Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What Did They Just Say?

They say it’s the little things that make life worth living. In my case, it’s the little ridiculous things that amuse me to no end. Here are a few recent ones that put a smile on my face.

I heard an ad on the radio for a Nevada attorney’s office that proclaimed they were “open Monday through Friday, closed Sundays.” That brought up some questions for me. They must know about Saturday, right? What happens there between Friday and Sunday? I was very curious, but given that it was a lawyer’s office, I figured maybe it was a trick to get you to show up on Saturday so they could sue you for trespassing, so I didn’t pursue it any further.

I saw a carpet cleaning van the other day with a logo that I'm fairly certain was trying to suggest that they could get stains out of your carpet. It had the word “Stain” and the word “Gone”, but the “Gone” was the word inside the red circle with the diagonal line through it. Stains not gone? Why would I hire them? I can do that myself!

I saw a headline a while back that read “Man catches halibut weighing just over 319 pounds.” I thought, either it was a pretty good size fish, or the guy needs to lose some weight.

I was at the airport in Portland, Oregon last month and heard the following page: “Abdulla Alqadi (last name pronounced AL-KAY-DIE), please report to the security checkpoint to retrieve your property.” Yeah, right. Please report to the security checkpoint to continue your full cavity search! Sorry, Abdulla, but with a name like that, it might just be easier to take the bus.

A few years ago the DMV sent me a form to permanently register my boat trailer. One final payment, and I received special license plates, never to pay another dime again. Until a couple of years later I received my bill for the “Permanent Trailer Semi-Annual Fee”. It’s the government. They can’t help themselves. Or more to the point, they can and they do!

I got a coupon this weekend from a hotel spa that was offering, among other things, their “Ultimate Back Facial and Massage.” What could a “back facial” possibly be? Do you lie on the table face up or face down? Does it come with an oxymoronic cleansing wrap? Will I be relaxed afterward or just confused? Then I read that it cost $100 so I decided to leave that one a mystery.

I heard an ad on my favorite AM station last week for a company that was offering “Payday Loan Consolidation Programs.” They said if you had two or more payday loans that were late or already in collections, they could help. Then they put the icing on the cake. “Even if you have bad credit.” Can you please show me one person in America who has multiple outstanding payday loans that has a credit score over 32?

The other day I passed a Jeep parked near my street with for sale sign in the window. It was beat up and old and had a layer of dirt on it that suggested it had been there for a while. Posted in the window was a printed out page of four pictures of the same Jeep when it was apparently brand new and shiny. Now I can understand trying to fool someone with the new shiny pictures on the internet or in a magazine, but what idiot is going to look at them in the Jeep’s window and think “Wow! This old heap looked great when it was new! I’ll take it.”

And just this morning I heard an ad on the radio for a company selling gold. Their incredibly innovative sales pitch was as follows:
“Stocks are volatile and real estate is way off, but gold is at record highs! Now is a great time to buy gold for your portfolio.”
I’m sorry, what did he just say???? I think I’m going to have to pass, since the old “buy high, sell low” plan has backfired on me in the past. Thanks anyway.

See you soon,

Copyright © 2008 Marc Schmatjen

Have kids? Have grandkids? Need a great gift?
Go to www.smidgebooks.com today and get your copy of “My Giraffe Makes Me Laugh,” Marc’s exciting new children’s book. Get ready for a wild rhyming adventure!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My Mind is in the Toilet

Now that I am a dad, I spend a lot of time thinking about toilets. They seem to have become a central theme in my life. I have a four-year-old and a two-and-a-half-year-old in potty training and that inevitably leads to a lot of concern over commodes.

All activities away from the home now have a toilet element in the planning that sometimes eclipses all other decision making.
- We need to try and go potty before we leave.
- Was it successful?
- Yes, OK we’re good for a while.
- No? OK, when was the last time we went potty?
- Will that affect our route to the mall?
- We’d better try again at the mall before we do anything else.
- Where are the toilets in the mall and how will that affect where I park?
- What did we come to the mall for? Was it toilets? I forget.

On road trips I used to stop only when I needed gas and I would choose a gas station based on the price of unleaded. Now I stop at regularly scheduled potty intervals and I choose gas stations on a wide variety of criteria, all having to do with the toilet.
- Does this place have a potty?
- If so, is it in a safe, well lit location?
- If so, does the exterior suggest that the interior will be clean?
- If so, based on past restroom/gas station chain experience, is this place likely to have a diaper changing station (for the 6-month-old)?
- If so, does this place also sell gas?
- If so, great! What’s that? The gas is sixty-seven dollars per gallon more than the dimly-lit, dirty-looking place across the street? Oh, well!

Once I have picked a bathroom successfully, and we’re going in, I now find myself paying much more attention to the lower half of the room. This is due to the proximity of my boys to the floor and their propensity for picking anything up. I’m like a Secret Service agent clearing a hotel’s back corridor just seconds ahead of POTUS.
“Yes, I’m in and we have one unsavory character at urinal three, but otherwise clear of civilians, over.”
“Wait, we’ve got something on the floor. Hang on.”
“No, it’s OK, it’s just an empty McDonald’s bag.”
“We’re clear people, let’s bring em’ in.”

And what is the story with public parks that don’t have toilets? The people that build parks know that children will come there, right? They put in nineteen acres of Kentucky bluegrass and keep it mowed and trimmed neater than the fairways at Augusta, but they can’t afford to maintain one hole in the ground? What am I paying taxes for? I’m not even asking for toilet paper! I’ll bring my own. I always have wipes. Just provide a hole and a seat. This is an especially troubling phenomenon in the newer subdivisions without any mature trees. You never really know how you’re going to react in a crisis situation until you have a kid dancing around at your heels saying “Daddy, daddy I really need to poop” and you scan the area to discover you are standing on what looks like the surface of the moon. “Hold it” is not a fool-proof option for a three-year-old when you’re fifteen minutes from home. Sometimes, you just have to hold your kid over a trash can.

And speaking of wipes, how did we ever live our pre-parental lives without them? I can’t even remember my life before having children, but I know for a fact it must have been horribly inconvenient without constantly having access to baby wipes. Now granted, before I had kids I probably had fewer messes to deal with every day, but let’s face it, I was a bachelor. I wasn’t exactly Mr. Clean. (Besides the fact that there is no possible way I could pull off the bald-with-a-gold-hoop-earring quasi pirate look, I wasn’t all that clean either.) What did I use to clean up spills? Or shine my shoes? Or blow my nose, clean my sunglasses, dust the house, wash my hands, clean the dashboard, wash my feet, wipe down the kitchen, wash my face, check my oil, or polish the silverware? I probably just used my shirt like my kids do.

As if off-site bathrooms weren’t enough of a concern, the bathrooms at home aren’t exactly free from troubles either. Sure the kids have easy access to them, but sometimes, that’s the problem. Since we’ve had children, I have very rarely used my toilet by myself. Some little one either wants to come in to watch how it’s done, or just needs to be in there with me to talk about what’s going on. If I lock the door, that often leads to a lot of knocking, banging, or crying about not being able to get in.

Before I had kids I never gave one thought to the bathrooms at work. Now I cherish them. Using the bathroom at work is the only time I ever have any privacy on the toilet anymore. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will have very little privacy in my own bathroom ever again, unless I can hold out until nine or ten at night when I’m relatively sure there won’t be any more boys boomeranging out of bed to use the potty. But even after nine it’s a crapshoot (so to speak). There is always the off chance that someone will still get up because “There’s another poop in there,” or “Whoops, I forgot to pee.”

Go use the toilet at the park kid. Here’s some wipes.

See you soon,

Copyright © 2008 Marc Schmatjen

Have kids? Have grandkids? Need a great gift?
Go to www.smidgebooks.com today and get your copy of “My Giraffe Makes Me Laugh,” Marc’s exciting new children’s book. Get ready for a wild rhyming adventure!