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Inside Out

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I was selling at a farmers market in a small Arizona town. I’d brought a bunch of new rocks from Quartzsite, and they were practically flying off my table. It was turning out to be a lucrative day.

It was late in the morning when the woman walked up to my table. She was probably in her late 50s. Her hair was died a tasteful dark red, and her makeup was understated by apparent. She was wearing a flowy, cream colored blouse, and she held a little dog in her arms.

These stones are septarian concretions, also known as dragon stones or dragon eggs.

I told her about the septarian concretions on my table and the $3 hearts cut from agate, carnelian, labradorite, and rose quartz. The woman was polite, but seemed distracted. She gave my wares a cursory look, but didn’t seem interested in anything I was selling.

As she moved toward the end of my table, I thought I saw a white tag on the side seam of her blouse. I thought it was strange to see a tag on the outside of her blouse. Had this woman put her shirt on inside out and was now wearing it that way around town?

I was concerned for the woman because I put on my own shirt inside out much too often. Especially when I’m living in my van, especially if I get dressed before the sun’s fully out, especially if I’m rewearing a sweatshirt I hurriedly pulled over my head and tossed into a corner before I fell asleep, I might find myself wearing a shirt with the wrong side out. Sometimes I wear the shirt with the seams and tag showing for hours before I realize what’s up. I’m always a little sheepish when I realize that at nearly 50 years old, I still can’t successfully dress myself on a consistent basis.

I wanted to spare this woman embarrassment, but I also didn’t want to insult her. Maybe this was a fancy designer blouse and the tag had been purposefully placed on the outside of the side seam. I certainly wouldn’t know if this was some sort of new style.

I surveyed the woman’s shirt as she moved along my table. I didn’t see obvious seams, but there was certainly a tag on the side where two pieces of fabric usually come together. Should I say something?

As she turned to walk away, I saw another tag on the back of the shirt’s neckline, right in the spot where shirt manufacturers typically put tags. Now the shirt really appeared to be inside out. It was now or never!

Ma’am? I called out. She turned right around and looked at me.

I took three steps over and stood close to her. I leaned in and said in a low voice, I think your shirt is on inside out. I was striving to present no judgement, just to state my perceptions of the circumstances at hand.

Oh! I did that when I got dressed! she exclaimed. Apparently she’d realized she’d put on her shirt inside out, meant to switch it, but had moved on to other activities and had forgotten her fashion mistake.

Now I’m going to have to go back to my camper to change it, she told me.

I don’t care if you don’t care, I said, trying to reassure her.

But I do care! she said.

She headed toward the parking lot, and I went back to my table. About ten minutes later, the woman came by again to tell me she’d flipped her shirt. There was not a tag in sight.

I took the photo in this post.

Boob Money

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When I work at the fuel center, I spend most of my time in a booth where the customers can’t touch me. The booth has windows on three sides; the windows are allegedly bulletproof. (I don’t need to see evidence of this with my own eyes, thank you.) Conversing is done through an intercom. Money, credit cards, and tobacco products are passed through a sliding drawer in the wall. The company I work for calls the booth “the kiosk.”

One afternoon I was outside the kiosk conditioning. Conditioning just means making sure the product displays look good. I pull items to the front of the display cases, turn items so the fronts are facing forward, and fill any empty slots. It’s an easy task, improves the look of the sales area, and gets me out of the kiosk. While I’m outside, I also look around for trash on the ground, empty paper towel dispensers, and problems with the pumps.

While I’m outside conditioning, I keep an eye out for customers who have approached the kiosk. When someone walks up to the kiosk, I have to stop what I’m doing, walk to the kiosk, unlock the door, go inside, make sure the door closes behind me, approach the window, and use the intercom to find out how I can help the customer. It would be a lot easier if I could do my outside work without customer interruption, but that’s never the way it works.

On the day in question, I glanced over to the kiosk and saw that a customer had approached the kiosk. This customer was very tall and hyper-feminine. At first I thought she was a drag queen. Maybe she was.

(While I’m not sure of this person’s biological sex—and it doesn’t matter to me anyway—I will use feminine pronouns because this person was definitely presenting in a way that our society reads as female.)

The customer was wearing high heels, jeggings printed to look like red snakeskin, and a pink bustier. Her long, thick, dark hair cascaded down her bare back. I wondered where this person was going dressed this way on a weekday afternoon. It didn’t much matter because her fashion choices were none of my business.

I returned to my kiosk sanctuary and approached my base of operations at the window where the drawer is. I used the intercom to say, Hi! How can I help you today?  

Rolled 20 U.s Dollar Bill

She said she needed $20 on pump 6. She had a few crumpled bills in her hand, but after looking at them she seemed to realize they wouldn’t be enough. That’s when she started digging in her cleavage. I don’t mean she reached daintily between her breasts and gently extracted a bill. No, she was rooting around in there, digging under her left breast, having a hard time finding what she needed. I honestly thought she might pop her boob out completely. Thankfully she did not.

She finally found the twenty dollar bill she wanted and put it in the drawer. I wasn’t disgusted so much as astounded. I had no real reason to be disgusted. Her boobs were probably cleaner than mine. Hers were probably lotioned, perfumed, and powdered. However, I have to admit I felt a little weird about touching money that had been stashed in such an intimate place.

I’m not saying I’ve never carried money in my bra. Ladies’ dressy clothes often lack pockets and a gal doesn’t always want to carry a purse.

The difference is that when I’ve carried money in my bra, I discretely removed the cash before I was ready to pay. I can attest to the fact that store clerks DO NOT want to know where your money has been. My customer could have counter her money in the car and when she realized she didn’t have enough for $20 on pump six, she could have gotten out her boob money before she approached the kiosk. I didn’t really need—or want—to see her pull her money out from under her breast. 

Image courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/rolled-20-u-s-dollar-bill-164527/.

Amazon Associates

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Since October 2016, the Rubber Tramp Artist has participated in the Amazon associates program.

The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure
Here’s how it works. Say I’m writing a blog post about The Princess Bride. I get information from Amazon that allows me to put an image of the book’s cover in my post. Nifty! I now have a nice image related to my topic to go along with my text. However, the image isn’t just a nice picture; it’s also a link to the book on Amazon’s page. If a reader clicks on the image, the link will take him/her directly to Amazon’s website. At that point, any qualifying items placed in the reader’s shopping cart within 24 hours of their arrival at Amazon via my Associates link will earn me advertising fees.

Of course, Amazon is not just about books. I could also write about the movie The Princess Bride and get information from Amazon to put an image of the DVD cover in my post. That image is also a link to the DVD’s Amazon page. Clicking on the image of the DVD on my page will take my reader to The Princess Bride DVD Amazon page. From there, if my reader puts a DVD of The Princess Bride or any other item in his or her cart within 24 hours and purchases those items before the shopping cart expires (usually after 90 days), I will get an advertising fee.

The Princess Bride

Here’s another scenario: Say a reader wants to buy something from Amazon I’ve never even mentioned on the blog. The reader can go to my blog first and click through my site to get to Amazon. A reder can do this in a couple of ways.

The first way is to find the Amazon.com link in the column to the right of the main body of the post. The words “Just click here!” are in orange; that’s my link to Amazon. That link will take readers to Amazon and get me credit for items placed in their carts within 24 hours and purchased (usually) within 90 days.

If that link is too hard to find or too small on a cell phone, there’s another way to do it. On the top of every page of this blog, there’s a link for the page about my book Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. Go to that page. The image of the cover of my book is a link to Amazon. Click on the image of the cover of my book, and you’ll go to Amazon.com. Once a reader has gone to Amazon via either of these methods, s/he can shop for any item. Any item s/he puts in her/his cart in the next 24 hours and purchases within 90 days (usually) will earn me an advertising fee.

Going through the Rubber Tramp Artist blog to shop on Amazon costs the reader/shopper nothing extra. Amazon pays the advertising fee, not the reader/shopper.

Every month, I receive a list of items folks who clicked through my blog purchased from Amazon, but there’s absolutely no names linked to these purchases. I’ll never know who bought what items.

Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods
Of course, I’m not encouraging folks to buy things they don’t want or need. However, by going through my blog to make Amazon purchases, readers can help me earn a little money to keep me on the road.

I appreciate everything folks have done to help me since I’ve started this blog. Thanks for every donation, every necklace and collage and hat that’s been bought from me, and every Amazon purchase that’s originated from this blog. Also, a big THANKS to my computer guy who set things up so I could participate in the Amazon Associates program.

 

New Year, New Look

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Dear Readers,

Welcome to the new Rubber Tramp Artist site. It’s still me, Blaize Sun, sharing my stories, rants, and observations.

Rubber Tramp Artist used to be Throwing Stories Into the Ether. Although almost a year ago when I started writing, I really did feel as if I was sending my words out into the clouds, I now know I have readers (followers, even). The new name, Rubber Tramp Artist, says more about me and my life (and is shorter and–hopefully–easier to remember).

If you are a subscriber, thank you. I’ve transferred my subscribers to this new site. However, if you don’t get a notification of a post from me tomorrow, you can scroll down this page and subscribe again

I’ve transferred all the previous posts here, so you should be able to find your old favorites (or click around and see what I’ve been up to, if you are a new reader).

I wouldn’t be on this beautiful new page right now if it hadn’t been for the help of a dear computer-savvy friend. (Thank you.)

Thanks also to all of my readers, especially the folks who took time to write comments.

I hope 2016 is great for us all.

 

In appreciation,

Blaize Sun

Pulled Over

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The events in today’s post happened several weeks after the events of yesterday’s post, in August 2015.

I got pulled over by a cop on the way back to my campground after my day off in Babylon. The funny thing is that I know the cop! It was Officer S., my co-worker’s neighbor. Officer S. is a sheriff’s deputy, and I’ve talked to him in my campground and in the parking lot. He’s always been very nice and polite to me, but the bottom line is, he’s still a cop.

We passed each other going in opposite directions on the road up the mountain, and when I looked over, I thought There goes Officer S. in his sheriff’s department truck. The next thing I knew, the sheriff’s department truck was coming up behind me like a bat out of hell with the lights flashing. I thought he must have just gotten an emergency call to head in the direction I was going.

I pulled off the road, into a turn-out, expecting him to pass me, but he pulled in behind me. WTF?!?!? I wasn’t speeding. I wasn’t driving weird.

I wasn’t scared because I hadn’t been doing anything wrong. I hadn’t been drinking (I haven’t had an alcoholic drink in over two years), and there were no guns or drugs in the van. But I sure as hell was wondering why he was pulling me over.

I turned off my music and sat with my hands on the steering wheel. I didn’t want him to think I was digging around for a gun while I was digging around for my license and registration and insurance card. I figured I could dig around after I told him what I was digging for.

When he walked up to the driver’s side of the van, I told him through the small side window that the main window doesn’t roll down and asked if I should open the door. He assented by reaching to open the door himself. When the door opened and he saw me, he looked sheepish and said he thought I was someone else.

I thought, Yeah, Alfonso Gonzalez, but I didn’t say that aloud.

Turns out he thought I was someone else other than Alfonso Gonzalez. He thought I was some other little gal in a van. He thought I was some crazy lady (he made the swirling finger next to his ear sign), some lady who’d told him her van (with Illinois plates) was in storage in Babylon. He thought she’d taken her Illinois plates off the van and put on New Mexico plates. At least he had the decency to look embarrassed when he realized he’d pulled over the wrong little gal.

He asked me where I was heading, and I must have given him a strange look because he said, Oh, the campground, just as I said the name of my campground.

I asked if he wanted to see anything (meaning license, registration, insurance card, but I should probably rephrase the question in the future because I realized after I said it that it might sound like a come-on line). He said no, which was good, as I don’t think he had any probable cause to pull me over, since I wasn’t the little gal he thought I was.

I guess now I’m one of the locals who knows the cops.

Acceptance

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I actually wrote yesterday’s post before I read What It Looks Like by Marta Maranda. In that book, I read a few lines Maranda wrote about acceptance which much better express what I was getting at when I wrote

I get accepting oneself as one is. I get forgiving oneself for what one has done in the past. But releasing ALL concepts that one should be ANYTHING but what one is? That seems like a little much.

This is what Maranda says about acceptance:

…acceptance is not an opportunity to be dismissive. It does not mean you escape responsibility for your actions. And it is not a justification for future inaction, or a way to disregard the lesson that must be learned. (p. 334)

So, yes, we should accept ourselves and each other as we are, but that doesn’t mean we should quit trying to be better people.

I accept that I’ve made mistakes in the past and realize I can’t change what I’ve already done. However, I can change what I do in the future. It’s not enough simply to hope I don’t make the same mistakes again. I’m gonna have to work at it.