Thursday, August 26, 2010

25 Cubic Feet & A Matching Handbag

25 Cubic Feet & A Matching Handbag
By Allison Adams 08-21-10 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 08-23-10

In 1988, I replaced my standard floor mop with a new, top-of-the-line, sponge mop.

It had a built-in contraption that efficiently squeezed all the excess water from the mop head, just by pressing a lever near the top of the mop handle – keeping my hands bone-dry.

It was nothing short of amazing.

I was so excited about my new sponge mop when I brought it home, I made a long-distance phone call to my mother to tell her all about it – in the middle of the day, when the long-distance rates were sky-high.

For nearly two weeks, I mopped my brains out. I would talk about the qualities of my most excellent sponge mop to anyone who would listen.

Then it hit me: A high-end sponge mop had ignited the euphoria I used to experience when I bought a cute, new pair of shoes.

I was emotionally invested in my cleaning supplies.

Eventually my relationship with my household appliances followed suit. It started with my refrigerator.

It was a side-by-side model - very popular. It had a handy ice and water dispenser built-in to the front of the freezer door - very convenient.

Practically speaking – it kept cold things cold, and frozen things frozen.

But with every turn of my small world I became increasingly disenchanted with everything beyond its double-doors.

More often than not the ice dispenser spat out one solitary crescent shaped piece of ice before it jammed, causing the person whose glass has been inadequately iced to finish the task manually.

The water dispenser worked well, but because it didn’t dispense Gatorade or Diet Coke, it was rarely used. At one point it was deemed “completely worthless” by my children when they tried unsuccessfully to use the built-in dispenser to fill water balloons.

Inside the shelves were deeeeep and naaaaarrow. Heaven help us when things inadvertently got pushed to the back of a shelf or drawer. You needed to be on your tippy-toes to see what was on the top shelf and on your hands and knees to explore what lived inside the crispers at the bottom – resulting in a real workout just looking for the mayonnaise, or a mango.
All too often a search and rescue party had to remove every item in the joint in order to extract Monday’s meatloaf, or Friday’s fettuccini. Sometimes what started out as a hunt for humus ended up revealing a perfectly good science project – or two.

And I can’t even discuss what I had to do in order to place a frozen pizza in the skinny freezer.

Eventually my feelings for my refrigerator soured to the point that I loathed its existence.

Ungrateful for what I had, I began making fairly regular trips to various appliance showrooms to interview new refrigerator candidates.

After several weeks of careful shopping I located a well-equipped floor model priced at fair market value.

The freezer lived at the bottom. The refrigerator lived on the top. No finicky ice dispenser. No fancy water balloon filler.

And when I opened the refrigerator door, there at eye-level was wide, open shelving.

I wept at the space.

In an especially cruel move, I snapped a picture of it, and slapped the photograph on the door of my sorry, side-by-side with a refrigerator magnet.

For several more weeks I resorted to visiting the Chosen One at the appliance showroom. I’d open its doors, run my fingers along the edge of the shelves, peek in the little butter compartment, slide out the crisper drawer, and deeply inhale that intoxicating new appliance plastic aroma like it was a breath of fresh, springtime air.

High on poly fluorocarbon, I would eventually have to bid farewell to the floor model and drive home to Refrigerator Reality.

Eventually I was able to purchase the refrigerator of my dreams.

Our rejected side-by-side model was wheeled into the garage to be used for Gatorade, Diet Coke, and science project storage. In its place in the kitchen now stands a model with what I believe is the epitome of useful refrigerated space, and its gateway is as big as a barn door.

New shoes are nice – but for me, this is nirvana. Of course, if I could get a matching handbag …

Yeah, I know. I need a little therapy.

The Big Buy

The Big Buy
By Allison Adams / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 07-26-10

“Welcome to Buy Big! Do you have your Preferred Customer Perks card?”

“My what?”

“Your Preferred Customer Perks card.”

“No, but I just want to buy this one thi…”

“Yes, I see, but I need to scan your Preferred Customer Perks card first.”

“Ummm. Well, uhhhh … let me look in my wallet … hang on … Oh! Here it is!”

“Let me see that.”

“Here, it’s my Super Shopper card.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I can’t accept that.”

“Okay … uhhhh … I’m sure it’s right here – oh! Here’s my Swipe-n-Save card! I’ve had that card for 14 years!”

“That’s a long time!”

“Yes, it is!”

“Unfortunately, you can’t use a Swipe-n-Save card here at Buy Big.”

“Well … wait a minute. Lemme keep digging … Oh! Here we go!”

“What’s that?”

“It’s my V.I.C. card!”

“I’m sorry ma’am, but I’m not familiar with the VIC card.”

“V.I.C. - Very Important Customer!”

“I’m afraid we cannot accept that card. Our customers aren’t very important; they are Preferred. I need to scan your Preferred Customer Perks card.”

“How about this? It’s my Bonus Bucks card!”

“Impressive! However, we don’t give our customers any bonuses.”

“What about bucks?”

“No, no bucks either. We do, however, award points based on your purchases!”

“Oh, really? Do you get rewards for your points?”

“I’m afraid not.”

“Wouldn’t that make them pointless?”

“Have you ever shopped with Buy Big before?”

“Yes, when you were called Cash-n-Carry.”

“That explains it! When we were called Cash-n-Carry, we didn’t issue a card! You just paid for your purchases without a card.”

“Okay – NOW you’re talkin’! That’s exactly what I’d like to do! I just want to give you some cash, and then carry this one thi … “

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but I’m afraid that’s not possible. At Buy Big, we offer big savings to our preferred customers, using their Preferred Customer Perks card!”

“Look, I’m in a little bit of a hurry. I just wanna buy this one thi… “

“Why don’t you take just a moment to fill out this Preferred Customer Perks card application form?”

“I have to fill out a form just to buy this one thi… ?”

“It’s a very short form. We just need your name, address, home phone number, cell phone number, e-mail address, and your signature.”

“I thought this was the Express Lane … “

“And on the back here, we need you to come up with a series of PICs.”

“Wha …?”

“PICs – Personal Identification Codes. If you ever forget your Preferred Customer Perks card, we’ll allow you to make a purchase without a penalty by entering one of your PICs. You need to fill in a 6-digit Access Code, a 7-digit Password using letters, numbers, and at least one symbol, and also a case-sensitive User ID.”

“I’ll never remember those.”

“No problem! See? Right here there’s a place for you to write down 3 Shopper Secrets! Just provide us with your mother’s maiden name, the name of the color directly opposite of your favorite color on the color wheel, and the nickname of your current pet.”

“Wha …?”

“If you go to checkout, and you don’t have your Preferred Customer Perks card with you, and you can’t recall any of your Personal Identification Codes, we’ll regenerate your codes for you when you correctly provide the answer to one of your Shopper Secrets!”


“Yes, ma’am! That’s a friendly service we provide to our Preferred Customers, at no extra charge!”

“This is ridiculous! I just wanna buy one thi …”


“Wait! Okay, I’ll fill out the form!”


“Here. Here you go. Now can I please just pay for this one thi …”

“Sign here, please.”

“Okay. There you go. Now … ?”

“I need your thumbprint in this little square.”

“Oh for heaven’s sake.”

“I’ll waive the requirement to have this certified by a Notary Public, since you seem to be in such a hurry.”

“Good grief.”

“Okay – now I can check you out!”


“Do you have any coupons?”

Lipstick & Muzak

Lipstick & Muzak

By Allison Adams 07-10-10 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 07-11-10

Dear IRS,

I’ve been a timely, loyal American income taxpayer for the past 36 years.

Several weeks ago I had the occasion to visit one of your satellite offices near my hometown, the name of which I prefer not to reveal at this time.

I had to go there, to that satellite office, to get a certified copy of a document – Form Number Something Or Other. That’s all. I just needed one certified copy of one little thing.

I had to go there because my husband said he was too busy to go. He’s never too busy to play a round of golf though. I’m just sayin’.

I don’t mind telling you that I was a tiny bit nervous about going – not because I am now, or have ever been involved in any fiscal wrongdoing, but because the mere mention of your agency makes most folks a feel a little jittery - even nauseous.

Forgive my candor, but I think you might have an image problem.

Some people – not me – but some people say unflattering things about you when they think you’re not looking. Not that you’re ever not looking.

I’m writing to tell you that I think I can help with that – your possible image problem, that is.

If the satellite office I visited near my hometown is an accurate representation of your other offices, then I think a little makeover is warranted.

Lets start with the expressionless armed guard posted just outside the door. He did not make me feel welcome.

Then there’s the office décor – if you can call it that. Everything is gray. Gray everything is depressing.

So you see, your visitors are first made to feel uneasy by the armed guard, and then depressed by the drab color-scheme. Barely in the door and your visitors are already feeling nervous, and wondering if life is really worth living.

I’m sure that’s not the atmosphere you’re going for.

Gray is a good color when it’s used as a background for other colors, such as fuchsia, or indigo, or aubergine, or even basic navy blue. You can introduce pops of color by adding some simple accessories, like candles, or throw pillows.

Let’s talk about the furniture arrangement in the waiting area. It looked as if all the furniture was under arrest. You know – everything was lined up against the wall.

One exception would be the chairs, which were lined up in rows, facing in the same direction. Everyone sitting in them stared at the same bare wall. This would have been a great opportunity to create a cozy conversation area for your guests by simply rearranging those chairs, don’t you agree?

About that bare wall, and the other bare walls. It would have been nice to see something other than a sign threatening my imprisonment if I used my cellular phone, or brandished my firearm while I was on the premises.

I’m not suggesting that you need to hang museum quality art. A simple travel poster or two would have warmed up the place.

How about offering some outdated magazines for people to read, for heaven’s sake?

Think about adding a lamp. Proper lighting can really help set the right mood!

And if you think you’re providing any privacy by placing your IRS agents at their desks behind 5-foot tall cubicle walls, you’re sadly mistaken. The rest of us patiently waiting our turn could hear every single word exchanged between IRS agent and loyal American taxpayer Now Being Served.

And also the whimpering.

You really should consider making available a box of government issued Kleenex (covered with a hand-crocheted cozy) so those poor, sobbing, taxpayers could grab a couple on their way out the door.

Anyway, I think if you made those few changes in the office décor – you know, a little “lipstick” – and perhaps if you hired a security guard with a personality, it would make the waiting more bearable for your customers, and in turn do wonders for your image.

Well, maybe not wonders. But it would certainly be a step in the right direction.

Also, a little Muzak might help muffle the blubbering.

I’m just sayin’.

Yours truly,

Yours Truly.