Monday, May 4, 2015

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, Lay Ornithologist

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom wears many hats. Yesterday, she was a lay ornithologist. That's an unqualified person who studies birds. Okay, maybe untrained would be more appropriate, but for Mrs. HM, the former description fits.

The object of my study was actually one of The Devil's Handmaidens. Uh huh. I'm sure it will come as a shock to you that something was a bit off about one of the checkers at The Devil's Playground. And of course it would be the one whose line Mrs. Hilbilly Mom chose of her own accord.

She seemed normal enough when I hitched my cart to her conveyor. Sure, she looked like that chicken daughter on the Progressive Insurance commercial, where Flo says, "I didn't turn your daughter into a chicken, she just looks like that." I didn't think anything of it, until that Devil's Handmaiden turned out to be a real cuckoo.

My first clue that something might be amiss was when she came around the turntable bag thingy to scan items I left in the cart. I do that, you know, to help both of us. I always turn the bar code where her gun can reach it easily. I separate the two four-packs of strawberry water we hang on the edge of the cart so she knows to scan both of them. I'm not out to make a buck or three off The Devil.

So, in my cart, where I said, "I have some things for you to scan," I had a case of Coke, a three-pack of Puffs With Lotion, those two water four-packs, and a case of bendy straws. Yeah. It's not like I sip Coke like a fiend through striped bendy straws. They're for class. We build towers out of them, to support a tennis ball. So I picked up the whole box off the shelf, which had 12 individual boxes in it, each holding 100 bendy straws. That's 1200 bendy straws. I only needed 10 boxes, but in case some kids don't work well with others, I can split up a group if I have extra.

Chicker scanned the Coke and the water without incident. Then she went to the case of bendy straws. I had flipped one over to expose the bar code. So there were 12 sitting in the box, with one bar code showing.

"I flipped that one over for you. There are 12." I counted them out as I touched them. "Two, four, six, eight, ten, twelve." One would expect most checkers to scan the one, and hit the thingy to multiply it by 12. Not Chicker. She obsessively scanned that one single box of bendy straws twelve times. Then she moved on to the Puffs. Picked it up by the top, with her hand right over the bar code. She turned it every which way but loose, as I tried to help her.

"It's right there. Under your hand. Under your hand. Under your hand." Chicker finally set that three-pack back down and looked under her hand, and scanned it.

That in itself, even combined with her fowl appearance, was not enough for me to classify her as cuckoo. It was what happened as I moved bags into my cart. I grabbed them as she turned the carousel, glanced in to see if it was cold stuff to sort out in the back of T-Hoe to put under my coat, or mashables that needed to go in that child seat part of the cart. That's when I saw it, nestled between a six-pack bag of lunch Cheetos, and a long stalks bag of celery:

A BABY BLUE CAN OF GLADE AIR FRESHENER: CLEAN LINEN!

What in the world? I don't buy that stuff. I am a Febreze kind of gal, and only for school. I did not put that in my cart. Did The Pony need it for a class? For bonus? For NHS, where they're always bringing in weird stuff like cornstarch? He was about 20 feet away, playing his driving game in the arcade. I almost hollered over to ask him, "Hey, Pony! Did you put Glade Air Freshener in the cart?" But I figured even I was not up to forcing that level of embarrassment to be inflicted on my kid. I pulled the offending smellygood out of the bag.

"Excuse me. I don't remember putting this on the counter."

Chicker looked perplexed. She took it from me. Gave it a glance. And set it over to the side of her cash register. "You didn't." And then she went on ringing up my items from the conveyor!

"Um. Did you charge me for that?"

"No."

Chicker acted like I was out of place for asking. When she gave me the receipt after I scanned my debit card, I tried to look it over. No time. No glasses. I pushed the cart over by The Pony's game. "When we get to the car, you're going to read this over for me. Did you put Glade Air Freshener in the cart?"

"Nooo. Why would I do THAT?"

"I though you might have needed it for school."

"No. I don't need air freshener."

Yeah. The Pony needs air freshener like The Devil needs a Chicker at his register. That gal was like a reverse kleptomaniac.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

It's A Man's Man's Man's Man's World

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is mad as not-heaven, and she's probably going to continue taking it indefinitely, because she doesn't like confrontations.

This afternoon, after the weekly trip to The Devil's Playground, I stopped by the gas station chicken store to pick up a couple of the cheap scratch-off tickets to put in the #1 son's letter tomorrow. I need to get to the Dollar Tree and grab some more cheap cards, because the $5 scratchers will fit in them, but not in an envelope.

So there I was, standing at the register with one corn dog in my hand, for The Pony's lunch, and waiting behind a guy who had chicken, a couple of 20 oz drinks, a pack of cigarettes, and a carton of chocolate milk. All was right with the world. Just a scene from a gas station chicken store, two customers waiting to pay, another behind them at the chicken counter, and the clerk ringing up the items and asking if the customer wanted a bag.

In comes the GAS MAN. He's in capitals, because he was so important. In his own mind, that is. He came through the door, started down the middle aisle to come around and get in line, took a glance at the two of us waiting, and the chicken man picking up his order before queuing up...and stopped. GAS MAN whipped out his checkbook. Yes. That's right. His checkbook. To pay for gas. And stepped up to the short side of the counter next to the door. Let the record show that the short side of the counter is NOT where transactions are made.

GAS MAN scribbled across his check. It's not like he had a twenty in his hand, ready to lay on the counter for $20 of gas. He scribbled some more. Stood expectantly. The clerk bagged the dude's purchases ahead of me...

AND TURNED TO THE GAS MAN, ASKED IF HE NEEDED ANYTHING ELSE, THEN PROCEEDED TO RING HIM UP!

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was not a happy camper. She had a good mind to clear her throat loudly, but with that being so sore from the plague she picked up at work after Jewel snatched her water bottle by the neck, she did not think that was a good idea.

Any other self-respecting Hillmomba redneck hovering around the side counter to fork over his fuel payment would have said, "Oh, I think that lady was ahead of me." But not GAS MAN. He had achieved his goal. Which was to cut in line.

I was sorely tempted to shove the corn dog across the ticket counter and walk out, saying "I don't think I need this bad enough to wait past what should have been my turn." But I didn't think of it, and The Pony needed his corn dog, and #1 needed his tickets.

I wish I was a bit of a spitfire, like Maureen O'Hara in her heyday, the Quiet Man years, perhaps, so I could have raised a ruckus, stamped my foot, shook my flaming red hair, and shouted, in my no-nonsense Irish brogue: "Who d'ya hafta swing your balls at around here to get the service ya deserve?"

Let the record show that such a statement is not a direct quote from Maureen O'Hara.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Milk Of Human Kindness Has Curdled

No rest for the wicked, no ice water for not-heaven dwellers, and no parking place for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

As you might have heard, Mrs. HM has been on her near-death bed for 36 hours, her throat lined with light bulb shards dipped in alcohol and rolled in asbestos. Yet out of the kindness of her heart, she dragged herself to the shower shortly after noon, ran hot water over her neck until her her throat was as flamboyant as that of the magnificent frigatebird...


...and headed off to town to pick up some lunch for The Pony and maybe, if she felt up to it, some lottery tickets for herself, having not bought any for a couple of weeks, which really reveals that she is, indeed, under the weather.

So there she was, waiting at Dairy Queen for a chicken strip basket, her throat not even up to scamming a non-upside down free Blizzard for next time by ordering the new month's official Blizzard treat: cotton candy. Yeah. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom adores cotton candy. The picture looked so refreshing. Colorful candy pellets sprinkled on top of vanilla almost-ice-cream. No need to modify it with chocolate. An as-is Blizzard. But alas, the throat wasn't having it.

So Mrs. HM waited ten minutes for the guy in the car ahead of her to order one of each frozen treat, from sundae to Dilly Bar to Blizzard to shake to dipped cone. He must have had carseats full of quadruplets, because he was the only head I could see, yet he kept handing stuff back and grabbing more.

Finally, I got The Pony's lunch and headed to the stoplight before crossing over to the gas station chicken store. I flirted with the thought of chicken for lunch, but I'm nearly chickened-out, what with having it for dinner on Sunday at home, then dinner on Wednesday at the school banquet, then for lunch at school on Thursday and Friday. As I sat at the red light, I saw that my special parking place was available. A white four-door truck pulled in to the gas station chicken store.

"Please don't take my spot! Please don't take my spot!" And my pleas were answered. The white truck took the next parking space up the hill, leaving the one on the flat for me! The light was still red. A tan car pulled in.

"Please don't take my spot! Please don't take my spot!" And my pleas were again answered. The tan car went around the building to the area by the air hose. The light was still red. But then it turned green! Just as a copper SUV made a right turn and pulled in front of me as I went through the light, and turned onto the parking lot just ahead of me.

"Please don't take my spot! Please don't take my spot!" And my please were 3rd-time answered. An old station wagon was backing up from the gas pumps and into the way, so the copper SUV stopped to wait. I stopped to wait. The station wagon fiddled and faddled. Then almost backed into the copper SUV, which peeled its tires backwards and drove around the bay to pull into the gas pump that the station wagon had just abandoned. I waited for that station wagon to clear my bumper. And just as I was able to pull toward my spot...

THE PASSENGER OF THAT WHITE FOUR-DOOR TRUCK FLUNG OPEN HIS DOOR AND GOT OUT. SO DID THE DRIVER. AND THEY BOTH WALKED INTO THE GAS STATION CHICKEN STORE, LEAVING THE PASSENGER DOOR HANGING WIDE OPEN OVER HALFWAY ACROSS MY VERY SPECIAL PARKING SPOT!

Well. So much for fooling Mrs. Hillbilly Mom by answering her pleas, Even Steven!

I washed my hands of the whole attempt, wheeled T-Hoe around and up out of that parking lot, leaving the old cranky clerk to gawk from her smoking stance under the cedar visitor bulletin board.

I'd show them! No gas station chicken or lottery purchase for them! I headed home with only a four-piece chicken strip basket to show for my trouble.

Where I promptly whipped up a batch of super nachos for myself, featuring Tyson shredded chicken.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Streptococcus Jewel Is The New Typhoid Mary

Are you a believer in coincidences? I, myself, am not.

This morning at 4:10 a.m. I woke up with the worst sore throat of my life. The sorest throat that ever sored. I was the possessor of the sorest throat in the kingdom of Sore Throatdom. A throat so sore that the astronauts on the International Space Station could hear my plaintive cries from space, if I had been able to plaintively cry rather than croak that I believed I might be dying.

So sore! I could hardly swallow. The top of my throat felt like two cantaloupes were jammed in there. The kind with the net-looking dry hide. I feared that I might need a trip to the ER to have a tube jammed in there to get oxygen to my lungs. SO SORE! I tried to blow my nose, but could only make that choking/gagging sound because something is haywire with my ears and nose where they connect to my throat.

Farmer H, when I patted him awake, mumbled that maybe I should skip work and go to urgent care. WHAT? With no plans left on the desk, and this being an early out, and my pupils with only today and Monday to review for their big test that the state of Missouri requires? I think not.

I had to get out of bed. I could not breathe. Don't you worry about Farmer H. He rolled over and went right back to sleep. I tottered to the kitchen and tried to run some really hot water. Which takes about five minutes. All the while the sink filling with water because Farmer H clogged it rinsing a greasy oniony glass pan. I ground up some sea salt in the grinder my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel gave me, and had a tentative gargle. It was hard not to choke, but I got a bit of bubbling going in the back of my throat. I packed The Pony's lunch. I took a shower. I tried to catch a nap in the recliner, but every time I nearly dozed off, I was awakened by the sound of someone snorting and choking. That someone was me!

Farmer H shined a flashlight in my throat, and pronounced me perfectly healthy. "I don't have a stick to put down your throat, but it looks pink and not swollen to me." So sayeth the hickdoctor.

I went off to school with a mentholyptus cough drop trying to shrink my membranes, or at least deaden the pain. I had limited success with that treatment. Then I had to talk all through two classes for review.

At the lunch table, Jewel-the-water-bottle-molester let out a big cough. I turned to Tomato-Squirter and said, "I probably could have eaten twice as much of this leftover BBQ if my THROAT DIDN'T FEEL LIKE IT WAS COATED WITH BROKEN GLASS."

This evening, Farmer H again shined his flashlight, a giant longfellow like a police flashlight, with a bunch of LEDs like fly eyes on the bulb, down my throat. "Huh. It looks pretty red."

Right now the pain is not as bad, but I'm afraid to go to sleep and wake up with that same scenario.

You can't tell me that Jewel's HANDLING of my water bottle had nothing to do with this.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Nobody Knows The Kerfuffle I've Seen, Nobody Knows My Horror!

Yeah. I've been on a sort of theme lately. But each new incident rears its ugly head with such heart-stopping fervor that I cannot let it go. Like today, for instance, just before roll call was taken at the Semi-Weekly Meeting of the Newmentia Lunch Time Think Tank.

We were having leftover catered BBQ from the academic banquet last night. A call came out over the intercom a few minutes before first lunch, alerting the faculty that it would be available. Unlike the leftover Subway party sandwich yesterday, left over from ACT testing, which was announced halfway though first lunch, leaving us approximately 10 minutes to get up off our duffs, digest the food we had already begun consuming for lunch, hoof it over to the teacher workroom, elbow our cronies out of the way, slice through that behemoth, and wolf it down before the bell. Let the record show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom did not partake of any piece of the Subway.

So today we rushed to the teacher workroom as soon as the lunch bell rang at 10:53. Being the closest classroom to that paradise, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom arrived first. Or so she thought. But there were already two others strapping on the feedbag. Not that it mattered, because there was more than enough food to fill the feedbags of an Avatar-style Hometree full of Cheshire Cats.

I walked in and set down my bottle of water on the small table near the restrooms where sometimes copies are stacked, but where mostly people dump their keys and coats and junk while dashing in to use the facilities. The only thing on this fake-wood shiny brown tabletop today was cups. Two stacks of Styrofoam, maybe 20 ounces, as high as an elephant's eye. They did not take up much room. They were on the door end of the table, and my water bottle was past them, on the Kyocera end.

Others were filling their plates, so I milled around waiting my turn. Just as I had my hand between two buns, my own, in fact, a top and a bottom, to separate it for pulled pork, Jewel stormed in and demanded the spotlight like Auntie Mame.

"Why did I just do this? Whose water bottle do I have? I wasn't thinking, and picked it up like it was mine!" She was holding it not by the middle, the stomach area of a water bottle, but by the head, the business end, the part that goes in the drinker's mouth."

Of course it was mine.

"That's my water bottle. AND YOUR HAVE YOUR HAND ALL OVER THE PART I PUT IN MY MOUTH!"

"Well, I just grabbed it without thinking. Here. You can have it back."

Of course I had to walk over and get it, giving up my place in the food line.

"I can't believe you picked it up like that."

"Oh, c'mon Mrs. Hillbilly Mom! It was an accident." My cousin Tomato Squirter is not good at playing along, unless SHE is the one being affronted by Jewel's actions.

"I know it was an accident. But don't you watch Seinfeld?"

The chuckles of several plate-fillers led me to believe they did.

"How do I know what she's going to do next? She might go in my room on accident, and rub my keyboard all over her heinie!"

And with that mental image, we traipsed out to the lunch table to begin our discourse on the preponderance of lawsuits in these modern times.

Let the record show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom did not choose the topic.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My Compliments From The Staff



Yesterday between classes I noticed a gathering of custodial staff near my classroom door. One shift was coming on, one shift was going off, and one was apparently visiting from another building.

The one scheduled to clean my room that day turned to me and said, “I was telling them, I bet your house is spotless.”

“No. It’s actually the opposite. I have a lot of clutter. I’m not a hoarder or anything! But it’s not spotless.”

“Oh, but your room is always the cleanest. We hardly have to do anything.”

“Well, I have my kids straighten up a little at the end of the day. And I try to keep them busy. But they DO have their moments. Some days there’s a scattering of broken pencil pieces from a battle. And some days there’s mud from the tech school kids’ boots.”

“Your room is so easy. Yours and Mrs. Not-A-Cook. But she only has a few kids all day long.”

“Well, I have 100 every day, but mostly we keep things under control.”

“I can tell you whose is the worst!” Before I could stop her, she blurted it out. “Mr. DairyBar. He has all those boys!”

I did not mention that I had most of the same boys. Not that it matters. Even OldCus used to tell me that my room was the best. In fact, OldCus furthermore said that you can tell what a teacher is like by the way they keep their room.

Maybe that was just OldCus’s way of telling me that it looked like I never do anything in my classes.

Let the record show that last Cus never had anything good to say about my apparently immaculate room. Last Cus would have found an albino's eyelash on the white speckled industrial tile, and roped it off with crime scene tape, and then brought in the giant buffer to polish out the flaw after bleaching the area checking my microwave for cross-contamination.

Yeah. All that theme-playing from The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly in the foreshadowing of an ultimate showdown was not just your imagination. However, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has now been validated.

It wasn't me, it was Cus.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Who Knows What Evil Lurks In The Heart Of The Papernator? Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Knows.

The universe conspires!

Today I had an extra bit of time while my students were elsewhere standardized-testing. One of them came to me abruptly when I expected them all to be locked away without a key. She asked if she needed to bring her book to class. Well, no. Because I thought everyone was testing. Which she was, but thought she was almost done, and that three of my pupils would be showing up shortly. On this advice, I did not go make two sets of copies like I had planned. I even put my shoes back on, preparing for their imminent arrival. Which did not materialize.

I had a short bit of time left, so I looked up and down the hall. No pupils. I went and put my copies on the Good Kyocera, and the Naughty Kyocera. That one is like the opposite of Sour Patch Kids. First he's sweet, then he's sour. I've had a good run of luck with him, as long as I don't try to staple. So in went the originals on each machine. Both set to run a quantity of 80, two-sided.

With that brief moment to myself before once again being trapped until final bell, I stepped into the faculty women's restroom. As I was rising from the throne, I heard silence. Yeah. The churning of my double Kyocera harvest stopped. Just stopped. Silence. I quickly washed my hands and exited the throne-room into the workroom.

"Why do I hear that my copies have stopped?" I inquired to a figure hunched over Good Kyocera. I asked this because with a limited time window, I did not need anything going kaput on those Kyoceras. And also because there is a certain faction known for storming into the workroom and stopping print jobs all willy-nilly.

"It's only out of paper. It needs paper." So sayeth a member of our crew who knows all about Kyoceras, as she hovered over Drawer 3, dropped a swatch of paper in, and kicked it shut. Almost in a surly manner, methinks. WTF? I have no issue with the Papernator. Have always been on good terms.

"Oh. I was only in the bathroom. I could have put it in when I came out."

Then I saw that Naughty Kyocera had a paper jam. Fine time to be sour. I started CPR. One paper. Two paper. Three paper...

"There. It's going now." Said Papernator. And made a quick exit right in the middle of my expository soliloquy on how I have trouble finding all the papers that are allegedly jammed.

Sweet Gummi Mary! You'd think I had stepped out of the loo and exclaimed, "Fee fi fofenater, I demand the head of the Papernator...on a platter!" No. I was not impolite. Only inquiring as to how both machines had stopped while I was indisposed. I could not have been away from them for more than two minutes. Believe me, I have to be quick with only four minutes between classes for bodily functions, with an angry mob numbering the the 3s and 4s waiting their turn. And it's not like I printed from my room a stapley 12-pager, and did not deign to check on my print job for 50 minutes.

No sooner had the Papernator's heels hit the hallway than Good Kyocera choked. PAPERJAM! I was still dealing with Naughty Kyocera. I found one more wayward paper, and slammed about six paper doors. It looked like it was cleared, so I canceled the print job. Fool me once, shame on you, Naught Kyocera. Fool me twice, and I might be owing Newmentia for a new Kyocera after teaching you a lesson.

I moved on to Good Kyocera. I performed all the rituals foretold by the troubleshooter. Still not clear. I pulled open the paper drawer that Papernator had loaded for me. Hmpf. Ain't that a fine how-do-you-do? There was about a ream and a half of paper with the leading edge of the entire stack curved like upside-down sleigh runners on the Grinch's sled. Even Mrs. Hillbilly Mom knows that you can't load paper that way.

The Papernator knew.

Alas, I rue the day that we can no longer take a whiz without our print jobs being sabotaged.

Thank the Gummi Mary, according to my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel, I break the 200 barrier tomorrow in my final countdown.