Compliments for 100 Dollars

I walk past a middle school at lunch every day. Most days we all just carry on with our own work (mine: dog walking, theirs: game playing), but today was different.

As I walked by the school yard, one of the kids kicked a ball over the fence and across the street. She asked if I would throw it back over, apologizing a lot as she did. It’s no real burden for me, so I retrieved it and threw it back over.

Another student asked if I could help retrieve a second ball, and then a third (there wasn’t a fourth). Again, not a problem, so I returned those balls as well. And then he said this:

“You’re so generous! Thank you! If I could pay you $100 I would, but I don’t have any money. Your dog is beautiful and healthy. Have a good day!”

Now, I can’t be sure of what drove him to have that little interaction with me. But I would like to imagine it’s a mixture of these things:

  1. Having a very high valuation of time.
  2. Having a very low valuation of a dollar.
  3. Having an innate sense for the existence of reciprocity.

Which then led him to decide that, knowing that he needed to pay for the use of my expensive time, a compliment to my dog was worth $100.

Talking to Strangers: The Elevator

“May I call you Dental Claims Girl?” he asked, reaching around me to push the elevator button.
“Only if I can call you 11th Floor Guy,” I replied, removing my gloves.
“I have a name, you know,” he replied. I turned to look at him.
“So do I.”

He asked my name and said “Ah. You’re French.”
“You’re Armenian.”
“Tunisian,” he said, shrugging.
“So you speak French.”

He asked why I thought he was Armenian.

I didn’t really have a reason, I guess. I told him as much, too. It was suddenly like I’d entered an episode of Sports Talk. Only sentences with five words or less.

The elevator reached my floor.

“To be continued?” he said, holding the door open.
“Yea,” I called over my shoulder, “serial elevator conversations!”
“It would be a best selling book!”

Talking to Strangers: The Market

I got some Greek yogurt at the market this evening. I was just reading this morning how I could make some for myself and had gone to get the ingredients. Clearly I intended to make some for myself.

I should mention that I do not, as a general rule, choose to make yogurt in my kitchen.

I’ve been wanting Greek yogurt for some time – I’d safely say months – and haven’t been able to find any. I therefore took to the internet in search of recipes. I’d made my way through a fair number of them and had chosen one that seemed authentic yet fairly simple and made my way to the grocery store, armed with this information.

I had to be directed to a number of items.

Halfway through this, I ran into one of the stock boys that I always see on Wednesdays. He asked what I was doing and I explained the whole thing about the yogurt.

“Greek yogurt?” he asked, playing with the diamond stud in his ear.
“Yea… it’s yogurt but thicker.”
“We have Greek yogurt…”

I looked at him through squinty eyes, head half-cocked.

“You mean to say,” I started, gesturing with my bag of Twizzlers, “that you’ve had this all along?”
“No, I just stocked it last night. C’mere”

I followed him to the “Health Market” and smiled as he made jokes about it being my favorite section. He reached behind the fruit and produced Greek with Honey and Greek with Blueberries. One in each hand.

“Organic… I know you like that,” he said, chuckling, “and Greek and single serving for my favorite single lady.”

I smiled back as he took my basket.

“I’ll put these ingredients back.”

The Balanced Life

I’m  doing badly at being balanced. I sort of feel like it’s leftover from before, really, as though I was already not doing the laundry so that fact that the laundry remains undone is just residual. However, this evening as I was being guilt-tripped quite effectively, I started to get that familiar feeling.

“You’re just not being disciplined enough,” a voice inside my head hissed.

It’s true:
– That I am almost always up by 6, 7 at the latest.
– That I spend an average of 8 hours a day in my apartment and six of those tend to be spent asleep.
– That I have about three jobs.
– That I go to the gym two or three times a week.

It’s not true:
– That I have a family to care for.
– That I have a pet.
– That I am incapable of doing my own shopping.
– That I am using my time 100% wisely.

But still, I can’t imagine being very much more disciplined. I suppose I could start planning my day in 15 minute segments. Or I could plan out all of my free time, all the time thus defeating the very idea of free time. I could refuse to do anything spontaneous again ever.

These solutions just seem so excessive.

The Week I Was a Runner

I was running for a small period of time with a large German man. By small period I mean until it got cold. So… one week just before Thanksgiving, that’s how long I ran with him.

M Marine was asking me about it during a recent long, tedious drive to Ohio. We had just finished trying to calculate the actual speed of his truck if you took into account the new, larger tires. I suppose it was time to move to a more mundane subject. He asked if I’d been running recently with his friend the Giant Gentle German (heretofore know as GGG).

“Of course not,” I said to him, turning my nose up at the thought.
“Why not?” he asked in return.
“Because it’s cold,” I replied. The ‘you idiot’ was probably implied a little more strongly than necessary.
“Cold just makes you work harder,” he laughed. “It makes the survival instincts kick in.”

I’m sorry, but whomever it was that discovered this should just be locked in a room somewhere. I remember when I first read that article in the New York Times. I posted it to facebook. I was highly skeptical and not because I just don’t like to exercise, as it has been suggested.

It’s because, dear reader, freezing cold temperatures do not inspire me to rush out and run far distances. It makes my jaw hurt, my nose hurt, my lungs hurt. There is a distinct feeling of suffocation in the winter times for me and my immediate survival technique is to get out of there. I mean, who when faced with freezing climes ever thought to themselves “best go for a run” before they thought “best make some form of shelter”?

Yes it’s true, GGG may think along the lines of physical activity to stave off death but I want to construct a lean-to next to the jet fuel storage units.

Jet fuel, yes, since we run at the airport. Air field, something like that. Ran, rather. We ran for a week there. Running, I’m told, is bad for the body so I’ve been keeping up the yoga and hiding from the cold.

That Christmas When Everyone Fretted Over the Weather

“You know, you should really leave soon,” he said to me. It was JJ calling from five floors down. “I’m leaving at noon, I’ll take you to your car. It’ll probably need to be scraped.”

He was right, it would be in need of a good ice scraper. I agreed with him on that.

“I can’t leave yet,” I said.
“Are you at least going to leave early?” he asked me. I told him I was leaving around 4. He scoffed at the idea.

Almost immediately I received a call from M Marine. I missed it but he left me a message saying that he was watching my weather and I should probably leave early. He then sent me a text saying the weather in my state was about to get bad and I should leave now if I could.

I called him back, because I didn’t actually listen to the voice mail he left. He told me I needed to leave now if I could. “I’ve been watching the weather there and here both,” he said calmly, “and if you left right now you might miss everything.”

I hung on until 2:30, scraped the ice off of my car, and headed south for Christmas. I was nearly to the state line when my mother called to ask where I was – apparently she’d been told I left at noon. I asked what the weather was like and she said it was doing nothing and was 40 degrees out. She was inside a church though, so I called M Marine to ask him.

“Hang on, I’ll go look.” A moment later he told me there was no precipitation but there were gusty winds. “About 36 degrees. We won’t be getting really bad weather for another hour. Will you be home by then?”
“Yea, I’ll be home. I’ll call to let you know I’m safe.”

I hung up and found a new text from JJ telling me that the weather up north was officially bad and he hoped I’d left. Also to call when I got there so he knows I wasn’t dead.

And all the time I was being annoyed by the constant pestering, I reminded myself that it’s better than not having anyone who cared at all.

I arrived safely, called everyone I supposed to call, and was asked this question by M Marine:

“How’s the car?”
“Well, it has little icy strips along the side where the rain froze. And also the antenna looks like a skewer of ice cubes. The side mirrors have a centimeter thick coating of ice. There is a little accumulation of street sludge behind the wheels.”
“… that’s good… but I guess I meant that whole problem you had with starting it.”
“Oh, that’s fine too.”

Again, good to have people fretting over you.