So James and I are looking to buy a house in the next few months; sell Deb’s house, buy a house for ourselves. Today we met with our real estate agent, Jenniffer, who is going to help us with both of those. We showed up right on time; I made sure to wear a professional-looking dress and did my makeup, to try to look respectable. James showed up jean shorts and a t-shirt, to show what sort of person he is.
Our real estate agent is a mother of three, with a nice haircut. She was wearing a lovely sleeveless blouse with the ruffled collar. The first thing she did was sit down with us in the conference room and explain what exactly a commission is for, how it gets split up, and what exactly she is legally able to do. We explained that we had divvied up the responsibilities: since selling the house ties in so much with the will, James is the person to talk to about selling the house. Since I have no particular connection to the will beyond being married to James, I was in charge of buying the new house, just to take some of the pressure off of James.
So James and Jenniffer talked about the legal deadlines about selling the house and how it would go on the market and all that. Then it was time to talk about the house we are going to buy.
“First of all,” she said, “Why Apex?”
It was because of our work locations. Apex is halfway between Durham and Fuquay-Varina, and along the 55 corridor. Really, anywhere on the 55 corridor is good.
“We’re looking for a starter house,” I said.
Jenniffer looked immensely relieved. “Especially with you two starting a family — people always tell me that they’re going to live in this house forever, but you would be surprised how much your needs change in just a few years.”
“We’re planning on moving North in the next few years or so. My family lives in Virginia and I want to live closer to them.”
“What part of Virginia?”
“Northern Virginia,” I said.
“That’s where we met,” said James.
She was amazed. “I lived in Reston,” she said.
“He used to live in Alexandria,” I said. “I grew up in Loudoun and lived in Fairfax for a while.”
Jenniffer thought for a moment. “North Carolina is a much better market,” she said. “It’s more slow-growing and much more affordable.”
“We’ll be moving to the Richmond area, probably,” I said.
“That’s getting to be a pretty expensive area,” said Jenniffer.
“Well, Roanoke or Winchester or something. As long as we’re closer to my family.”
Jenniffer nodded in understanding. Then she said, “What sort of kitchen cabinets do you like?”
“Oh, dark wood cabinets for sure,” I said. “And then on medium-dark hardwood floors.”
“So not matching the floors?”
“Oh definitely not.”
“What about you?”
“I’m the same,” James shrugged.
“Master bedroom upstairs or downstairs?”
We had never really thought about it. We didn’t have a strong preference, but a second-floor master bedroom made more sense.
“Where should the laundry room be?”
We explained that we wanted a second-floor laundry room but that it wasn’t a deal-breaker.
“In the 90s, it was a trend to put the laundry room on the second floor, right next to the garage. I can tell you that I hate it. You walk in from your garage and you’re immediately surrounded by all the laundry from three kids and a husband.”
We agreed that a second-floor laundry was very sensible.
She pointed out that I had said something about a ranch-style house, James seemed to want more of a cookie-cutter house.
I said that since I had grown up in DC, I had grown up surrounded by 50s-style ranch houses that were just adorable, which was the only reason I had said that. I also explained that I hadn’t grown up very rich. We were comfortable, but our houses had always been small and that was what I was used to. James, I explained, had grown up the only child of a corporate executive, and so had grown up in larger houses.
“I don’t want a cookie-cutter house,” said James. “I want a house with fewer, larger rooms, rather than lots of smaller rooms. I want a sensible layout.”
“We want the formal area and the family area to be separated,” I said.
“So you don’t want an open floor plan,” said Jenniffer, looking relieved. “People don’t realize how noisy those houses are.”
“Oh, yes,” I said. “I want us to be able to leave our mess in the family room but still be comfortable having people over anytime.”
“Separate entertaining spaces,” said Jenniffer.
“Exactly,” said James.
She mentioned that since we were planning on moving (“in about 5 or 7 years” said James), she would try to show us houses that were likely to sell again in a few years.
We talked about working with contractors, to sell Deb’s house and possibly do work on our future house. I mentioned that since I have experience working with contractors at Home Depot, I felt comfortable around them. “Not as clients, but I’ve definitely worked with them,” I said.
Jenniffer shook her head. “This is how it starts,” she said. “You do realize she’s a future real estate agent, don’t you?” she asked James.
The next step was to drive to Deb’s house and take a look. She took pictures and commented on different things that needed to be done to stage the house. The table in the breakfast nook was too dated. Get rid of the green sofa and green rug; replace it with the nice blue rug under the dining room table, and the blue sofa in the sunroom. Get rid of all the knick-knacks and the valuables; store them, sell them, whatever. “Those are easy to walk off with,” she told us.
I showed her around the kitchen. I indicated the corner of the counter, which has an extra shelf built in. “She added that herself,” I said. “It was a more sensible use of space.”
“That is good,” she said. She snapped pictures of the “breadbox” as she called it, and pictures of the stainless-steel appliances. “This fridge is LG, but everything else is GE,” she said. “Do you want to keep it?”
“Honestly, that would probably depend on the house we buy, if we need it and if it would fit.”
“It would be hard to move without damaging the floor and the walls,” she said. “It might be easier to just convey it.”
Fortunately I had done prior research and understood what she meant by “convey”: sell the appliances as part of the house.
I showed her the master bedroom.
“She made the blinds herself,” I said. “And the headboard too, I think.”
“It’s red,” said Jenniffer.
Well I couldn’t argue with that. It was red. Bright red blinds, bright red area rugs, bright red chair, bright red accent wall, bright red headboard, bright red quilt.
“We’re going to need to get rid of that.”
“I can paint it.”
“Yes, paint it the same gold as the rest of the room. Why didn’t she keep that gold? We’ll have to get rid of all the red. Replace it with neutrals. Red doesn’t photograph well. No one buys red.”
“I probably have neutral bedstuff at home,” I said. “A ton of throw pillows at least.”
“I have an inventory of age-appropriate staging materials,” she said. “But if you can paint it…and we’ll have to get rid of the curtains…these are lovely curtains, you said she made them herself? That’s amazing. But we’ll have to take them down. People will be able to see in, but we can’t have red. This is amazing stitchwork, I can’t believe she made them herself.”
“She made the headboard too,” said James, who had just come from picking up the mail from the next-door neighbor.
“We’ll have to take that down,” she said.
“Okay,” said James, who had also always hated that headboard.
So that was our homework: paint away the red and pack away the knick-knacks (including those “horrifying” headless children statues that Deb liked to have around the house)
I’m not joking about how creepy those headless children are. Deb thought they were cute. No one — no one — could convince her otherwise.
Jenniffer was amazed at everything Deb could do and had done. Deb had traveled to Africa and lived in Taiwan. She was an amazing seamstress and had tastefully appointed her house (except for that red). The built-ins she had designed and had installed were amazing. The outside needed to be weeded and pressure-washed and the red needed to go away, but other than that, the house looked amazing.
She left, and James and I started packing away all the various Hummels and creepy nutcrackers. We went out for pizza and then went home. James felt tired. I felt sad. We always do, after taking care of Deb’s house.
One of the most unique aspects of humanity is our ability to talk. Almost all lifeforms above the ocean are capable of making some sort of sound, but humanity’s sounds are more complex, and are able to broach a much wider variety of topics. Cornelius, for instance, is only able to communicate two things:
1) I want food
2) You are making me into food
When James picks up Cornelius’ two front legs and makes him dance, Cornelius feels as if he is a larger predator who is merely playing with him before being eaten. So as soon as James drops Cornelius’ legs, Cornelius runs away. James, for all his humanity, cannot communicate to Cornelius that he’s playing for the simple act of playing.
And yet in the wild, cats don’t really meow past kittenhood. Yet Cornelius meows to us all the time, to say that he’s hungry, or to say that he’s annoyed, or to say that he’s hungry, or to say that he’s pleased that we’ve woken up so that we can feed him, or to say that he’s pleased that we’re home, because humans tend to feed Cornelius as soon as they come home. Feed him. He’s adorable. Feed the adorable kitty.
Part of the reason humans are able to get across more complex ideas than “food now” is because our breathing and our swallowing tubes are connected. A simple flap covers our breathing tubes while we swallow. But humanity developed this eons ago. We slowly develop, from an early age, the instinct to hold our breath while we chew and swallow, so as to protect our basic breathing.
Except me, apparently. In February 2015 Lacey and I went to celebrate our birthday at E Street Cinema’s Oscar Shorts marathon. As we headed out of town, we started making fun of President Obama. Lacey did a fantastic imitation of Obama’s stuttering, as I questioned his choice of flag-themed boxer shorts. She said something that make me laugh right as I swallowed some water, and then I nearly choked to death, and threw up twice all over my winter coat, and Lacey drove me straight to the hospital because I was going to die right there on our 28th birthday.
As far as I’m aware that didn’t happen, although who knows? A month later James proposed and then a little after that I got a full-time job with a company I love working for.
This morning I was watching Gravity Falls and drinking my usual morning coffee. I’m on the episode The Love God, which is not the strongest episode but certainly has a really good opening. Mabel discovers that Wendy’s ex-boyfriend, Robbie, is not getting over the break-up very well, so she takes it upon herself to find him a new girlfriend. She visits his house and meets his parents, the world’s most cheerful funeral directors.
They ask Mabel to bring Robbie his lunch, a plate of spaghetti that uses the meatballs and the sauce to make a smiley face.
“Lady, I like your style,” says Mabel. Then she goes upstairs.
“You know who would look good in a sweater like that?” asks Mrs. Valentino after Mabel leaves. “Mrs. Grabbelson’s remains!”
Mr. Valentino laughs. “Oh, absolutely!”
We are then treated to a montage of Robbie growing up.
At that last picture, the overdramatic angst of 15-year-old Robbie combined with the random idea that what if Robbie and Mabel got married caused me to laugh right as I was taking a sip of coffee, and some water started going down the wrong pipe and, in a desperate attempt to not die, I threw up all over the carpet in our half-bath (and in the sink, but throwing up on the carpet sounds more dramatic and I will always go with the more dramatic-sounding option in the narrative of my life).
Obviously I did not die, as far as I’m aware, but I’m kind of left feeling embarrassed. That’s twice in 18 months where I’ve nearly choked to death. Liquid keeps going down the wrong pipe. A basic human function is the ability to put liquid down one pipe and air down the other, and yet somehow I keep failing.
I got a hair cut, can you tell?
(no, no you cannot)
I made an appointment for today with my usual hair stylist. I always get my hair dyed. My roots are really bad – more than an inch long at this point. And I said I wanted an appointment with Larissa, the usual thing. They said, “You’re going to want your hair cut, right?”
“Yes,” I said, because this was a hair cutting place after all. But it was just the usual thing. I said that. I’m 90% certain that I said that I wanted my hair dyed as well. But they emphasized the hair cut.
I only got a hair cut. Nowhere in the appointment did it say anything about getting my hair dyed. My hair looks like shit. I paid $60 to get my hair to look exactly as shit as it did before.
“Where is your part?” asked this woman who has been cutting my hair every other month for the past two years. “Is it in the middle?”
“No,” I said. “It’s on the left.”
As I have said every two months for the last two years.
“How often do you wash your hair?” asked the woman who has been taking care of my hair for two years.
“I never wash my hair,” I said.
“No,” I said. “I condition my hair.”
“But when do you wash your hair?”
“Never,” I said. “Curly hair is too dry and fine, it doesn’t need shampoo.”
“What do you do about your scalp?”
“I scratch it thoroughly every morning.”
She yanked my wet hair as straight as it would go, and then cut angles into it. I’m sure it would look very nice if my hair kept the same shape when it was dry. It frames the face. But it would not keep the same shape. All it would do was shorten my front curls even more.
She put some sort of weird gel in my hair. “It puts your curls into a sort of shell,” she said. “It’s supposed to reduce the frizz. It’s anti-humidity.”
“What do you think?”
“They’re very defined,” I said.
“Your curls are naturally very beautiful,” she said.
I rinsed it out as soon as I got home. I have fluffy, natural ringlets. Not crispy waves.
She called me as I was driving home. “Next time you come in, I need you to straighten your hair,” she said.
Next time I see her is the end of July. She doesn’t have any time available before then.
Oh man oh man oh man — it’s my favorite thing to do! Register for classes!
Now fortunately Wake Tech has a guide for what order to take what classes. So I guess I’ll take ARC 111 and DES 112? I don’t know what those are. Introductory courses for architecture and creative design, I think. So that’s set, I guess.
So here are my options:
A) ARC 111: Introduction to Architecture Technology
Classroom MW 9:30-9:55AM
Lab MWF 10:00-11:50AM
B) ARC 111: Introduction to Architecture Technology
Classroom MW 1:00-1:25PM
Lab MW 1:30-3:20, F 1:00-3:10
C) ARC 111: Introduction to Architecture Technology
Classroom MW 3:30-3:55PM
Lab MW 4:00-5:50, F 3:30-5:30
D) ARC 111: Introduction to Architecture Technology
Classroom TR 6:00-6:25PM
Lab TR 6:30-9:20PM
DES 112: Building/Construction Systems
Classroom F 8:25-9:55AM
Now obviously I’m taking the one Design course being offered. And the good news is, it’s a hybrid course! I’m trying to keep my availability as open as possible for work, so this is good. Just some Friday mornings I can’t work, I’ll just ask off ahead of time as a partial day off. Or switch with the closer. Or something. And honestly the last ARC option, which meets at night two days a week, instead of during the day three days a week, seems like the best option for me. Home Depot seems to like having me open. And 9:20 isn’t too late of a night! Some night classes at Mason, I wouldn’t leave until 11:00!
So that’s it then. I just have to submit my schedule. And then, starting in mid August, Tuesday and Thursday nights, and some Friday mornings, I’ll be a student again.
I’m so excited!
So it turns out that you can’t take DES 112 without taking ARC 111 and ARC 114! Which have to be taken at the same time! Aheheheh.
A) ARC 114: Architectural CAD
Classroom MWF 10:00-10:17AM
Lab MWF 10:18-11:10AM
LabA MWF 11:15-12:05
B) ARC 114: Architectural CAD
Classroom MWF 1:00-1:17PM
C) ARC 114: Architectural CAD
Classrom TR 1:00-1:25PM
Lab TR 1:30-2:55PM
LabA TR 3:00-4:25
D) ARC 114: Architectural CAD
Classroom MW 6:00-6:25PM
Lab MW 6:30-7:55
LabA MW 8:00-9:25
I’m not entirely sure what’s up with the two labs. They don’t charge extra for Lab A. It just is. You sign up for one and immediately get registered in the other, at least according to the instructions.
So how do I minimize the impact on my availability? Here are the typical shifts on any given day at Home Depot Special Services:
Now I currently work a lot of opening shifts, for whatever reason. Maybe my coffee habit makes me the right amount of perky first thing in the morning. Maybe I do a good job getting the department ready. Maybe management appreciates me blasting electronic dance music at 6:15 in the morning. Maybe Kristy copies and pastes the schedule whenever possible. Who knows. For whatever reason, I open a lot.
So, like, do I make myself available as much as possible for opening shifts? Plan around that? Take ARC 111 D and ARC 114 D, and just plan on taking four nights of night classes every week? Or do I plan on taking Tuesdays and Thursdays off every week, and only Tuesdays and Thursdays off every week, and do two full days of classes? Come what may the other five days?
Maybe I should consult management.
Yesterday at work was very tiring, mentally and physically, so last night I mostly laid in bed and vegged and this morning I did the same thing. At least now I’ve had some coffee and cleaned the kitchen/dining room, which is what I wanted to get done last night. Tonight, I need to go shopping:
-pet food shopping (both kitty and lizard need food)
-Birthday present shopping
Technically there’s nothing stopping me from leaving now. Eh. I’ll leave after I finish this entry. And tonight, I’ll do my nails. Oh, I need to make phone calls. Eh. After I finish this entry.
Lacey texted me this morning asking for advice: whether she should travel this weekend or stay at home and eat s’mores with Katie. She wanted me to decide, but mostly I just asked her questions to get her to think more about each consideration. I think she decided to travel.
Anyway, part of the consideration had to do with Lacey’s new boyfriend. He’s a guy we knew in high school. If they got married, the official wedding announcement would probably say that they “reconnected after high school.” I’m a bit jealous of stuff like that, because when people ask, well, I have to say that James and I met online. Which is not a very exciting story.
I started thinking about “how we met stories” two weekends ago, during the Deb Meyers Memorial Tour. At every single memorial, someone mentioned her relationship with her husband, Steve, and how special it was. I’m not saying that’s weird, bad, or unusual. In fact, it’s pretty typical and should be celebrated. I’m just saying that I remember it distinctly.
Deb was widowed for five years almost exactly before she died. People inevitably asked her why she didn’t bother looking for someone new. She told one of her friends that “men were looking for a nurse and a purse.”
“But,” said this friend, wearing a Jamaica visor and Penguin socks,* casting her eyes around the room, “I think that her relationship with her husband was so special that she didn’t want a new man. She had had Steve for over 30 years.”
I’ve said several times that I stood with Deb over Steve’s body and asked her how they met. But one thing that surprised me at the last stop on the Deb Meyers Memorial Tour was that afterwards, the other Mrs. Meyers, Mrs. Meyers Version 1.0,^ stopped James and I and told us her side of how Deb and Steve met.
They were part of a group of college kids that “ran around together” during Sophomore and Junior year of college at Ball State University. They met at a party and started “going together.” But the summer after Junior year, Debbie was going to study abroad in England. Steven talked with her about it. Deb interpreted whatever he said as him dumping her, so she drove the two hours from her parents’ house to his to give him back all the presents he had ever given her.
From even that little bit, we (or just I?) learned that the catalyst for Steve “dumping” Deb Junior year was her going to England. The rest of the story I knew. But the story continued, a year after graduation.
Steve came to his mother, excited. “Debbie invited me to a party! She wants to see me again!”
I knew from conversations with Deb that she only invited him to her Christmas/New Years party because a friend talked her into it. It had been long enough, the friend argued. He was part of the group. It wouldn’t be weird anymore. Steve and his mother apparently didn’t know that. Neither James nor I felt like telling her now.
“They started going together in February, and they got engaged in April,” finished Mrs. Meyers, smiling.
“That’s interesting,” said James. “Both of our parents got married after a short time dating.”
“I think they just knew,” said Mrs. Meyers.
“Well they did date for two years in college,” I said.
“Yeah, but your parents got married after what — four months?” James said. “And then mine got engaged after two months. But we dated for six years before we got married.”
“Five years. But my parents knew each other for a year or so before they started dating. And like I said, your parents dated for two years in college.”
“They just knew,” Mrs. Meyers insisted.
But I think it’s interested that the Ballad of Steve and Deb isn’t about how they met. It’s about how they got back together again. Just like the interesting part of James and my relationship isn’t how we met, it’s how we stayed together through job loss, career change, and long-distance dating. And so comparing us to Lacey’s latest relationship is irrelevant. Irrelephant.
New adventures will be made.
*Presents from Deb, from various travels and Christmases
^James’ paternal grandmother. Sometimes my sarcastic storytelling gets in the way of clarity. Listen, James’s paternal grandmother is Mrs. Meyers 1.0. Deb was 2.0. I am 3.0. Get it?
Last night two new folks were scheduled to close Customer Service and Paint, respectively, and as someone with experience in both, I was scheduled to train them both, at the same time. This is a fantastic plan that had no way of backfiring whatsoever. As I stood in the blinds aisle cutting vinyl blinds because all the Flooring folks were at lunch, with no one but a cashier in Customer Service, and Bernard, the new Paint guy, standing next to me asking how to make paint samples, I reveled in how good of a plan this was.
Just take a moment to unload that previous sentence, because there’s a lot of information in there, my goodness.
I actually spent most of the evening in Paint. For the first half of my shift, the Customer Service supervisor, Lashawnia, was working, so I could be away from the Customer Service desk. Then after that, there was just the cashier behind the desk, and I was there to answer any questions or to cover difficult cases. Because the new guy in Customer Service didn’t show up. So there was no one to train.
Not that Paint was much better.
When it came to the actual Paint-specific aspects of the work, Bernard did okay. It was his second day in Paint, so he had a lot of product-specific questions. He didn’t know how to build an order, and that’s okay, because there’s a lot to learn. He seemed to pick up on it and was doing pretty well building those orders by the end of the night. I told him several times that it was okay to ask questions and not know, because there’s a lot to know. If anyone from Home Depot showed up to chat, I made sure to introduce Bernard and tell them that he was doing a good job, because new folks need to be told that.
When I came back from lunch, I needed to take over Customer Service. So I walked the Paint aisles with Bernard. I gave him a basic tour of the four aisles, told him which products were the ones customers asked about the most, and which bays needed the most work. He said he knew about front-facing (pulling merchandise to the front of the shelf and lining it up to make it look good). The Paint department head, TJ, and told me specifically to make sure he understood this concept, because a lot of the new Paint department folks don’t do front-facing. So I did my best to make it sound like most of what we do is front-facing.
“So if something is in the wrong place, do I just put it in a cart and then put it away later?”
“I usually just walk it back to its correct spot,” I said. “But if putting it in a cart and putting it away later is what you need to do, then go for it. That’s a good idea.
“This should take you the rest of the night,” I told him around 7:30. “Heck, most of the time I don’t even finish front-facing. So just pull everything to the front, keep an eye out for customers, and every once in a while check on your returns.”
At 8:30, when I was in the middle of helping a customer find his order, Bernard walked up to me.
“I finished front-facing, what do I do now?”
I told him to hold on. I finished with the customers (their order was actually at the other Durham Home Depot). Then I went and walked the aisles with him.
He hadn’t finished front-facing. In fact, I’m not even sure he had done any work at all. Boxes of merchandise were still sitting in the back of the shelves, waiting to be pulled forward. There were tubes of caulk and bottles of glue leaning over. I found gloves and spackling sitting on the wrong shelves. Cans of paint were sitting on the floor. Boxes of sandpaper were sticking out into the aisles. Brushes were hanging backwards.
But, you know what? He’s new. He doesn’t know how to tell if a shelf looks good or not.
So I stood there with him and pulled some boxes of caulk forward, while explaining what I was doing. I pushed some sandpaper back. I combined two boxes of glue into one and put the now-empty box into the cart of empty cardboard boxes. I walked the spackling back to the spackling bay, and then showed him the returns boxes at Customer Service. So I showed him, physically, what to look for, and how to fix it.
I didn’t see him again for another hour. I don’t know what he was doing for that hour, but it wasn’t cleaning the aisles, that’s for sure. Next time I saw him was after I paged for him overhead to come make some paint for some customers.
“What do I do now?” he asked him when he finished with them.
I decided to show him how to fill the dispensers. He said that he had worked in a hat-printing shop for a while, so he knew how to do that. And he did, in fact, know how to work that aspect of the job. He did a fine job there. I made sure to emphasize to him several times only fill the containers if you can see four paddles and don’t leave quarts of colorant partially empty, use the whole thing.
I texted James, since he’s an assistant manager in a retail environment. I told him that I had first explained what to do, then showed Bernard what to do, and he still hadn’t done it. I was honestly flabbergasted about what to do. On the one hand, I didn’t want to be the bad guy, bitching at him about how messy everything was. On the other hand, everything was messy and I didn’t want to do everything myself. I’ve been take advantage of before. What do I say? How do I say it?
James told me that I had done everything correctly and that the only thing left to do was complain to his supervisor. Guh.
Bernard left at 10:00, which was when his shift was over. So I spent the rest of my shift cleaning the aisles. I worked mostly with the sandpapers, glues, and the applicators, pulling as much stuff forward as I could. I left the store knowing that everything still looked like crap, but I had only had an hour to work on it, and like I told Bernard, front-facing is a never-ending task.
At about 10:30 the cart o’ cardboard boxes was so full it was starting to topple, so I decided to walk it to the back, even though that’s usually something I do at about 10:50. On my way there I encountered Kelly, the department head of Electrical. When I started at Durham Home Depot, she was the head of Paint, and we’ve struck up a friendly relationship. After all, she’s Kelly M and I’m Kelsey M.
I told Kelly about my struggles with getting Bernard to clean the shelves and how frustrated I felt about it. She said that getting Paint workers to do work on the shelves was a never-ending struggle. The other new guy, Chris, always just hung out at the Paint Desk. She would regularly set him to some task, only for him to do the bare minimum amount of work and then go back to the desk.
I told her that last time I worked with Chris, it was an opening shift and I had had to show him how to do the Safety Checklist (which is fine, it’s easy to forget to tell new people about the Safety Checklist, so it was good that I showed him). Chris had done the checklist then went back to the desk. So walked up to him and told him that when I opened, I usually worked on Aisle 3 (so I could keep an eye on the Paint Desk) or on Aisle 5 (which always needs work). Chris had said, “Yeah, Aisle 5 is always a mess,” then went back to his phone.
“Why didn’t you tell him to put his phone away and get to work?” Kelly asked.
“We’re both hourly associates,” I said. “We’re equals.”
Kelly shook her head. “I think of you as a Lead Associate,” she said. “You can tell people what to do.”
I honestly had no idea what to say to that.
I remember last summer, I spent an hour or so doing nothing but cleaning the glue shelves. I organized and front-faced all of the shelves, pulled more glue down from the overhead, etc. Afterwards I gathered up all the cardboard and walked it to the cardboard cart over by the desk, only to look at the two associates there and realizing that they had just had a rush of customers.
“I’m so sorry, if I had realized you had a rush I would have helped,” I said.
One of the full-timers, Don, told me that it was okay. “You were doing work,” he said. “We handled it alright. That’s what we like about you, you’re one of the part-timers who actually does things.”
At the time all I could think about was how I hadn’t checked on the desk to see if there were customers. But now, remembering my frustration with Chris and Bernard, I understand where he was coming from.
So as few of you know (actually, probably none of you) I am a recovering television addict. I was hoping there was a more formal phrase, like “teleholic” or something, but alas, according to Wikipedia, no. It’s just Television Addiction.
Anyway, my poison in my teleholic days was crime shows. If they investigated murders, I was All About It. CSI (but only the Las Vegas one), Law & Order, Without a Trace, NCIS. There’s entire networks dedicated to investigative journalism. Real life crime! I probably babysat for way longer into adolescence than I intended to just so I could watch crime TV after the kids went to bed.
At some point I realized that all this television was no good for me. No good. I still struggle with it. I can’t ignore TV that’s playing in restaurants and if I’m at someone’s house and they turn the TV on, I have to go into another room or I’ll be sucked in. Internet addiction might have replaced Television Addiction. Might have. I’m not sure.
Some of the old TV shows are still on, but there’s new ones. Without a Trace went away. It seems to have been replaced by Criminal Minds. From what little I know, it’s about criminal investigators for the FBI who specialize in serial killers. They take the killer’s MO and guess what the killer’s mind is like, and use that information to find the killer. In real life, while there are criminal profilers who do federal investigations, they’re not a specialized team. They’re like consultants, who are brought in to assist in difficult cases sometimes. And honestly, experiments have proven that despite their training, they’re no better than the general population at profiling criminals.
So I was taking my lunch break at work, and Criminal Minds was on. I sat behind the TV and tried to focus on my word puzzle, but no. This show kept beating my ears. With its dramatic music and dramatic one-liners. They found out that one of the killers had bought a double soy latte and for some reason they magically knew that this double soy latte was relevant, so one of the women said, “You know, I suddenly have a craving for a double soy latte.”
Like this dude:
He kinda looks like a poor man’s Cillian Murphy. I thought I recognized him from something, but I looked on his IMDB profile and, like, he’s been in a Wes Anderson film and he was in 500 Days of Summer. He’s also the current voice of Simon from Alvin and the Chipmunks. And other than that, this is his big role. So he’s just…one of those dudes who’s mildly successful in Hollywood, I guess. Just another character actor.
Lord he’s skinny. You can’t tell from this particular picture, but he is a stick.
Anyway, part of the reason I knew this show was ridiculous was because they go to the coffee shop where this Plot Relevant Latte was purchased. They showed the owner(?) of the shop pictures of the victims, but none of their faces really stick out to him. Then they notice that one of the bulk travel boxes is actually a camera and asked if he was recording them. The owner(?) seemed ashamed of the camera. He stuttered that it was just to watch the cash drawer — okay fine it was to watch his coworkers…
Everyone knows that there’s cameras everywhere in a retail environment? Especially at the registers? Like it’s standard procedure? Has been for decades? The cameras are there to catch the criminals? If this man is really a coffeeshop owner or manager or whatever, this shouldn’t be an embarrassing fact, it should be something he’s always had to deal with. As criminal investigators, they should know this. They should have asked about the security footage. They had the date and time that the Plot Relevant Latte was purchased. After showing him the faces, their next question should have been something like, “So can we see your security footage from April 17th?”
And the writers should know this too! Looking at the security footage is practically cliche!
And the footage was in High Definition, and it was in color. They even did the thing where they zoomed in on the footage and it started out blurry, but then it suddenly snapped into clear focus to show the tiny detail needed to continue the plot. (here is a comic explaining what I’m talking about — it’s too big to post here, being 4250 pixels tall)
And then Discount Cillian Murphy was brought in, with giant nerd glasses and a sweatervest,
OH MY GOD I FOUND A PICTURE OF HOW STUPID IT WAS
And apparently this HD color security footage could be played at whatever speed you wanted, so he watched it at THE FASTEST SPEED.
The owner of the coffeeshop was like, “Are you sure? No mortal man can handle footage that fast!”
The black FBI investigator standing in the shadows laughed. “You don’t understand. Tell him. Tell him you read War and Peace!”
“Again!” said Discount Cillian Murphy. “In the original Russian!”
“This is relevant and a normal thing for nerds,” said the coffeeshop owner. Thus convinced, the coffeeshop owner played the entirety of April 17th for Discount Cillian Murphy.
There were many dramatic close-ups of his eye.
Discount Cillian Murphy babbled something about speed-reading while staring at the screen. Then he found the next plot nugget and the story continued.
Loaded with the information from the Plot Relevant Latte and the thing about the nurse’s nametag that Discount Cillian Murphy found, Our Hero Greg from Dharma and Greg called up the next magical nerd.
Her IMDB describes this character as “bespectacled-brainiac-tech-kitten” which is a weird bunch of a words, but certainly they are four words strung together, which is nice. Also, this character is played by an actress named Kirsten Vangsness, but the character’s name is Penelope Garcia.
To be fair, they did nail the tumblr-hipster look, but a) she’s like 40* and therefore wouldn’t dress like a college student b) actually that’s really my only problem with the way she looks c) wait I remember now — they’ve always had her dress this way for the 10 years this show has been on, which means that this look was meant to look stupid and nerdy and they failed completely, what the heck people
Greg calls up Tech Kitten and this is my other big issue with this show. You see, it was Tech Kitten who found the Plot Relevant Latte. She called up the main team, or they called her up, it doesn’t really matter. A phone call was made. She said, “[the victim] bought a Double Soy Latte at Not Starbucks on April 17th.”
-An FBI Hacker
-Has Easy Access
-To Financial Records
Except these can’t be financial records, because financial records wouldn’t say “Double Soy Latte”. Financial Records would say April 17th, Not Starbucks, $4.78. But remember the quip from the female FBI investigator above — Tech Kitten specifically said “Double Soy Latte”, causing the quip.
They ask, for some unknown reason, if this coffeeshop is near a university?
“It is,” says Tech Kitten.
Our Hero Greg says that the University isn’t relevant, because our killer lacks any academic thinking (?????)
Is the university near a hospital?
“There’s a hospital tied to the university,” says Tech Kitten.
Don’t…don’t they live in this city? Shouldn’t they know that there’s a hospital tied to the university? According to IMDB, this show takes place in Quantico, VA, which lacks a university, so maybe they’re telecommunicating with the local police. Except Black FBI Guy, Discount Cillian Murphy, and Brunette FBI Chick all went to the coffeeshop in person. So like, in a world where Magical FBI Hacker knows that you bought a Double Soy Latte, the FBI’s greatest criminal investigators don’t know that there’s a hospital tied to the local university?
They ask if there’s any patients at that hospital who have been declared terminal in the last month.
Tech Kitten presses some buttons. I will admit that the button-pressing was not button-mashing, which is how NCIS portrays hacking.
The typing depicted actually seemed to have some sort of purpose. She appeared to make the computer do some sort of task. She didn’t use her mouse, and there was surprisingly little actual typing. Perhaps she already had this list prepared. I don’t know why she would have this list prepared. I’m about 109% certain that having this sort of list is 64 kinds of illegal and violates doctor-patient privacy.
“There are 300 patients who have been declared terminal in the last month,” says Tech Kitten.
“Do any of them match the Other Plot Relevant List?”
The sixth one on the list did. She scrolled right over his name, bringing up a picture and little bio on him.
I wish I could remember what the other Plot Relevant List was. It didn’t bother me as much as the list of patients declared terminal, so it didn’t stick out in my mind. But it also seemed weird that the FBI would have that list on-hand. It also seemed weird that the data was so accessible. You would think it would take a while to compare the two lists. But she just had two windows open and magically scrolled to the correct one. You would think some of this information would require warrants to get. But no, Tech Kitten just c&pd and hacked her way through our privacy laws.
In case you’re wondering, the killer was Kevin from The Office.