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Three score and ten or more

Friday, November 11, 2005

a reaction to Sauer's core pet peeves.

I have been away for awhile, vacationing and searching out genealogy and excellent (and some not so excellent) food up in Williamsburg, Virginia. We decided to make the trip at this time 1. because my wife has a lot of distant ancestors from that part of the country, and 2. because we own a timeshare and our deposit, from before my last adventures in surgery, was about to expire if I didn’t use it, and I can’t stand not getting my money’s worth. We didn’t need a two bedroom, two bath condo, but we made do.
As far as food is concerned in that area, Christina Campbell’s tavern on the fringes of Colonia Williamsburg is a little pricey, but wonderful. The food is great (both sea food and steaks) the atmosphere is wonderful and they have a sort of unofficial floorshow that is a delight. If , only a few miles away on Richmond Road, you happen upon a really fancy seafood place called SeaFare, aim for the nearby chain restaurants (Red Lobster, The Olive Garden, or even Wendy’s). It too is a little pricey and they served the worst seafood platter I have ever tasted (or at least stirred with my fork) along with baked potatoes that were hours, if not days old. There oughta be a law.

Before posting anything, I decided to skim the blogosphere, and one of my first sites was
Saurkraut Speaks Frankly which I read often, and I found that, because she is having surgery soon, she presented a list of her “core” posts and invited the guests to read through the core. I quickly determined that I was an unworthy customer. She listed pet peeves, and I qualified for almost all of them.

One of the first was annoying friends who sell Party/Life. Now I not only haven’t sold party life, I don’t even know what it is, but I began selling stuff through parties almost as soon as I graduated from High School. My first product was called LIFETIME STAINLESS STEEL COOKWARE, a low heat waterless (or almost waterless) cookware that cost about three hundred bucks back in the day when that was a month’s salary for a union railroad worker. The parties were not sneaky. Customers had to invite friends and get rsvps because I had to buy food and prepare a meal using the cookware.. I am a good cook and folks ate well but they paid for it by 1. watching me cook, and 2. listening to my pitch. I think everyone had a good time, and I always sold enough to pay for the groceries with a little (and a couple of times, a lot) to spare. I have peddled a lot of other stuff, some in direct sales, some in stores, but if you have heard of A.L. Williams, Kaire Inc. (magic medicinal elixirs, especially pychnogynol), NSA water filters, Melaleuca (for which I am still a customer and, almost twenty years after I quit doing it, I am still receiving monthly commissions). I will reassure Saur that I have never been involved with a stealth presentation (you know, the ones who invite you to dinner and spring the sales pitch on you after the appetizers.) so maybe I can continue to read her blog----

But her next pet peeve was high school drama teachers who taught “the method”. I only did it at the high school level for a few years, but I did it at the college level for more than thirty years. If she reads Nancy King’s THE MAGIC IF (a book for teaching “the method” to children and Richard Boleslavki’s--- shoot I can’t remember the title, I have been retired for ten years, and at my age remembering Boleslavski’s name was a coup) she will dislike “the method” a little less. I promise, I have never placed an actor on the stage and asked him to “Be a treeee, be a tree”. I confess that some of the actors in a little improvisational group I directed once played the part of trees, but they were primarily trying to make snacks out of Hansel and Gretel.

Let’s see, one of the next pet peeves was proselyting missionaries. I did that for the Mormon church in Finland for three years. I would assure Polanco that I would not harass her for being a Buddhist. I might have come back a few times to ask questions about Buddhism if she allowed it (I didn’t know much about it at the time). I was a missionary in Finland where Lutheranism is the state church, and a lot of people were pretty casual about their religion. Polanco wouldn’t approve, but I prided myself a lot that, although I didn’t turn a whole lot of folks into Mormons, by challenging their ideas, I turned a whole lot of casual Lutherans into Lutherans who knew what their church stood for and made informed choices about their future participation. The fact remains though, that I was one of the despised proselyting missionaries. I may not have succeeded in affirming my worthiness to Saur’s inner circle, but at least I came home a better, more tolerant and more informed human being. I was also there right after the Second World War and got to see first hand the results of both Fascist German, and Communist Russian

I suspect that there are folks who have thought I was the customer from hell, but at least Saur never had to worry about whether I had tried on thong underwear and then returned it to stock (If you haven’t read her tome on customers from hell, you should, If I did it right –highly unlikely—there is a link above.) I do remember one of my hissy fits (it’s a southern term) that could be qualified as a customer from hell and even as a verbal abuser (another core dislike) I pulled into a local minute mart one day for gas. I filled the tank on my little 75 Honda which took about 13 gallons maximum. I clicked on the gas filler while I went about washing windows, checking oil etc.(another one of my youthful professional stints). When I got back the pump said that I had used 34 gallons. I cursed for second, assuming that the pump hadn’t shut itself off and I had spilled many gallons on the ground. Lo and behold the ground was dry, nothing had spilled.

In high dudgeon (I have often wonder what a dudgeon is – high or low) I marched into the store and began to verbally explain, first in low tones, later in high tones, occasionally using vocabulary that would have shocked that missionary in Finland, that I didn’t owe for thirty four gallons, the most I could have pumped was twelve or so (I had the service manual in hand) and the poor young fellow, who probably was not in one of my classes only by his good fortune, began to get smaller and smaller behind the counter. He did insist that if he didn’t collect the money he would be held responsible and I invited (what a polite term for an impolite offer) him to call his manager or the police or anyone else. (By this time cars were backed up for miles--- well, yards anyway) . I didn’t realize the full force of my abuse on this poor kid till a female customer, waiting to pay for a candy bar or something, broke into tears and threw a five dollar bill on the counter, stating that perhaps that would help pay the bill, but she (sobbing again) couldn’t remain in such a non-Christian environment.

I really didn’t fully realize how abusive I had been until that moment. I took out my business card, wrote a note to the owner of the minute mart (who lived at the end of my block) asking him to call me to straighten this out. (It actually straightened out fairly easily). But, I still quiver in shame about this mess. I remember some of my teen age experiences in sales and suspect that I would have crawled home and hid under the bed, shotgun in hand, if I had been so thoroughly, if not physically attacked.)

I may barely crawl back past the pet peeves into good graceshaving shared Saur's “thrill of the hunt”. No one who has worked in theatre for very long (well maybe on broadway or in major films) without succumbing, at least temporarily, to the lust for old, beautiful stuff from yard sales, auctions, even occasional garbage cans.. My house is a veritable museum of Victorian and Edwardian stuff, none of which was purchased retail. In it is my wife’s collection of Nativity scenes, pewter dragons, and James Christensen figures, along with my collection of puppets—a little of which was purchased retail, but not much. Saur, if you read this, this is my partial redemption. I am out of space, but I could tell some tales about naïve college students that would make your friend Bambi seem almost sophisticated (to the rest of you, seek out the blog and read it. The reading is delightful, and for the rest of you, probably won’t even create guilt feelings. Oh, I forgot to mention how much I despise Heavy Metal and why. Perhaps later.
I hope you feel much better after your surgery. I haven't generally felt a lot better, but I can walk without limping and am still alive after a quadrupal bypass, and perhaps that's all one can ask.


At 12:29 AM, Blogger Davo said...

'Tis indeed a pleasure to read something intelligent and articulate.
(sheesh, ldpcydhd? .. and me struggling t' type, Oh well, word verification gets me to concentrate (grins))

At 4:29 AM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

I am delighted that Kathleen told me to check out this post! It was wonderful, and I truly appreciated the insight into you.

You are certainly more than welcome to be included in the 'inner circle' (there really isn't one, I suppose - although perhaps I haven't been informed) and find that you and I actually have a great deal in common, which I suspected.

A close and very beloved relative (who looks a great deal like you) is a college prof also. He remains very exasperated by the regression he sees in today's youth.

I've had friends who are Mormons, and am familiar with the missionary work each one is expected to do. When I was young, I actually did quite a bit of proselytizing myself. Interesting to find that the people you approached grew to know their faith better, by and large.

But when you were a young Mormon, the church frowned upon Mormons learning about other religions, so I assume you've grown more open-minded and questioning over the years (as I have).

Kathleen really enjoyed this post, and I have too. Thanks for flattering me by reading my various thoughts. I appreciate your interest greatly, and I look forward to reading more of yours.

Incidentally, I'm adding you to my links.


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