Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's my money and I'll yell if I want to

So I think I've mentioned that one of our guys got a job recently. He is a courtesy clerk at a local grocery store. (Essentially, he bags groceries and gets carts off the lot.) He was very excited to start earning a paycheck. And we were excited for him. He is getting out of the house, off the internet and XBOX.

However, in a recent meeting with one of the people in our finance office, I learned that he will only actually be receiving a very small portion of each check. Once SSI gets their cut and he pays back some of his debts for damages, etc., he only ends up with about $25 a week. After a couple of meetings about who was going to break this news to him, Lowell and I finally volunteered just to get it out in the open. Needless to say, he was not happy with the news and told us in no uncertain terms that he will NOT sign up for direct deposit and he will NOT turn his check over to anybody except the lady at the bank who will cash it for him. With this, we decided that if the finance people want to talk to him about it more, they can, but we are done.

However, he did receive a check in the mail for a training period where he was essentially "trying out" for the job and not getting paid. When finance got this check, they immediately deposited it into his bank account so that his bills can get paid. After he checked the mail for several days looking for the check, we finally told him that it was already in his account. Then we hunkered down and prepared for war. After several threats of things he was going to do, we got his dad on the phone so that he could try to reason with him.

After no fewer than three hours on the phone and yelling and cursing like you wouldn't believe, he finally calmed a little. During the three hour period, I took the liberty of jotting down some of the better quotes that were being yelled throughout the house.

"If I don't have the check in my hand in the next 48 hours, I am going to go down to City Hall, get a lawyer and sue this company until they are bankrupt."

"I'll just hack into the IRS' website and change my income so they won't know how much I am making and won't change my SSI. (Pause) I can too hack into it. I'll get on YouTube and learn how. You can learn how to do anything on YouTube."

"Don't they know it's a federal offense to take somebody else's paycheck?" (We can see he is not getting the fact that the money is in HIS account to pay HIS bills.)

"I was so mad today about all this that I couldn't even focus on bagging groceries."

"I will turn over every check I've gotten as soon as I get that big one back in my hands. Except for the fact that I've already cashed them and bought 3 games and 2 movies and don't have any of the money left."

And my personal favorite:

"Tomorrow I am calling the 800 number and taking this company on Judge Mathis. We'll see what he has to say about it!"

But the best quote just might have come from me. A few days earlier, I watched the movie "Gran Torino" with this particular client. I thought it had such a great story except for all of the extraneous language. It made me sad, because there was just no good reason for all of the language used throughout this movie. Joshua wants to see it, but Lowell and I were both adament after seeing it that he has no business seeing (or rather hearing) this movie. Yet, after three hours of this guy yelling and cursing throughout their side of the house while Joshua watched Monday Night Football and tried to turn up the volume when the language on the other side of the house was particularly offensive, I looked at Lowell and said, "Tell me again why we won't let Joshua see Gran Torino??" (Still not gonna let him see it, just gonna let him live it.)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

There's a Dead Bird on the Porch

We recently traveled back home to Arkansas for a week to visit family and friends for the holidays. While there, Joshua had the opportunity to go duck hunting. He had never been and was oh, so excited. He (and of course, me, his alarm clock) got up at the ridiculous hour of 3 AM in order to be out there before the sun came up. Personally, I think it's crazy to do anything at all at 3 AM, but whatever. I was back in bed and asleep before they pulled out of the driveway.

My mom was planning on having a whole slew of family over to celebrate Christmas later that night so I was in the kitchen helping her get ready (or maybe I was just sitting there keeping her company while she was getting ready...). Joshua and Pop (mom's new husband) were due back soon and Lowell was enjoying being in a house with NFL Network.

As mom and I are chatting we hear this loud bang and are startled. I realized that a bird had flown into the window and fallen onto the deck. It was a very pretty bird and I was kind of panicking about the fact that there is a dead bird on the deck and there were about to be 20 people in the house for Christmas dinner and what on earth were we going to do about the dead bird?!?!?! As we are debating this, we noticed the dead bird seems to be breathing, so we cross our fingers and wait, and sure enough, the dead bird moved, and then finally flew away. As we are being thankful that there are no dead birds on the porch, Joshua and Pop came home. Joshua jumped out of the vehicle and this is what I saw:

Then, not only was my kid holding two dead ducks, there were about twelve just dumped in the yard:

And then they began to clean them:

And to think I was worried about one poor little dead bird on the porch and what the company would think!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Now that Christmas is over...

I may as well go ahead and say "Happy Thanksgiving!" I have been meaning to write a Thanksgiving blog for some time now, but just didn't have it in me. I know this may cause some kind of outrage but I am not a fan of the Thanksgiving holiday. Don't get me wrong - I am very blessed and VERY thankful for all of the blessings that God has poured out on me! However, I really dislike having a day when we are all expected to put on a big meal and get all the family together, just to eat and then clean it all up. Maybe it's a little bit of laziness on my part, but I just don't get the point.

Not to put all of the blame on my mother, BUT, growing up, I can remember going over to my grandmother's house every Thanksgiving. The food was amazing!! (I mean really, can ANYBODY make turkey and dressing and pumpkin pie like a grandma???) The company was fun, and I enjoyed it. Until it was over. 'Cause when it was over, everybody except for me and my cousin went to the den to watch football. And I'm sure I don't even have to say what fun was waiting for us... yep, ALL the dishes. And of course, just to pour salt in my wounds, grandma didn't have a dishwasher. (Well she did, but it didn't work, and "what is the need for fixin' it, when it's just as easy and faster to wash 'em by hand?") This probably sounds really spoiled and I think I'd whop Joshua a good one if he ever complained about a holiday because he had to do a little work at the end, BUT this is my memory.

So this year, I must say, I was most looking forward to Thanksgiving Day spent all alone. That's right, Joshua was in Arkansas and Lowell was leaving on Wednesday to go there himself. I was going to eat a peanut butter sandwich, kick back and watch some FaLaLaLa Lifetime. But you know what they say about the best laid plans.

A couple of days before my wonderfully planned out day of rest, we got a phone call from the parents of one of the guys who lives with us. The father was inviting us to to eat Thanksgiving Day brunch at a local hotel with his family. I've written many blog entries about their son and to say that the apple didn't fall far from the tree would be an understatement. This was most definitely not the way I wanted to spend my day or the people I wanted to share it with. However, since a large part of our job is built upon the relationships we have with the families of the men we serve, we decided to accept the invitation and make the best of it. And let me tell ya', it was not easy!

After several phone calls that morning where he expressed his dismay in the fact that one of the other gentlemen had not been picked up yet and this might cause us to be delayed and he reminded me that he was doing us the favor of taking us out so we wouldn't have to cook and he had made a reservation and all and it would be rude to be late (yes, he really said all that), we arrived at the hotel only to find that we were the first ones there. The family came in several minutes later. We were introduced to the sister whom we had never met, along with her "latest boyfriend" who apparently didn't have a name. We later found out they had been dating for a year and a half. You don't have to know these folks long to figure out why she might have had several previous boyfriends. "Latest" was a decent guy and hopefully he'll stay around and bring a little sanity to the family.

We dug right in to the buffet (with no prayer of Thanksgiving or even mention of things we might be thankful for). We got a lesson - that went on and on - on the proper angle to hold your dinner plate when walking from the buffet to the table to ensure that no food slips. And we heard all about them. Their son was virtually ignored until another family with a son who also had special needs came in. Then it was all about "Do you know him? Why don't you say 'hi'?" Really people?? Just because they have special needs doesn't mean they all know one another. Made me want to say, "Hey that man over there looks ignorant! Do you know him? Why don't you say 'hi?"

But by far, by far, the quote of the day came when he was speaking of his conservative beliefs and how much trouble is being caused for our country by people who don't believe quite the same as he does. He actually said, "Personally, I think we should do like Hitler, line up all the liberals, and euthanize them." I just about feel out of my chair. Really??? Really?? You really think that Hitler had something going on? Think he hit the nail on the head? If you don't like somebody, just kill 'em off??? I just wanted to say, "Trust me pal, you for one, need to be thankful that Hitler's method is not a commonly accepted practice."

I couldn't get home soon enough. As I sat in my chair, not having to do any dishes, or clean up anybody else's mess, I realized that God was teaching me a great lesson. Not just in restraint of my tongue or in patience of my heart, but in what I am truly thankful for. I am most grateful for a family that enjoys eating together, praying together, and sharing about that which we are thankful. I am so blessed to have people in my life who love me even when I only talk about myself, and when I say or do really stupid things. I am blessed to have been raised in a family that taught me that you don't kill people just because you don't like them. (Never really thought I would have a need to say that, but...) I am blessed to have a mother and father who taught me that washing the dishes after a meal is the very least I can do to say "thank you" to a grandmother who cooked all week to prepare the meal. And I am so blessed that God gave me a child to whom I can also teach these same lessons and a husband who will teach him with me. And knowing that I would give pretty much anything to have a Thanksgiving meal one more time with the only person I ever knew who was willing to work all week just to make the best cornbread dressing EVER, my grandma, I will make it a point to look forward to next November, when hopefully, I will be able to join with the people I love and celebrate all the blessings for which we are truly thankful!

But I'd really rather not have to do the dishes...

Monday, December 7, 2009

It Was Backwards Day!

Sorry for being so neglectful of the blog. It's MOST CERTAINLY not for lack of excitement around here, let me tell ya!

Anyway, we'll start off with Backwards Day. Remember as a small child when the answer was yes and you said no, or I wish it would rain, when you really wanted it to be sunny? When somebody questioned you, you laughed and responded, "It's Backwards Day!" Yes it was stupid, but I had a real life backwards day a couple of weeks ago.

Joshua is a HUGE Pittsburgh Steelers fan. His bathroom is completely Steelered out and he has about 1,000 (no exaggeration) Steelers football cards. When we decided to move, we got him excited about the move by telling him that it should be a year for the Steelers to play the Chiefs in Kansas City. And it was. On November 20, Pittsburgh came to town.

Some good friends of ours from Arkansas also came up for the weekend and we met up with them at Arrowhead Stadium for the big game. Now, for any non-football people that may be reading this, Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl last year. And Kansas City, well they did not. As a matter of fact, the Chiefs haven't won a Super Bowl since 1970! That's before I was born people! So needless to say, it was more than an expectation that the team from the Steel City would win this one without even trying. But did I mention that it was backwards day? And somewhere in that game, everything went wrong and we lost in overtime. (I say "we" like me and my family were on that field. Maybe we weren't but our hearts sure were.)

So we joined with our friends to eat dinner out. It's Saturday night in downtown Kansas City and we can't find a restaurant to save our lives. Seriously, every place we went closed "5 minutes ago." It started to get old. We ended up at Famous Daves. They were glad to have us, but they didn't have any food. Yes, once again - a restaurant with no food - how backward is that?? Okay, they had a little food, but the list of "what we are out of" seemed to go on and on.

And then things really got crazy. We went back with them to their hotel. This was not just any hole-in-the-wall place. It was the Westin Crown Center. And all we saw were bulldogs. Yep, bulldogs everywhere. It was a bulldog convention. Not even lying about that. There was a Saran Wrap type material all over the floors that was just weird. But one bulldog owner was quick to exclaim that we would understand the need for that if we "had ever seen a bulldog poop!" Yeah, okay. We just walked away from that one. Our friend did get christened with a bulldog "shake and slobber" as she was waiting to get on an elevator. Uh GROSS! Her husband was quick to point out the fact that you could have a Bulldog Owners Convention and it would still bring in the same amount of money and with no mess! He pointed out that the owners could even tell the dogs that they went to the convention and had a good time and they wouldn't know the difference. Why? Because they are DOGS for goodness sake. What happened to "no pets allowed?" I guess on Backwards Day, everything was just gone to the dogs...