Sunday, December 27, 2009

Observations from behind the counter....

Sooooo....being behind the counter at two completely different jobs gives one a perspective on the human condition not easily seen from behind a desk in an office. I get to see the tired...the dirty...the greedy...the sneaky...the lost...and yes...the clueless. I also get to hear things, see things, and occasionally take part in things I'd be just as happy not to partake of. *sigh* such is life.

Anyhow...a few moments caught during my many many MANY hours working this past 3 weeks that I feel are worth repeating. Needless to say...a little humor (dark and dry none the less) goes along way to making the clock move closer to check out time and home to the kids.

Enjoy. Or not.

Every Saturday or Sunday night a man, of whom I believe is Mexican, comes into the store and buys the same thing. A 6 pack of beer and two boxes of condoms. Last week he also included a little device I didn't even know we sold...apparently it gives "more pleasure to the woman in your life". Ive worked in this store for about 3 months now...he has ALWAYS come in on one of those days and buys just those items. Might I also add he generally has a swagger in his walk and a lazy smile on his face? I thought not. Anyhow, this past weekend he didn't show up...I'm wondering...did he get married by chance? Now the need for protection AND pleasing the "woman in your life" is obsolete as she is now your wife. Ha!!!

Maybe hes just resting?

Side note...of ALL the packs of condoms I have sold in the store...and its been a lot...ALL of them have been sold to people I assume are Mexican (not trying to typecast or anything...but sometimes looks are all you can go on). None to White Americans so to speak. Not trying to point fingers...but SOMEONE is having unprotected sex. Does your mother know?

I can always spot a potential shop lifter. We basically get the same people in the shop night after night. The few "strangers" are either travellers...or punks from other neighborhoods coming to take their chances in a store that doesn't know them. You can spot them by one of several ways.

1. They keep looking at you over the shelves as they "browse". hmmm? Is my hair a mess?

2. The wear VERY baggy jackets and pants...very. Need help pulling those pants up son?

3. They pick up stuff and put it back again and again. Such picky shoppers.

4. They might even decide to leave...but then turn back and "browse" again.

5. For those that attempt to actually buy the alcohol rather than steal soon as you ask for ID they do a pat down of their entire body, as if they suddenly forgot wear they keep their wallet, and claim they need to go get it from the car. Never come back. For those that do attempt to steal...the 42,000 cameras IN PROMINENT DISPLAY throughout the store...seems to bother them not at all.

Smile punks...your on Kelly's camera.

Ive discovered that the reading skills of Americans (I say Americans as I AM in America so lets assume most or a majority of those coming in the store are in fact American...OK?) has slid down that slippery slope even faster than previously imagined.

Take for instance, a sign on our front door indicating THIS DOOR IS BROKEN...PLEASE USE OTHER DOOR...merely results in a multitude of potential customers banging into the door as they attempt to open it. hmmm?

A sign I place on the door every night at closing that says CLOSED in big prominent RED LETTERS seems to have no meaning to the many customers that still park their cars...come to the doors and attempt to open them. Not once but several if jiggling the doors will make the CLOSED sign magically disappear and the doors open. I will indicate by a sweeping motion with my arms that the doors are, in fact, CLOSED. They will stand there with puppy dog faces trying to get me to open them so they can come in and purchase that last "needed" item. If I for a moment thought that last "needed" item was milk or bread for the kids breakfast I would open that door with no hesitation...but I know your much needed item is more than likely a pack of smokes or 12 pack of Bud thanks...door is closed...move along. Next?

People can no longer read a price tag. Not even a little bit. Ive lost count of the number of times Ive been asked how much something costs...and so I point out the price tag, generally in a bright red or flashy yellow sticker. They ALWAYS act amazed and claim they didn't see it...but I think they just don't know how to read numbers...or something. hmmmm? It happens far too often to be a coincidence.

When something declares itself 50% off...yes people...that does mean HALF!!! At least when I attended school a few eons ago 50% meant half...of course now days with economics being what they are...maybe 50% really means something customers are just checking to be sure. hmmmm? Better check into that.

Some random comments and things Id like to share with you guys.

Last week a guy comes in late at night, a traveller, and ask me if I'm afraid to work alone in a store in which the chances for robbery are high statistically speaking. I told him that, while a few customers make me nervous when I'm alone, for the most part it hasn't been bad. (lets forget for a moment that it only takes ONE bad customer to change that thinking *sigh*). He commented that even though he was a man (hmmm?) that he would be "fucking afraid" to work there late at night...and he "carried a gun". Damn!!! Wheres the Jobs Wanted section of the paper? If a man with a gun is chicken shit to do my job...well heck...

One night a guy comes in wearing a cool jacket. I commented on its coolness. He thanked me and left the store. A week later he came back with a similar jacket in his hands and gave it to me. It was a Columbia jacket. Apparently "the best" winter coat anyone can have...according to the many people Ive asked about it as nearly 90% of the people here wear one. I went to the store to buy one before but they cost a pretty penny...anywhere from $100 to $200...and this guy just GAVE me one. How cool is that?

Now granted I just came from 23 years living in the Arab world in which its customary to be given something outright that you admired....whether you want it or not....but that almost NEVER happens in least not the America I know. Then again...I haven't been back that long. hmmm? My jacket is the coolest.

Lady walks into the Calendar Club store Ive been working in and asks..."are these calendars for 2010?" hmmm? I'm thinking she required a smack on the back of the head...but I withheld for legal reasons.

Guy looks at my smooshed car and says..."did something crash into your car?" hmmm?

Lady runs into the store with small child and very dirty hands...shes like..."quick...sell me some Wet Ones so I can clean her hands!!!" I'm like..."why don't you take her to the bathroom and wash her hands?" ....Lady is like..."yeah...that will work too." and hurries off towards the bathrooms. hmmm?

Here is a thought to leave with all of you would be customers. If you come into a store and see the employee mopping the a small kindness and at least attempt to WIPE YOUR FEET BEFORE ENTERING...the life you save could be your own. I'm Just Saying.

That is all for now.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Oooohhhhh the Irony People...such a kick in the ass.

Early yesterday morning (12:30 am) I was leaving work after a very tiring day...and just down the street from work was a cop car with a driver pulled over. Unlike Bahrain where cops mean next to nothing...over here flashing lights and a cop car in your rear view mirror means something.

I made a note to keep under the speed limit. Seeing as how it was slippery with snow and ice any how that was an easy promise to keep.

It takes about 15 min to drive from work to my house and all along the route there were cops with people pulled over. Blue and red flashing lights could be seen EVERYWHERE...I even had a cop pull out and drive behind me for a block or two...definitely gets you feeling guilty for absolutely EVERYTHING you have done...real or imagined. I slowed down even more.

Eventually the pressure became too much as the cop was not going any faster and I just KNEW he/she was waiting for me to make a I decided to pull into an all night store parking lot pretending I was going to buy something (as if the cop would know

Little did I know THAT was the mistake I made. *sigh*

After giving the cop a moment to pass on by and forget all about me...I pulled out and went on my "merry" way...still below the limit and being watchful of more cops.

The closer I got to home the better I felt. I just had a FEELING that something was going to happen...if I only knew.

I finally pulled onto the last street to my apartment and there was ANOTHER cop right there with someone pulled over. Quota people? I clicked on the left signal turn and waited for a truck coming towards me to pass on by so I could turn into my apartment parking lot and FINALLY be home and off any cops radar....

suddenly out of nowhere a car came crashing into my drivers side door. If I could describe the sound of metal crashing into metal people....its unbelievably loud and jarring. It keeps repeating over and over in my mind. It was soooo freakin loud!!!

It was like the WHOLE WORLD BECAME SCREECHING METAL!!! I thought my heart had literally stopped in my chest the shock and suddenness of it all was so overwhelming and frightening.

Over to my left the car that had hit me came to a stop and a teenager immediately jumped from the passenger side and started screaming at the driver. He was shouting things like..."it wasn't me it was you"..."you did this not MEEEEE"!

Immediately that cop that had been down the street was on the scene. I looked back at the car and the driver had leaned over to shut the passenger door (maybe thinking of driving away...all though his car was completely totaled) and he had blood pouring down his face. Later I seen why...his front window had a huge hole where his head went through it. Seat belts people. Seat belts.

I was still sitting there nearly hyperventilating heart was thundering in my chest and my ears were making a horrible wooshing sound. I thought I was going to pass out for a few moments there. I remember removing my seat belt (so glad I ALWAYS wear that law or no law) but then replaced it so the cops would SEE I was wearing it. I tried opening the door but it wouldn't open...all bashed in.

The cop had rushed over and called an ambulance when he seen the driver was bleeding (I still have no idea what became of that bad his injuries were) then came and asked me if I was hurt. At the time I thought "no" so told him so....he went off to check the driver of a truck that had also been struck.

Long story short. The teen driver was extremely drunk. He was driving much too fast for the slippery roads of course...and driving drunk anyhow...a recipe for disaster for sure. I'm quite sure he didn't even see me stopped with my blinker on waiting to turn...or maybe he did at the last moment as he hit me while I was turning...which means he swerved. Then again that may have been from hitting the truck as well...who knows?

Turns out the driver of the truck that was hit was ALSO drunk. How nice. He eventually was arrested after failing a sobriety test. The teen passenger was going to be sent home with a relative who came to take him...but THAT guy got arrested TOO for having some sort of conviction against him AND for not having a drivers license. What sort of fool comes to face cops with all THAT on their

Cops checked my license and were quite happy to report I was the ONLY one that had a clean record. Yay me!!! for the moment....*sigh*

Eventually I waited in the FREEZING cold for about an hour and a half while the cops and ambulance dealt with the "real criminals" windows were broken so my car was freezing as well. One cop came and told me to just go home and they would get back to me the next day or so to get more info...yay...could hardly wait.

I got home and was too freaked to even sleep...and by now my body was starting to tell me didn't come out of that as injury free as you thought. Oh happy day!! I took some pain pills and tried to sleep.

The next morning I woke up and was as stiff as a board. I could hardly move ANYTHING...and my whole left side was aching and seriously playing a tune. My arm and shoulder particularly. I called my friend who recommended I go to the hospital to get checked out and two to document any injury for insurance purposes. I'm clueless to all that people...there is no insurance sort of thing in Bahrain.

Off I went with her and spent several hours getting X-rayed from every possible angle.

Verdict: Lots of sore muscles...LOTS...and a potential problem with my left shoulder which on the second day doesn't seem as bad as the first...all though the kick ass pain killers they gave me could have something to do with that. LOL

Cops still haven't gotten back to me so I have no idea about drunk teen driver and what happens next. 3 days home from work which DID NOT make my boss very happy but what can I do.

Car? don't get me started. *sigh* Ive only had it for TWO weeks...

Did I mention I hadn't been able to get insurance yet? Was waiting to get paid. So when the cops do show up...I might make it a "4 in 1" with EVERYONE getting arrested.

What are the laws in Wyoming concerning driving without car insurance? Not good I'm sure.

Story of my life.


P.S. sort of ironic that I stopped at the store in order to AVOID the cops...which, of course delayed me getting home...WHICH caused me to be in that place at that time waiting for a drunk driver to come out of the dark and change my life...ironic isnt it. *sigh*

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Force of Nature

I could describe my childhood as very lonely and isolated due to the fact that my father preferred his family to be cut off from neighbors, friends and family alike. Most of the places I lived during my childhood were either very small towns or we lived on the outskirts of town...or in some cases we lived out in the middle of visitors. He was even known to build 6 foot tall fences around our property just to keep any would be friendly neighbors from making forays into our yard.

Like I said...very isolating.

At any rate...all this isolation resulted in me not really able to form friendships that went much deeper than what could develop during school that would generally be the only place I could see my friends. I wasn't allowed after school activities, parties, driving, part time work etc that most teens took part was school and home...period.

Oh I had friends...don't get me wrong...some of them are still my friends to this day and I cherish those friendships...but Ive always felt I couldn't connect with them on a deeper level simply because I really hadn't had the experience. How well can u get to know someone that you see during lunch or the 10 min between classes etc?

School and home...remember.

My personality is somewhat of a conundrum really. I'm not very sociable. Period. I don't mix with people well...I don't start conversations if given the choice generally and I don't go out of my way to meet new people...its just not me. Once I know you that changes everything though...Ive been told I'm very funny with a sharp wit and an out of control laugh that leaves me breathless and hurting...but before that Ive been told I come off as cold and somewhat defensive. Blame it on my isolated childhood and 20 year marriage to an equally isolating husband...its deeply entrenched and not likely to change anytime soon no matter how I try to improve that (could try harder I know).

Anyhow, to make a long story probably longer, I want to talk about my best friend and the one person I love only slightly less than my own children. She recently visited me after not seeing her for two months (a lifetime it seems). She travelled from Bahrain just to see me and the kids...her "nieces and nephews" by love tho not by blood. 8 days of laughter and fun...and a chance for my kids to remember their Arab roots if even just for a short time.

I met her March 23, 2006 and its the one day I will remember forever. I walked in her sitting room and came face to face with a true Force of Nature. Life hasn't been the same since. (I would put her pic but she wears hijab and I don't have any with her wearing it just now)

Funny enough, my tendency to be unsociable nearly caused us never to meet in the first place. She was the guidance counsellor at my daughters school and from the time my daughter met her she just had a feeling she and I would be good friends...the trick was to get her reluctant Mom to actually agree to meet her.

She worked hard people...daily reminders for nearly a YEAR!!! heard me right. It took me nearly a year to finally agree to meet my soon to be bestest best friend. When I think of the time I wasted procrastinating I could seriously hurt myself. Time wasted cant be reclaimed...*sigh*.

At any rate...I FINALLY agreed to meet her...reluctantly for sure. I practically dragged my feet to her house (which incidentally turned out to be barely a few hundred yards from my house in we lived nearly next to each other for 9 years without meeting prior is still a mystery to us).

I was literally dragged over to her house by my daughter who, by this time, had completely lost patience with me and was NOT taking no for an answer. She was expecting imagine our dismay when her mother answered the door and told us she was sleeping and wasn't seeing visitors.

Vindication for me!!! This is why I'm not sociable many irritating qualities that I hate...missing appointments or meetings or being late irks me to no end (ironic considering...well you'll see). I walked away somewhat miffed and determined not to come back. Later I learned she was pregnant and so forgave her missing our appointment...Ive been pregnant and so know how exhaustion can overwhelm you. When she called later that day to apologize and to invite me over again...I agreed (still reluctant but she sounded so inviting over the phone).

3 days later...March 23, 2006...I dropped my kids at their aunts house with promises that I would be back in about half an hour (as much as I was willing to give for a first to have lunch with them. I drove to her house...sat in her sitting room for around 15 min (waiting for her would become a familiar feeling forever after that...shes lousy with the time) and grew increasingly irritated with the wait. I was nearly ready to head for the door when she FINALLY breezed in with a smile on her face that lights up a can I stay mad at someone that smiles like that?

She was then, and still is, a force to be reckoned with...and I count myself lucky and blessed to have her in my life...and to be considered important and cared for in hers.

From that very first visit we clicked on so many levels it wasn't even funny. Its like we had known each other for years. My half hour visit turned into 2.5 hours and probably would have gone on longer if my children hadn't been calling me every 15 min wondering where I was. I dragged myself away RELUCTANTLY people!!! I'm usually the first one out the door and the sooner the better...but we were having such a good time...for once in my life I felt comfortable and welcomed and our instant connection was hard to believe. It had never happened to me before that I could so quickly dive into a friendship with no holds hesitating and full speed ahead. It was so unlike me...once I left I had to think really hard as to why SHE had such an affect on me? I had met plenty of people during my 20 years in Bahrain...many Bahraini women at that...but even after that many years I wasn't very close to any of them...I could take them or leave them...nothing in common and I preferred my own company to, what basically boiled down to, women who spent copious amounts of time gossiping...and ignoring me while I sat among them.

A Force of Nature people...I cant describe her any better than that.

From the moment we met our relationship has been chaotic...frenetic...we argue constantly...we laugh until we are gasping...we slam doors in each others faces (ok maybe that's just me) and we promise never to see each other again...and then are at the others house before the day is over. Even when we are so mad at each other we could spit nails...we are still impelled to call or stop by to make sure the other is ok. She is my most ardent supporter and defender, has helped me and my children in far too many ways to count, fights for me and them without hesitation and with the ferocity of a lioness over her cubs. I could mention how she has helped me financially in ways I could never count...but then when she reads this she will kick my ass for sure (sorry has to be said). She never hesitates to help me when I need it (and even when I don't but she thinks I do...reason for many arguments).

The ironic thing about our relationship is that we virtually have NOTHING in common. We argue about EVERYTHING!!! There are so many things about the Arab culture that I just cant wrap my head around (and don't want to) and she is Arab to the core.

She is late FOR EVERYTHING!!! Everything people. I have lost count of the times I have paced...sat in the car...banged on her door...dragged her out of bed or called numerous times on her phone just to get her moving.

I HATE PEOPLE WHO ARE CONSTANTLY LATE...AND SHE IS THE QUEEN OF LATE!!! Figure that one out cause I sure cant.

She irritates me in ways too numerous to mention. I'm more often mad at her than anything (I still cant figure out why or how she puts up with me and my temper)...she is a button pusher and not only pushes my buttons but jumps up and down on them until I want to pull hair out (preferably hers).

BUT...she makes me laugh until I cant breath...makes me feel cared for and loved...makes me feel like there is someone on MY side for matter what...listens to me cry and berate myself over past mistakes...and either cries with me or kicks my ass and brings me back from the black. She supports me, defends me, depends on me (in ways I don't understand) and loves me unconditionally. She makes my children feel they still have family even though their blood family abandoned them wholesale. She is their connection to their past and to their Arab roots. She constantly reminds them that love is thicker than blood...and hers is constant and limitless. They get just as irritated with her constant lectures and demands to remember who they are and where they come from...but they miss her when shes gone and know she loves them...she is family.

She is everything that I am not. Sociable. Forthright. Loud. Commanding. A Leader. Open. Helpful. Honest ( and when she loves someone...she makes them feel it, experience it, bask in it, look forward to it, get comfortable with it, and expect more of it. She makes you feel important and needed...even when its the last thing you feel. People come to her with their problems...night and day...her phone never stops ringing...cause they know her ability to sort things out and make things right. Her own brothers turn to her for advice and leadership...very rare in the Arab world (yes they still try and "put her in her place" as a female...but that ship has sailed people) not to mention the "important" business, ministry and official type people in Bahrain that have her number and are forever calling her for some kind of help or another. (ironic considering they also want to put her in jail for having those exact qualities they depend on for help...her willingness to speak her mind and make things right)

To say I have a friend that has connections and knows people is an understatement. That can either be a blessing or a curse depending on time and

Anyhow, she just came to visit us as I said for 8 short days. She reminded me how important she is to us. Reminded me of the sunshine she brings into our lives and the laughter and fun we have when she is around (when shes not busy pissing us off etc lol) Reminded me how she supports me, cares for me and loves me and the kids without limit or hesitation.

She is the ONLY hesitation I had about leaving Bahrain. I knew how much I would miss the kids would miss her. I knew the move would be hard on her and on us. Its not easy finding a friend like her...especially for me...and I was leaving that behind. Yes of course we are still close and important to each other...distance doesn't change that...but its not the same as being together as everyone knows. Its been hard...very hard.....but....

She is still ours.

Our Force of Nature.

And I love her.

Dear Maryam Al are loved. Know that.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Back on line people...thought it would never happen.

Well finally after many weeks (far too many) of having haphazard net access resulting in few and far between posts...Im happy to say Im back online as I now have net in MY OWN HOUSE!!!


Too bad for all of you that have been must wait just a bit longer as Ive got to get some sleep...just got home from work and Im too pooped to pop...or blog in this case.

Stay tuned and maybe something interesting will occupy this space in the near never can tell about things like that. Random like and all....