Complainers feel the heat

It is common knowledge that Washington, D.C. in the summer is a brick oven, a solid mass of heat-reflecting concrete. You sizzle like a slab of beef slowly turning over an open flame.

Despite this well-known fact, our daughter and her family spent four days with their kids in D.C. touring the Capitol, the White House and visiting memorials and monuments.

We took a similar trip years ago when our kids were school age.  We toured the White House, sat in the gallery of the House of Representatives, walked the National Mall and visited monuments. Ask them what they remember, and they will say, “A man with a huge snake wrapped around his body standing outside the Smithsonian and the heat. Mostly the heat.”

So much for educational vacations.

Our daughter’s family logged as many as 30,000 steps a day in the blistering heat and humidity of D.C. They also played a game to see who could go the longest without complaining.

Perhaps they didn’t know D.C. is a city built on complaining. It is a prerequisite that you complain about the heat. I think they even sell t-shirts in D.C. that say, “We came. We saw. We complained.”

You don’t go to Maine and not get lobster. You don’t go to the beach and not get in the water. You don’t go to D.C. in the summer and not complain.

Complaining is the foundation of democracy. If we hadn’t complained against the British, we wouldn’t be a nation.

I asked the youngest if she had complained. She said not out loud, but she did in her mind—about the heat, her feet hurting, wanting to stop and wondering if there was a bench anywhere.

Another admitted that she complained out loud about the heat and the humidity. She also volunteered that her mother complained about their father not complaining.

For the most part nobody complained until late in the day, which was remarkable consider the heat index.

We joined them on the last two stops of their trip, Mount Vernon and Monticello. They asked if we wanted to take the No Complaining challenge. We said sure.

We had this. We were “in it to win it.” We were fresh off the bench and they were worn slick. Wet noodles. The youngest even looked like she didn’t feel well. At the very least we could outlast her.

We asked what the prize was.

There was no prize.

We both complained, but only to ourselves.

The first morning in a hotel together, I returned to our rooms after wandering through the hotel lobby.

Someone asked if I found any coffee.

“No,” I said. “There was nothin’!”

Two minutes later I was informed I was out of the competition. One of the kids reported that I had complained there was no coffee.

“I was merely stating a fact,” I offered in my defense.

I was told that my tone was complaining.

What did they expect? There wasn’t any coffee.

Barely after 7 a.m. and I was knocked out of the competition.

I inquired about a do-over. No.

A second chance? No.

Three strikes and you’re out? No.

The first one awake and the first one busted.

Where does a woman go to complain?

Share This:

No, you can’t have my banking info

That rich Nigerian prince fellow must have found someone to take all his money because he hasn’t emailed me in ages.

I’ve also noticed that my friends have become better at international travel. I no longer receive emails from “close friends” (whom I haven’t heard from in years) allegedly stranded overseas, desperate because they were mugged, had their passport stolen and now urgently need help to buy a Google Play card for a grandkid’s birthday.

If I were stranded with no money, identification or passport, the last thing on my mind would be a grandkid’s birthday. (Sorry, kids!)

Nigerian princes and international travelers have disappeared, but other scammers fill the abyss. Most of their correspondence routes directly to my junk file, but a few slip in now and then.

“Mr. Bernard” recently emailed that he has money to give me as a charitable gift. To receive the gift, I will need to send some pertinent financial information. He says he will be waiting.

It’s going to be a long wait, Bernie.

Gordon Cole QC, solicitor at law and investment adviser to my late relative, says my late relatives left behind cash and properties. The solicitor would like to open the floodgates to wealth once I confirm my lineage, surname and country of origin. Gordon hopes to hear from me soon.

Not gonna happen, Gordie.

I have also received notification that I am an heiress. Just when I start pondering what to wear, where to build my estate, and whether Elon Musk will be my friend, along comes another bogus email saying I have unpaid bills. The latest scammer claimed Microsoft Office365 has overlooked my delinquency for some time, but no more.  Unless I open the attached document, all my programs will immediately stop working.

I’ll set fire to my own computer before opening a document from an unknown sender.

A laugh out loud email needs “information necessary to complete Lori Borgman employee’s salary package.” I’ve been writing for 30 years, and I’ve never had a salary package!

All I would have to do is “evaluate the modifications and immediately sign consent to the handbook in section 4.” I’ve never had a handbook either!

The message continued: “This policy’s objectve (sic) is to keep salaries and benefits competitve (sic) while garuanteeing (sic) that the business can keep providing for its clients and staff. Sincerly (sic), Lori Borgman Human Resources Department.”

The only thing that might remotely convince me that I sent an email about myself, to myself, on behalf of myself, was all the typos.

Here’s what always gets me: The people who run scams, commit fraud, credit card and identity theft, and turn people’s lives upside down, probably have a decent measure of intelligence and enterprise. What a waste that they don’t channel those same abilities toward something productive and good.

They could earn a living, and probably a decent one, the way their victims do – by working for it.

Share This:

Garage sales going to the dogs

I am happy to report that the entrepreneur spirit of small business is alive and well. I just witnessed it at our neighborhood garage sale where we hosted a gaggle of grands who are aspiring vendors.

Several may do well in business, and several may do community service time.

The circus barker tried selling his personally-carved walking sticks, calling out “Walking stick? Walking stick?” whenever someone approached. Most people looked straight ahead and acted like they didn’t hear him. His technique didn’t work well at a garage sale, but the kid could have a future as a carnival worker.

The testimonial sales pitch proved highly effective. A 12-year-old baker positioned a round-faced 5-year-old cousin in a chair by her table and kept feeding her chocolate chip cookies. By mid-afternoon, the cookie monster was in a carb stupor, but still smiling with melted chocolate coating her sweet round cheeks.

The demo sales technique not only works for the “As Seen on TV” merchandise but for garage sales as well.

A 14-year-old turned more than $100 in sales of cake pops, vegan cookies and homemade dog treats. Dog treat sales spiked as she and her brother demonstrated the small dog-bone shaped goodies were also edible for humans, popping them into their mouths. Talk about a sure-fire winner. You can feed the dog  and the kids and never again ask yourself, “Wattsfirdinner?”

There was an attempted hostile takeover that transpired as well. One of the quieter vendors was selling her homemade soy candles in small Ball jars, beautifully packaged and reasonably priced.

A cousin on the opposite side of the driveway was selling vintage Mountain Dew bottles he had unearthed from old trash piles in his grandpa’s woods. Noting the larger crowds at his cousin’s candle table, he sauntered over and bought two candles for $3 each.

He then returned to his table and repriced both candles at $5. He would recoup his initial investment and pocket a 66% profit.

His cousin was stunned. We all were. And then Warren Buffett called.

Just kidding.

Then there was the low-key but hard-driving lemonade vendor. A man handed him a ten-dollar bill for a 50-cent lemonade. He paused, looked at the ten, looked at the man, and asked, “Do you want change?”

“The Art of the Deal” was morphing into “The Art of the Steal” before our eyes.

The sting of “know your market” was felt by a jewelry maker in the group selling high-end beautiful handmade earrings. She sold a few but nothing like the volume her sister did in more affordable hair scrunchies and colorful dog bandanas she’d whipped up on her sewing machine.

Years ago, in “The Graduate” a middle-aged businessman told Dustin Hoffman the future was in plastics. Based on our sales tallies, the future is in dog treats and dog bandanas.

You heard it here first: Sales have gone to the dogs.

Share This:

Waves of color and other seasonal delights

Spring did not disappoint this year. The pink dogwood we planted 25 years ago filled the view out the kitchen window with astounding beauty for more than a month. Often, after finishing a meal, having enjoyed the dancing branches wrapped in ruffles of pink, we offered a hearty round of applause and shouted, “Encore! Encore!”

Friends our age are leaving the homes where they’ve raised families, looking for something easier to maintain, smaller yards in particular —something you could mow with a few snips of kitchen scissors. We’ve entertained similar thoughts, wondering if we still need all this space, but we always come back to, “How could we ever leave the dogwood?”

Memories and a pink dogwood keep us tethered to home.

The flowering crabapple next to the driveway delivered a splendid show as well. It was a short run, but the crab always delivers a grand finale shedding pale pink petals that blanket the driveway, looking like the perfect walkway for a wedding. Unless you would have reservations about a ceremony under a basketball hoop with a Purdue backboard.

The bulbs bloomed capping things off with a fine crescendo. Crocus and grape hyacinth started with a low drum roll, followed by jaunty daffodils and tulips with wave after wave of saturated color. Tulips always give me greater appreciation for Tulipmania, the great Holland economic crisis of the mid-1600s. Wild speculation on tulip bulbs drove prices to such heights that one rare bulb could trade for six times the average person’s annual salary.

I could have been one of those fools at the front of the pack. “Yes! I will buy your ruffled apricot tulip bulb in exchange for our house, two horses, a wagon and all our wooden shoes!”

If you learn little else in this life, learn how to plant bulbs that bloom in succession. It will add beauty to the world and measurably improve your mental health.

Spring is God’s reward for enduring winter.

And now, here we are, spring fading into the past and summer knocking at the door. Summer is the season of anticipation. We eagerly await the slow bake of high heat in the backyard, poolside, on a beach somewhere, or standing next to a white hot grill, sweating bullets, barbecue tongs in hand.

We anticipate tomatoes fresh from the garden with juice running down our arms.

And corn – fresh sweet corn. Not the kind that is picked green, refrigerated and shipped in trucks; the farmstand kind so fresh from the field it steams and smells of sweetness the instant you pull back the husk.

We even anticipate that first summer rain, clouds that roll in, water the thirsty earth, then sail away as peacefully as they came, leaving not a trace of damage, destruction or fear.

I for one, anticipate catching naps in the hammock, studying clouds overhead and listening to frogs sing at dusk.

Perhaps what we anticipate most is that rare treasure of finding a window of time do absolutely nothing.

Welcome back, summer. We’re glad to see you.

Share This: