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How to host a telephone service guy

11 Mar

In 12 easy steps.

1.  Spend the morning tidying potential repair site areas.  There’s no phone outlet in the master closet or bath, so go ahead and cram all that folded/unfolded, clean/dirty laundry in there.  Don’t forget to do a quick dust job behind the television where the colony of dust bunnies large enough to cast a made for television production of Watership Down stands watch over the jack that was causing all the trouble the last time the service guy was out.

2.  If you’re set on showering before your service appointment, better leave yourself more than a 20 minute window in case they call an hour and a half before your appointment to tell you they’ll be there in 30 minutes and you’re in the middle of making school lunches and minutes away from heading out the door to run the kids to school (too few minutes for even a quickie rinse off and too many minutes to leave you enough time on the backside of that carpool run).

3.  Should you find yourself in the predicament described in step 2, don’t worry about not showering.  A few passes with the deoderant, a bra, and a little mascara will make you semi-presentable.

4.  When the service guy arrives, be sure to give him a detailed account of the last service call, pointing out the source of the trouble and explaining that the last service guy said it was possible his repair job might end up being a temporary fix.

5.  When the service guy tells you thirty minutes later that he thinks he’s found the source of the problem in that jack/wires/faceplate that’s hanging out of the wall in the upstairs family room, don’t argue with him.  When he’s done fixing the jack/wires/faceplate and figures out that wasn’t the problem, you’re still ahead one fixed jack/wires/faceplate.

6.  Avoid saying “I told you so” when he decides fifteen minutes later that the jack/outlet you told him about in the first place turns out to be the source of the trouble.

7.  During this time, you should establish some kind of contact with a third party off the premises that you trust.  Sample text conversation:

You: I have a service guy in my house & I never know what to do with myself.  Plus it’s always wise to have contact with someone on the outside in case he turns out to be a murdering rapist or something.

Trustworthy off the premises third party: You should text me a detailed description of the guy, just in case.

You: He’s an attractive young Asian man.  Maybe early 20s.  Tall–6’1″ or 6’2″.  His name is Phil, or so he says.  He has bright blue plastic booties over work boots.

TOTPTP: Wow, that’s tall for an Asian guy.

You: I know, right?  Perhaps he’s of mixed decent.  Would it be rude to ask?

TOTPTP: Hey, when a guy is in your house wearing bright blue plastic booties he has already checked his pride at the door.

You: Well, at least it gives me a distinguishing characteristic to report to the police.  Oh, he’s also driving a white Comcast van, or so it says…

TOTPTP: Or so it says…u crack me up 🙂

You: You won’t be laughing when I’m dead. … He’s in my backyard now.  Do you think he’s casing the joint for possible re-entry routes???

TOTPTP: Better lock up your windows tonight…just in case…

8. When he informs you he needs access to the crawl space, keep a smile on your face as you unload the contents of your 3×4 hall closet into your entryway.  At least you’re not the one who has to go into the crawl space.

9. After you’ve unloaded the contents of your hall closet and you remember that the crawl space access has been covered by your snap together/non-glued-down laminate flooring, pull up the flooring yourself.  Don’t leave the service guy to his own devices, and don’t under any circumstances give him a pry bar unless you want two pry-bar shaped holes in your wall.

10. If you ignore the warnings in step 9 and leave the guy grunting in your hall closet for 15 minutes and then check on him only to discover no progress other than the two holes in the back of your closet, go ahead and offer to take care of the flooring yourself and then get his card to reschedule the appointment for the next day.

11. When you’ve popped the flooring up yourself without the aid of pry bar and/or grunting two minutes after he pulls out of your driveway, wait a few minutes before calling him to see if he has time to come back later that day.  You don’t want to completely emasculate and/or offend him, you still need him to get down in that crawl space and fix your friggin’ phone line.

12.  When all is said and done, don’t be too disgusted with yourself for apologizing for all the trouble and pretending not to notice the holes in your closet wall.  Your phone is fixed, all the crap you pulled out of your closet will cover up the holes when you get around to putting it back in, and you haven’t antagonized the “service guy”/murdering rapist.

Hours later…

TOTPTP: R u still alive? The tall Asian really was just a cable guy?

Hours later…

TOTPTP: Bythelbs? You?

You: Yes, I’m alive.  Phone is fixed. Tall Asian guy has disappeared…for now…

TOTPTP: Or so he says…

You can skip this one, Susan

8 Jun

So awhile back I posted one of those lame “How well do you know me?” Facebook quizzes.  One of the questions was:

My biggest fears in order from greatest to least are ____________.
a) spiders, public restrooms, dirty dishes.
b) public restrooms, dirty dishes, spiders.
c) dirty dishes, spiders, public restrooms.

Most people got this question wrong.

This morning as I was folding laundry on the couch, I picked up a towel—a big, white, fluffy, beautiful towel—only to find that a spider—a big, black, creepy, ugly spider—was lurking within its folds. I dropped the towel like it had a spider on it (because it did!) and screamed. But I dropped the towel on the couch. No way was I going to live with the idea that a big, black, creepy, ugly eight-legged beastie was inhabiting the inner recesses of my loveseat, so I picked up a corner of the towel and flung it on the ground away from the couch.  I thought maybe it would crawl out of the towel so I (actually, I was hoping I could talk Mr. T into doing the dirty work) could properly attack it with the business end of my husband’s hiking boot, but it didn’t.  The towel was silent.  Eerily silent.  And still.  Eerily still.

The towel and spider were now in the middle of my floor, trapping Mr. T in the kitchen and preventing me from carrying out the rest of my morning motherly duties of lunch making and laundry folding and floor sweeping and all that other crap.  I bravely walked up to the towel and lifted up one corner.

Me, to Mr. T:  Is it there?

Mr. T:  I don’t see it.

Me, trying to flip around another corner of the towel:  Do you see it?

Mr. T:  No.

Me:  Did you see it when I flung it onto the floor.  It’s in the towel, right?  It’s not still on the couch, right?!  Please don’t let it still be on the couch!

I thought about just smashing the crap out of that towel in such a way as to ensure that nothing could have survived, but it was one of my good white bath towels.  I haven’t had them very long and they were kind of pricey.  I went into the kitchen and started digging around in the drawers.

Mr. T:  What are you looking for?

Me:  The tongs.  The good ones.

I couldn’t find the good ones.  I could only find the flimsy ones that were a good 1 1/2 inches shorter than the good ones, but I was desperate.  I went over to the vicinity of the towel and leaned over as far as my arm would stretch and tried to pick up the towel with the tongs.  I couldn’t.  They weren’t strong enough to hold 30×56″ of fine loop Egyptian cotton goodness.  Darn those flimsy tongs! 

Mr. T, searching the kitchen in earnest:  Where are those good tongs?!

He couldn’t find them, but worked up the courage to spread the towel out the rest of the way.  There was nothing there.  There was nothing there!  Do you know what’s worse than having a spider on one of your best bath towels?  Having a spider on one of your best bath towels and then not having a spider on one of your best bath towels with no earthly idea of what happened to the damn thing in between those two states of being!  It could be anywhere!

Mr. T:  You probably flung it off the towel when you threw it off the couch.

Me:  But where?  Where would I have flung it to?

We looked around and then Mr. T spotted it on the dining room wall, a good twelve feet away.

Mr. T:  That thing’s huge!

I searched for a weapon.  Mr. T brought out the big, rubber mallet from the kitchen.

Me:  We can’t use that, we’ll put a hole in the wall.

The spider dropped to the floor, so I knew I had to act fast—any further delay and I’d risk losing him in my house.  In my house!  I finally settled on some rolled up newspapers, covered my eyes with one hand and brought down my other with the full force of all my fear and fury.  I got him. 

Me, handing Mr. T a stack of napkins:  Could you get rid of him please?

Mr. T:  With napkins?!

Me:  Well, what do you want to use?

Mr. T:  Something stiffer?

We debated for a few minutes until finally I took matters into my own hands—well, not my hands (shudder, shudder, shudder!)—and scooped it up with the cardboard wrapping from the last of the pineapple snack cups.  I carried it across the dining room and tossed it out the back slider door, all the while hoping that spiders didn’t play possum and chanting, “Please don’t wake up, please don’t wake up, please don’t wake up.”

Needless to say, it was a most traumatic and distressing way to start my day.  It’s like when you narrowly miss getting in a car accident and your heart is palpitating for several minutes following the near death experience.

So here is my rationale behind the biggest fears:

I’d rather do dishes than take care of any kind of business in a public restroom.  And I’d certainly much rather take care of all kinds of business in a public restroom than have to deal with a spider.

I’m not sure how long it will be before I can use that towel again, let alone hang it up in my bathroom.  Or put it in the linen closet.  Or fold it.  Or pick it up off the floor.

Ambiguphobia

15 May

Ambiguphobia—the fear of being misunderstood.  (No, I did not just make that up.  It’s a real thing, people.)  I’ve always known I have it, but I don’t think I realized the depth of my ambiguphobia until yesterday when I discovered how many people had no idea what I meant by the title of my blog and my online handle.  It was…distressing.  I think particularly because I had spent so much time congratulating myself on the clever conception of the name when I started this whole blogging endeavor. 

“Look, lbs like pounds and also like me!  I’m lbs!  And when I write something it’s like By lbs!  And when you buy things, you can buy them by the lb!  (Only there’s an “s” in my initials, so it would be by the lbs, which is even better because that makes the play on words even more obvious!)  Buy things like nuts!  I’m nutty!  Nutty goodness!  By the lbs: nutty goodness in bulk or by the pound!  That’s it!  That’s the name!  The perfect name!”

I’m not sure why it never occurred to me before that this line of reasoning wouldn’t be completely obvious to everyone else, especially given how you all wouldn’t automatically know what my initials even are.  I must have assumed that the bythelbs would be sufficiently odd (I mean, who says “Oh yeah, I buy these by the pounds.”  You don’t buy by the pounds, you buy by the pound.) that one would naturally deduce that “lbs” must also represent something else like, say,  initials.  “Oh, this blog must be written by someone with the initials lbs.  By the lbs.  By the pounds.  Snort.  I get it.  Clever girl.”  I am an idiot.

Now that I think about it, it’s really very unlike me to take this kind of thing for granted.  I am like the queen of over-explaining myself.  Well, at least in my mind I am.  I say something to a friend or type something in a comment on a blog, maybe something I think is witty or clever and then I sit there and wonder if anyone will get it, but when you have to explain a joke it’s not really funny, right?  Particularly with the blogs (because you can’t add all those subtle nuances of voice inflection and delivery that are sometimes vital clues to how a joke is best interpreted or received), I’ll sit there staring at a comment I’ve just written, debating back and forth whether I’ve been sufficiently clear.  Am I clear?  AM  I  CLEAR?!  Dare I submit?  DARE I?!  Sometimes in my lack of confidence I just erase my comment and click away.  Better to say nothing than to have people mistakenly think I’m a dork.

And it’s not just about the joke.  I worry about offending people with a misunderstanding.  When I was walking my girls home from school yesterday, Goose and BigHugs had run out a few yards ahead of me.  They are pretty good about stopping at each corner and waiting for me before crossing the street, but they were approaching this one crosswalk at kind of a jog and I noticed a big truck getting ready to turn through it so I yelled, “Stop!”  And when the girls didn’t immediately stop, I yelled, “Stop!  Stop!  STOP!!!”  And then the truck driver looked at me as he drove past with us all standing on the corner, and I was suddenly worried that perhaps he thought I was yelling at him to stop, so I immediately said in a voice I hoped was loud enough to carry the 20 feet down the street he had already gone, “GIRLS, YOU NEED TO MAKE SURE TO STOP AT THE CORNER AND WAIT FOR ME.  THAT NICE TRUCK WAS TRYING TO TURN.”  But in retrospect, he was most likely giving me the evil eye for letting my young children run wild on the sidewalks.

I’m not one for acknowledging strangers I pass on the street.  As I’m walking, I usually just keep my head down and pretend I’m preoccupied with something.  If I’m with BigHugs I might start talking to her  just as I’m approaching someone so that they can think I am too engrossed in my conversation with my three year old to notice them rather than think that I’m unfriendly.  I would be happy to be friendly.  A “hi” or a head nod or even just a smile is not beyond my capacity for interaction with my fellow human beings, but I’m afraid of the possibility of that being misinterpreted as well.  When I walk to pick up my girls after school, there’s this nice young Asian man sitting at the bus stop on the way.  One day I just happened to look in his direction just as he was looking up from his book and I felt trapped, so I smiled.  He smiled back.  A perfectly lovely random encounter.  Then the next time I walked to school, I made a special point of smiling at him because I figured we had already established this smiling relationship and it would just be rude to go back to ignoring him.  He smiled again.  Then the next time I did this kind of combo smile/quick head nod/staccatoed “Hi” thing and he just kind of looked away.  No smile.  Did he see me?  Did I breech some kind of code of social etiquette progression by moving up to the “Hi” so soon after the smile relationship was established?  Was he beginning to worry that this wacko old lady mom was trying to hit on him?  Did he take my head nod/Hi as a mockery of his Asian culture?  It was a nod, not a bow!  A “hi”, not a “hai!”  (No pick!  No pick!!)  Then last Monday I was driving the kids to piano in the opposite direction that I walk to the school, and I saw my young Asian man friend sitting at a different bus stop on the opposite side of the street.  Did he change bus routes just to avoid me?  Did I make him that uncomfortable?  But then yesterday he was standing up at his regular bus stop, and as I approached him he shot me a big, beaming grin.  So either I had nothing to worry about to begin with, my paranoid delusions getting the best of me yet again,  or my young Asian man friend has thought about it, weighed the pros and cons, and decided to accept my unintentional advances.  I suppose either way, I’m golden.

And now I don’t remember where I thought I was going with this whole thing, but I’m afraid any further attempts to explain myself will only serve to muddy the waters into muddied waters oblvion, so I’ll just say, “Hi.  My name is Bythelbs.  I mean LBS.  I mean my actual initials are L.B.S.  But I go by Bythelbs.  Like by the pounds, as in by the pound, and also by the lbs, as in my actual initials.  And I’m an ambiguphobic.”

Are you?

 

Classic crazy.

I’m really a very trusting person

25 Feb

So Chuck arranged to switch our phone service over to the same company that provides our internet (something about a deal and saving money, blah, blah, blah) and scheduled the dude to come out today.  First off, we all know how I feel about the service call.  So I spent last night and this morning tidying about the house (yes, it did require two sessions, just shut it!) and then came downstairs a little before noon to hang out all casual like til he came.  He was supposed to be here sometime between 12 and 2 pm.  (I know—have you ever heard of such a small window of time for a service call appointment?!)  I always like to finish up my tidying with plenty of down time left to catch my breath and appear casual.  I don’t like people catching me in the act of the tidying or catching me all rosy-cheeked after a good tidying, if you know what I mean.  It’s just none of their business if I’ve been tidying.  For all they should know, I’m all about the tidy all the time and am not about the quickie tidy for service calls and such.

I decided to try to catch up on one of my DVR’d shows while I waited.  I have about 26 hours of dramas to watch, having as of late invested all of my spare TV time to my Buffy DVDs.  (I’m on part one of the two part season finale of season 3—the ascension!)  I put on an episode of The Closer from a couple weeks back.  It was a lovely episode about a serial rapist.  I only got about 15 minutes or so into it before the phone dude showed up, so I paused while I got him situated and then came back to it.  So as the case unfolded, it turned out these are two-man jobs.  One guy works for a delivery company and scopes out potential victims–young, attractive, blonde women who appear to be alone.  If he finds one that fits the bill, he leaves a window unlocked and then returns with his partner that night, who is actually the real sicko bad guy rapist.  The delivery guy just acts as look out.

It ended up being kind of a complicated story, legally speaking—they can’t bring the real sicko bad guy rapist up on charges because of all this legal mumbo jumbo (something about no physical evidence and not being able to use the testimony of his partner, blah, blah, blah) and he ends up getting away with it.  I hate it when they get away with it!  So I was sitting there all annoyed when it hit me that I have a service guy in my house right now.  And I am young (ish) and attractive (I’m assuming enough for a sicko bad guy rapist, though trust me, that’s not what I’d call a real self-esteem booster) and blonde (hey, they didn’t specify naturally) and I was alone!  Well, I had BigHugs with me, but still.  So you can bet your sweet bippy that I have made sure that all of my windows are secure, and I’m also kind of wondering if I should be dusting for fingerprints (I’m pretty sure he wasn’t wearing gloves, which, now that I think of it, he probably would have been wearing gloves had he really been scoping out my potential victimness, so that’s kind of reassuring) or trying to make a plaster cast of his footprint in my family room carpet (I did freshly vacuum, so there should be a good imprint.  No wait, that’s a lie.  I totally didn’t vacuum.  Plus also, I think he was wearing plastic booties over his shoes.  Wait, plastic booties?  That’s a little suspicious, isn’t it?  Premeditation?  To prevent a good imprint or the leaving behind of any relevant evidence such as dirt that could be traced back to his place of residence and link him to the scene of the crime?  He said he didn’t want to get my carpet dirty, but my carpet is so obviously trashed already—a likely story!) 

And now I’ve used so many parentheticals that I totally don’t remember where I was going with this except that I would recommend that you not watch a TV show about service people in cahoots with real sicko bad guy rapists whilst hosting a service person in your home.  And also, the carpet be darned!  Much better to have the service dude leaving a trail of evidence that can later be used to convict his sorry sicko bad guy butt!

It’s all in my mind

22 Jan

Tuesday Mr. T forgot his PE clothes.  It wasn’t his fault.  We have this arrangement where he makes sure his PE clothes make it out of his backpack and into the laundry, and then I make sure they’re washed and put back in his backpack for school.  After I dropped him off at school, I came home to see his clothes sitting on the washer.  I blame MLK Day.  (I mean, Martin Luther King Jr. Day—the man deserves better than to have his day of honor and remembrance abbreviated.)  The long weekends always throw me off as far as school preparations go.  I hopped in the shower so I’d be looking halfway normal to drop off his PE clothes at school after taking the girls to school.  I don’t like to go to my kids’ schools scummed out.  I just don’t want to be that mom.  I mean, I kind of am that mom, but I don’t really want anyone else to know.

The whole time I was in the shower I could not stop thinking about the last time I took Mr. T’s forgotten PE clothes to school.  I was sure that woman was going to feel the need to make some kind of comment again.  I played out the whole conversation in my head.

TW:  Can I help you?

Me:  I just need to drop off my son’s PE clothes.

TW:  Again?  You know, he’s never going to learn responsibility if you don’t let him face the consequences.

Me:  Well, it was really my fault.  See, we have this arrangement where he makes sure his clothes make it out of his backpack and into the laundry and I make sure they’re washed and put back in his backpack.

TW:  You know, I have a daughter in middle school too, and she washes her own PE clothes.

Me:  Good for her.

TW gives me a look.  She detects a tone.  I probably had a tone.  She’s staring at me.

TW:  Is there something on your mind?

Me:  No.  (I’m totally non-confrontational.)

TW:  What?

Me:  Nothing.  (Feeling brave or just really pissed off.) I just think it’s interesting that the two times I’ve come in here since my son started attending this school, you’ve felt the need to make some kind of comment on my parenting.

TW:  Oh really?  Well you can just forget about your son getting his PE clothes.

Me:  You can’t do that.

TW:  Watch me.

Me:  I want to speak to your supervisor!

That’s as far as I got.  The whole scenario was getting very uncomfortable, even in my imagination.  I shy away from conflict.  I’d rather just let things go.  I don’t get into arguments with strangers.  That’s just not me.  Except in my mind.  In my mind, I do it all the time.  It’s kind of like when you think of the perfect comeback after it’s too late and you keep replaying the incident over in your mind, only this time using your perfect comeback.  Sometimes when you try it out, you realize it doesn’t quite work (even in your head), so you rework it until it’s perfect and then you’re simultaneously kicking yourself that you didn’t come up with that when it was all actually going down and grateful that you had kept your mouth shut. 

Only with me, I play these kind of confrontational scenarios out in my mind before anything has ever happened.  And I would also say the majority of my dreams are me in these kinds of situations.  Is this normal?  What’s wrong with me?

So Tuesday morning I get all ready (because you can’t really be taken seriously in an argument when you look like crap, right?) and take the girls to school.  We were running late because I was getting all ready so that I’d be sure to look nice for my throw down with Mr. T’s school receptionist, so of course the parking lot drop-off was even more nightmarish than usual.  I always try to be there a good 10 minutes early to avoid the rush, and we were just barely getting there on time like everyone else and their dog.  I sat patiently (sort of) in the drop off lane, and of course, some joker bypassed the drop off lane line and cut in front of all of us, pulling in perpendicular to the curb so that she blocked off the exit for everyone behind her.  I was fairly certain it was the same lady as last time.  And I thought to myself, “You know, I’m already trying to mentally prep myself for meeting TW at Mr. T’s school and now I have some other lady totally asking for it.” 

It was fortunate, though, that it happened to be a day when I was already showered and dressed because typically I’m still in my pajamas with just a jacket on top (because it’s cold plus I haven’t bothered to put on essential undergarments yet, which for me aren’t really so much essential except that I just can’t imagine going out in public without them even if nobody would ever know the difference), and like I said, you can’t be taken seriously in an argument if you’re the scummed out loser mom in pajamas with mascara rings around her eyes and her ladies, however discreet, hanging wild and free.  I mean sure, we’re in cars, so theoretically no one would see me all scummed out, but were I to make any kind of gesture or indication of my disgust at her total lack of parking lot etiquette, she might feel the need to exit her vehicle and come over to mine.  And then would I roll down my window?  Would she just verbally abuse me or try to smack or spit at me?  If things escalated like that, no doubt the school office would get involved, and surely I would be forced to exit my vehicle and reveal to the world that I am that mom.  See how these things work?  Situations deteriorate like that.  Like that!

But, of course, I made no gesture or indication of disgust, and went on my way.  As I headed off to Mr. T’s school, I tried to refocus on the task at hand.  I couldn’t have any frickin’ parking lot jerko crazy mother drivers distracting me when I was trying to figure out how I could safely and peaceably drop off my son’s PE clothes.  I got to the school, walked into the office, and had this conversation with that woman receptionist.

TW:  Can I help you?

Me:  I just needed to drop off my son’s PE clothes.

TW:  OK, what’s his name?

Me:  Mr. T.

TW:  OK, I’ll make sure he gets them.  Thanks for bringing them.  Big smile.

Me:  OK, thanks.

No snide remarks or judgemental comments or a tone even.  No smackdown.  I was relieved.  And a little disappointed.

So tell me, what portion of your day do you devote to constructing strategies for winning imaginary confrontations? 

A little flashback fun to distract you from the crazy.

Special

29 Oct

I think it’s safe to say my first name is fairly unique.  I’ve never met another person with it, and I’ve never met another person who knew another person with it.  Sometimes having a unique name is cool—people notice it, comment on it, ask about it.  I’ve received a fair number of name-related compliments over the years.  Sometimes it’s also kind of a burden—no one knows how to spell it or pronounce it, you can never find personalized novelty items in the stores, and not everyone’s “That’s different” comes with a complimentary tone.  But for better or worse, my name is one thing that’s always been special about me. 

Well, the other day Chuck sends me this e-mail with a link to a page that shows a gravestone of someone else with my name.  My name!  Part of me thought that was kind of cool, like “Hey, I’m not alone in the world after all!”  But the other, bigger part of me thought “Harumph!”  I’ve labored under the delusion of my name-related specialness for so long, I’m not sure I’m so crazy about the idea of someone else out there walking around with my name.  Well, hopefully not walking around since she’s been dead for 25 years, but you know what I mean.

So from now on when someone comments on the uniqueness of my name I suppose I’ll feel somewhat obligated to disclose, “Yeah, well, some dead lady buried in Australia has the same name, so whatever.”

P.S.  Chuck sent me the link with no explanation.  I just clicked on it and there was my name on a tombstone.  This happened just two days after the birthday cake incident.  Coincidence?  Should I be worried?

P.P.S.  I forgot to tell you that the fake wacky search term from last week’s Wacky Search Term Wednesday was “sock monkey bra”.  So that means Cheryl wins!  Congratulations!  Look for some kind of prize of some degree of awesomeness to be heading your way some time in the future.

INsane—that’s like more than sane, right?

30 Sep

Last week my phone kept ringing once.  One ring and then nothing.  A few minutes later, one ring and nothing.  Nothing would even pop up on my caller ID.  I picked up the phone and heard crazy-crackling static and no dial tone.  Hmm.  I went through the house, making sure every phone was properly hung up and checked again.  CRAZY static.  And crackling.  No creepy voice informing me they were calling from inside my house.  And no dial tone.  I tried dialing my home phone with my cell phone.  Busy signal.  Seems like the phone would be off the hook, right?  So I checked again.  Everything was properly plugged in and hung up and yet the static remained and the dial tone stayed away.  Darn it all, my phone line was broke!

My next step was to consult my local phone company’s online support center.  The troubleshooting section took me through a series of steps to try and diagnose the source of the problem.  It said I needed to determine if it was a problem with the inside or outside wiring. To do that, I had to go outside, open the phone box thingy and flip open the jack doo-hickey and plug in a phone to see if it functioned properly.  If it didn’t work then it was a problem with the outside wiring and the phone company would fix it at their own cost, and if it did then it was a problem with the inside wiring and I’d have to foot the bill.  I’ll give you five guesses which one it was, and the first one doesn’t count (seeing how there’s only two possible answers, if you need the last three guesses there’s something wrong with you).

I called Chuck, who’s been out of town (of course), to see how I should proceed, and we decided I really had no choice but to suck it up and schedule the service call.  You know what I found most upsetting about this whole thing?  Was it the fact that my phone line was broken and I was without my land line?  No.  Or the fact that I’d be stuck with no doubt a hefty bill for my troubles?  No.  It was the fact that my house was a mess and I had every intention of being a total slacker and completely ignoring it, but now I had the telephone repair guy coming and I would have to clean my house.  I was actually near tears at the thought.  I even briefly considered waiting to schedule the appointment for a day when my house already happened to be clean, but having no earthly idea of when that might actually happen I thought better of it.  I kind of needed the phone.  So I scheduled the appointment and cleaned my house and the guy came out and figured out the problem and now my phone works and my house is presentable for all types of visitors, expected or not.  But will I have any?  Of course not.  Because the house is already clean.  It’s like an unwritten law of the universe.

For the past couple of months, I’ve actually been thinking about this quite a bit.  One night I was sitting on my bed reading when I heard this pop, pop, pop noise that sounded kind of gunfire-ish.  I looked out the window, but as far as I could tell, nothing was amiss.  But it got me thinking, what if it had been gunfire?  What if that pop, pop, pop had pop, pop, popped right through my window and struck me?  Chuck had been out of town then, too, so there would have been no one to drive me to the hospital.  I’d have to call 911.  And depending on the severity of the wound, I might have to wait for them in my bedroom.  My bedroom which was covered bed to floor with laundry in various states of cleanliness.  Would they look around my room in disgust and say, “Pack it up, boys.  This woman does not deserve our help.” and I’d bleed out between the whites and colors?  I’ve never tested the response time of my local emergency personnel.  Would I be able to fold and put away the clean laundry and throw the dirty laundry in the wash before they arrived?  Or before I passed out from the blood loss?  Maybe I could grab a towel from the bathroom and somehow secure it to the wound, so that I could go downstairs to wait for them there?  But with a gunshot wound there would most likely be a mandatory investigation, which would no doubt necessitate the inspection of the scene of the crime, which would mean they would still have to go up to my bedroom, discover that I was indeed a total slob, close the case and move onto solving crimes with victims more deserving of their time and resources.

I concluded that there was just no way I could allow myself to be seriously injured in the squalor of my bedroom.  But what about a minor injury?  After all, that pop, pop, pop noise wasn’t very loud so it couldn’t have come from a high caliber weapon.  More likely it was a BB gun or something.  Getting shot with a BB gun is really no big deal, right?  Probably very little blood, too.  In that case, I could just drive myself to the hospital, tell them I’d been shot in a drive-by or something, and avoid the whole ugly crime scene.  Although, once they really started questioning me they would likely find the holes in my story and trick me into confessing that I had, indeed, been shot in my bedroom and then they’d visit the crime scene and I’d be back to square one. 

I also started to worry about those little BB’s.  What if one got in my bloodstream and traveled to my heart or lungs?  Can you get a pulminary embolism from a BB?  I just wasn’t sure.  It had been a long time since I’d seen ER, and I only watch Grey’s Anatomy for the witty banter.  That could be serious, right?  Life threatening even.  I couldn’t risk this day dreamed scenario.  I decided right then and there that I must never be shot in my bedroom while reading a book.  And the only way to ensure that would never ever happen would be to keep my room neat and tidy at all times.  Because obviously there would be no need for anyone to be there if it was clean.  No one ever just drops in when your house happens to be clean.  Unwritten law.

So you know the old joke about moms asking if you’re wearing clean underwear before you go out, and it’s supposed to be so just in case you’re in a car accident you won’t be embarrassed to have the medical personnel discover your dirty drawers?  Well, that’s not really why moms say that.  They say that because clean underwear is like a talisman of protection.  Cleanliness is actually the only 100% effective prophylactic against bodily harm or other such calamities.  Of course, there is the flipside to these laws of the universe. I’d hazard a guess that an immaculate home is just asking for Hurricane Huey, and clean underwear likely drastically reduces the chances you’ll get lucky.  Plan accordingly.