Gift Card

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bar, blue, businessIt doesn’t matter why we were in a Denny’s in Escondido, CA at 5am. All that matters is that The Man and I were there, eating pancakes and drinking coffee until it was late enough to contact The Man’s cell phone provider.

The server (his name was Denny, his nametag proclaimed, but whether this was the truth or a ploy for better tips, I don’t know) had sat us in the first tiny both in the front of the restaurant. The Man sat with his back to the door (as a smart cowboy never would, my father would tell us, if he were still of the earthly realm), but I could see everyone coming in and going out.

I saw the guy wearing the hoody when he walked in, and I immediately thought, Homeless. Of course, I didn’t know the guy or his story, but I saw the details. The daypack on his back was stuffed to bulging. The coat he was wearing was just a little too warm for the weather. The backs of his hands were a certain shade of dirty that develops after a long time of not being able to wash regularly. He made a beeline for the restrooms at the front of the building as if he didn’t want anyone to see him.

When he exited the restroom, he hung around the front of the building, moving between the register and the claw game. No one seemed to notice him for quite some time.

After a while, Denny went up to the hostess station and messed around with the menus.

Can I place an order to go? the guy wearing the hoody asked softly and politely.

Denny seemed irritated. I’ll be with you in a minute, he said as if he were busy, but he didn’t look busy to me.

The guy wearing the hoody stood around a little while longer, but Denny left the hostess station without giving him another moment of attention. Finally the guy wearing the hoody went outside.

I witnessed the exchange with more sadness than anger. I suppose I was too tired to get angry after a long day and a night of almost no sleep. But I wanted to weep for the man who only wanted to place an order, only wanted to buy some food or maybe a hot cup of coffee after what might have been a hard night for him too. How dare Denny ignore him? How dare Denny act as if he were invisible, as if he weren’t worthy of some human kindness? If nothing else, it’s bad business to blow off what he should have assumed was a paying customer.

I didn’t say anything to The Man but I formulated a plan as I ate the last of my pancakes.  I’d make sure the guy wearing the hoody would be allowed to patronize Denny’s that morning.

When The Man and I finished eating, I grabbed the bill before he could and took it up to the register. Denny pulled himself away from whatever he’d been doing to come and take my money.

I’d like to get a $10 gift card, I told him.

Oh, I don’t know anything about gift cards, he told me. I’ve only worked here for like two weeks. Only a manager can do gift cards.

Occasionally at businesses I ask for something reasonable, something every day and normal, and the worker tells me it’s going to be a hassle. I think these workers expect me to say, Never mind, but typically I don’t. If I say I want something, I’ll go through a minor inconvenience to get it. That morning, I wanted a gift card.

I’ll wait for a manager, I told Denny politely.

I didn’t look to see if he rolled his eyes at me, but he hollered across the restaurant to a woman with platinum blond hair and civilian clothes. She needs a gift card!

The woman (the manager, if what Denny said about only managers being able to process gift cards was true), said, I’ll have to get one out of the office.

I could clearly see three or four gift cards in a cardboard display behind the register, but I simply said, That’s fine. I’ll wait.

The manager came back with the card, and I told her how many dollars I wanted on it. She tried to upsell me (good for her!) by telling me if I bought a $25 gift card, I could get $25 in coupons, but I said no thanks. I hardly ever eat at Denny’s so I’d have to go out of my way to use the coupons, which were probably buy one/get one anyway.

My transaction complete, I went back to our booth and asked The Man if he was ready. He was.

We walked outside and the guy wearing the hoody was sitting near the entrance. I didn’t know quite what to say (I’m sorry Denny was an asshat, would have been one option, You deserve to be treated with kindness was another) but I settled on I want you to have this, as I handed him the gift card.

The guy wearing the hoody didn’t say a work to me. He simply looked a little confused. I didn’t want to make things any more awkward than maybe they already were for him, so I just kept walking. The Man hugged me close and said, You are so nice.

I didn’t give the gift card to get approval or commendation. I only wanted the guy with the hoody to be able to eat a hot meal while sitting comfortably inside the restaurant. I’m not telling this story so people will think I’m cool. I’m telling this story in order to recognize the humanity of the guy wearing the hoody.

I hadn’t planned to go back into the diner, but a restroom emergency required me to do just that. When I went inside, I saw the guy wearing the hoody sitting in a booth, a menu spread in front of him. A different waiter was taking his order. I hope his meal was delicious.

Image courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/bar-blue-business-cafe-533347/.

I typically change all names in my posts, but “Denny” really was the name on the server’s nametag.

Stupid

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I’m so proud of myself. For once, I kept my big mouth shut.

It was the end of the camping season, and I was spending my Sunday afternoon collecting access fees in the campground’s overflow parking lot.

A Jeep pulled into the campground’s driveway. It was followed by one of those minivan/station wagon hybrid vehicles.

I approached the woman driving the Jeep. Yes, they wanted to walk the trail she said in response to my first question. I told her there was a $5 access fee, and she pulled out a twenty.

I want to pay for the kids behind me, she told me.

While I was making change, I noticed the vehicle behind her backing out.

Are you with them? I asked the woman in the Jeep. They’re backing out.

She said she was with them, so I started gesturing at the second vehicle so the driver would not back out.

That’s my daughter in the car, the woman in the Jeep told me. Her boyfriend is driving. He’s kind of stupid.

I didn’t know how best to respond to that allegation, so I simply said, I’m sorry.

I am too! the woman laughed

I looked back at the second vehicle and saw the stupid boyfriend had stopped backing up and was pulling forward again.

Maybe she’ll get over it, I suggested optimistically to the woman in the Jeep.

I hope so, she said.

It was only later I realized I’d done a good job and not said anything regrettable. I thought about all the scandalous words that could have popped out of my mouth had I been less vigilant.

Maybe he has other talents. (said in a wink wink, nudge nudge double entendre voice)

Maybe he’s good in bed.

Maybe he’s got a big cock.

Maybe she wants to be sure she’s the smartest person in the relationship.

Maybe he lets her spend his money.

I’m so proud of myself. I didn’t let my big mouth embarrass me for once.

 

What I Like About Living Alone

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While I do miss having The Man as part of my everyday life, there are many things I like about living and traveling alone. Her’s my top ten list of reason I like being by myself.

#1 I can toss and turn in my bed as much as I need to without fear of disturbing anyone.

#2 If I wake up at 5am (or 4:30 or 3:45), I can turn on the light and get to work without bothering someone who still wants to sleep.

#3 No one pulls the blankest off me in the night.

#4 I cook what I want when I want. No one announces at two o’clock in the afternoon that he’s hungry and wonders aloud when I’m going to cook dinner.

#5 No one is standing in fron of me, wanting my attention when I’m in the middle of a project.

#6 While traveling, I can stop–or not–as I wish.

#7 No one uses my things, then fails to put them away in their proper places. (No one but me, that is.)

#8 I listen to whatever music I want to hear at any given moment,

#9 or I can sit in silence.

#10 I don’t have to worry about anyone’s happiness but my own.

It’s been helpful for me to remember that solitude comes with a lot of freedom.

I took the photo in this post.

 

Four New Hats Just in Time for Winter

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I made four new warm winter hats in the last few days. Each is extra large. Each has a rolled edge. Each is bright and colorful and available for purchase for only $15, and that includes shipping!

Buy a hat now for yourself and keep your head warm all winter. Buy a hat for a friend and give it as a gift in celebration of the winter holiday of your choice.

Message me to make a purchase.

Little Free Library on the Mesa

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After I saw the first Little Free Library in Taos County, two more popped up.

The second Little Free Library I visited in Taos County was on the Mesa. This Little Free Library is also housed in a re-purposed newspaper dispenser and is located at the West Rim Mutual Domestic Water Users Association fill station at the intersection Highway 64 and the West Rim Road.

The Man was driving as we left the Mesa. When I saw the Little Free Library, I pointed and said, I want to go over there. Pull in there. The Man kindly complied.

I had a few books to drop off. (I can’t remember their titles.) We were in a hurry, so once I added my donation to the shelves, I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at the books available. (I was impressed with the number of books that had been shoved into the library!) I gave them a quick glance, decided I didn’t need any of them, and climbed back in the van.

I love that Little Free Libraries make books available for the people. I especially love this one because it’s out there for people who are geographically isolated. If folks can’t or don’t want to drive the ten miles into town to get a book, they can look for reading material in this Little Free Library.

I took the photos in this post.

Restroom Monitor

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It was Labor Day weekend and the mercantile was packed.

I’d tried to go to lunch twice before I succeeded. Both times I went outside, got to my van, and watched a crowd of people head to the store. I could have left the manager to deal with the customers alone, but I try to be a team player. Both times I turned around and went back into the store to help.

Right before I finally left for lunch at 1:15, one of the camp hots of the campground where the mercantile is located came into the store and said he was closing the women’s restroom at the front of the campground because there had been an “accident.” He said the restroom would be closed for a while.

The restrooms at the front of the campground get a lot of action. Not only are they used by campers and the employees of the mercantile, they’re also used by people who walk the trail. Lots of people park in the overflow lot at the front of the campground and visit the restrooms before and after their stroll through the trees. Other visitors utilize the restrooms when they leave the trail to shop in the mercantile or to take a look at the campground. It’s not unusual in the late morning or early afternoon on a weekend to see lines five or six people long waiting for both front restrooms.

A little after 2pm, a woman stepped up to the counter where I was standing. Is there another women’s restroom? She asked me. That one’s locked.

I glanced out the yurt’s front window. I saw five or six people (not just men) in line in front of the men’s room. It appeared the camp host had not yet cleaned the accident in the other restroom.

I told the woman the restroom had been closed because it needed cleaning. (I didn’t mention it had needed cleaning for at least 45 minutes.) Then I told her about the two additional restrooms at the back of the campground. I pointed to the road she should follow to the restrooms and sent her on her way.

When I wasn’t looking, the mercantile manager must have loaned the tourist woman a little bottle of hand sanitizer because several minutes later, I saw the tourist woman handing it back to the manager.

Did you find the restroom ok? I asked the tourist.

Actually, the ranger told me I couldn’t use it, she said apologetically.

My mouth literally dropped open, and I had quite a difficult time closing it. The manager of the mercantile was looking at her incredulously too. One of us managed to ask, What?, and the woman elaborated.

As she walked toward the back of the campground, the female camp host (whom the tourist mistook for a ranger) stopped her to ask where she was going. When the woman said she was going to the restroom, the camp host told her she couldn’t use the restrooms in the back!

The manager and I both apologized to the woman and told her the camp host should not have denied her access.

Both the manager and I were astonished. While we trusted the tourist woman was telling us the truth, we could hardly imagine a camp host prohibiting a visitor from using a functional restroom.

There are many reasons a person might not be able to stand in line and wait for a restroom.  Maybe the woman was pregnant. (Granted the woman didn’t appear pregnant, but I’m not an obstetrician.) Maybe the woman had a physical condition that necessitated an immediate restroom visit. Maybe she’d simply pushed her body to its limit and needed to go NOW! Maybe she was trying to be efficient and take care of her needs elsewhere while her family was using the one open restroom in the front. Maybe she just didn’t want to go into the overused men’s room. The bottom line is, the camp host should not have denied the woman the use of any open restroom in the campground.

During my profuse apology, I asked the tourist woman if she wanted to write a comment card. She said she did. When she finished, I promised to get it to my boss, and I did so by sending it home with his wife.

The next day the mercantile manager and I saw The Big Boss Man talking to the female camp host. I was busy when he came into the mercantile, but the manager later told me he said the camp host said (this is like a game of telephone, I know) there had only been a couple of people in line for the restroom when the tourist lady tried to use the back restroom. That, of course, was a lie, but even if only one person had been in line, the woman should have been allowed to use one of the restrooms in the back. The camp host went on to say she didn’t want any day-use visitors messing up the restrooms the campers were using!

I’m not going to say day–use visitors wouldn’t mess up a restroom in some way. However, it’s the camp host’s job to clean restrooms, no matter who messes them up. I sure hope The Big Boss Man explained to his employee that cleaning a dirty restroom, regardless of who made the mess, is the duty of a camp host.

Another Batch of New Collages

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I’ve created another batch of new collages. They are all for sale, just in time for the winter holidays. (Prices are given in the captions under the photos.)

I decided to spend a week dedicated to making new collages. In addition to the postcard size ones I usually make, I decided I wanted to go bigger too. The collages in this post are the result of my week of cutting out then gluing down little bits of paper.

Every bit of every one of these collages was cut from an old magazine or catalog or acquired from a thrift store or junk shop. I didn’t buy any new materials for these pieces of art! How’s that for Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle?

The first one I made was a large (14″ x 11″) mixed media piece about my feelings surrounding money. Called The Root of all Worry, it took me at least six hours to complete. My favorite part of it is the little treasure chest full of coins in the bottom left corner..

This piece is called The Root of All Worry, and it’s big. It’s approximately 14″ x 11″ and is one of the biggest collages I’ve ever done. WOW! It costs, $100, including shipping.

My next collage is called Follow Your Heart. This one is mixed media too. I really enjoyed working with more than paper.

This piece is called Follow Your Heart and is approximately 8″ x 7.” It’s made with more than just paper. There’s a key in there and a red die, a metal heart, a plastic heart, and a really big rhinestone. The wooden heart in the middle projects from the base. The piece costs, $35, including shipping.

On the day I made Follow Your Heart, I also made Be Kind. I was pretty excited to create two collages in one day. Be Kind is also a mixed media piece. I told you I was really digging mixed media.

This collage is called Be Kind. I like that the little card with the words on it is distressed. Sometimes being kind is hard! We should do it anyway! It’s approximately 4″ x 6″ and is for sale for $15, including shipping.

On the third day of my collage week, I had to travel, so I only got one done. It’s called Great Day.

This collage is called Great Day. It’s about 4″ x 6″ (actually a smidge bigger) and is made from paper and metal on cardboard. It costs $15, including shipping.

On the fourth day of collage week, I worked on a big one. It’s called Who’s the Queen?

Who Is the Queen? YOU are the queen!
This mixed media piece is approxiamtely 12 and 3/4″ x 9 and 7/8″ and costs $65, including shipping.
( The oval in the middle below the large queen is an actual mirror! )

Just in time for the holidays…a reminder to Look on the Bright Side

This piece is called Look on the Bright Side and is made from cardboard and clippings from old magazines and catalogs. It’s a smidge over 4″ x 6″ and it’s prices at $15 includes shipping. (The piece does include glitter. )

 What will today bring? Find out by giving the arrow a spin and seeing where it lands. Road trip? Tell it like it is? Misuse of time? Quit your job? Be prepared?

This collage, called What Will Today Bring? was made from a game piece rescued from the trash and clippings from old magazines and catalogs. It costs $65, including shipping. It’s approximately 7″ x 8 1/2.”

Bee Kind…to bugs and plants, the earth and each other. This collage was handmade from a post card saved from the recycling bin, a wooden ladybug from the bottom of the thrift store barrel, metal accents scavenged from old jewelry, and clippings from old magazines and catalogs. It’s a great gift for the nature lover/reuse enthusiast on your holiday shopping list.

This piece, called Bee Kind is 4″ x 6″ and is available for $15, including shipping.

Go ahead. Start Your Transformation Today. This collage can help by reminding you of your goals every time you look at it.

This collage is called Start Your Transformation Today. It was made from a postcard about to go into the recycling bin and clippings from old magazines and catalogs. It’s approximately 4″ x 6″ and costs only $10, including shipping!

The last collage I made in my on my seventh day of collaging is called You are Capable of Amazing Things.

This collage is called You Are Capable of Amazing Things. It is approximately 4″ x 6″ and costs, $15, including shipping.