Monday, September 04, 2006

hummingbird feeder : They're called 'gift certificates.' Did you ever wonder why?

Writes In Search of a Pseudonym: "I am a magnet for bad customer service. No matter where I go or what I do.

"I went to a large chain grocery store and asked to buy 10 $25 gift certificates. The girl looked at me strangely and said the transaction would have to be authorized by her manager. Of course, she didn't use big words like that, but that was what she meant. Before calling the manager, she asked me why I wanted the gift certificates. I, thinking that was a tremendously stupid question, said: 'To give to people.'

"She called her manager, all the while gazing at me strangely. She had a discussion with her manager, her side of which consisted of monosyllabic sounds like 'Uhh' and 'Uh-huh.' When she hung up, she told me she could not sell me the gift certificates. I, stunned, asked her why. She said that it was because what I wanted to do with them did not make sense.

"Little did I know that giving gift certificates as gifts does not make sense. Silly me. I told her that I had moved the previous week and that I intended to give the gift certificates to the people who had helped me, but that since her store did not want to sell them to me, I could certainly go buy them from the competitor. Then I did. The competitor was more than happy to take my money and complete my transaction, and my gift recipients were probably happier with the gift certificates that I bought than they would have been with the ones I tried to buy.

"The interesting part was that she never looked at the driver's license or debit card that I placed on the counter. She never tried to confirm that I was me and that my card was good. She just denied my transaction because she didn't like the reason that I gave her for my purchase: that I was going to give the gift cards as gifts."

Ask a serious question…

Al B of Hartland: "The fellow pulled into a business establishment in a small town in Alaska.

" 'How do I get to a McDonald's?' he asked the crusty old proprietor.

" 'Go to the first stop sign, take a right, keep going. It will be on your left. You can't miss it.'

"The fellow left in a hamburger-hungry hurry.

"There was one thing the proprietor neglected to inform the traveler. The nearest McDonald's was right where he said, but it was 185 miles away."

They're out there!

From "Wednesday, Aug. 16, on 10th Street in Oakdale, I saw a man in a company work van driving and using two cell phones at once! He was talking on one in his right hand and trying to dial the one in his left hand. SCARY!!!"

The highfalutin amusements

Spam Division

E-mail: "The latest from Linden Hills Girl, who lives a very sheltered existence:

"Some of the more creative senders of spam e-mail: Mr. Odium T. Antedating, Mr. Oftentimes H. Arminius and Mr. (possibly Ms.? It's so hard to tell these days) Stifled R. Sapsuckers.

"All were promoting the very best in helpful and marvelously illicit street pharmaceuticals. (Naturally, I declined to order.)

"Cheers! =..="

Later that day: "Two more additions to our sly spam pharmaceutical senders (say that 10 times fast): Mr. Drives R. Lowliness and (drum roll, please) Ms. Butter R. Flagella. How do I know BRF is a she? 'Cause I just know, that's why.

"Cheers! =..="

Life as we know it

Bonnie, north of Minong, Wis.: "Bulletin Board asked: 'What's the secret of life?'

"My answer is a memory of my mother, standing in our kitchen and looking down into my pre-adolescent eyes and smilingly asking if I knew the secret of life.

"A few years later, my parents, my sister and I were sitting down front in my hometown concert hall. I had the aisle seat. We were anticipating the performance of a very famous baritone. And there he was — striding out from stage left, accompanied by a crescendo of applause, his towering compact body clad in tails, his blond wavy hair coiffed to perfection glimmering in the lights. Even his black patent-leather shoes gleamed. At center stage he stopped, acknowledging our applause; then, turning his head, looked down at me and smiled. The orchestra played the overture. The baritone's first musical words, emanating from deep within his chest, poured out: 'Ah, sweet mystery of life, at last I've found thee. Ah, I know at last the secret of it all.'

"And the secret is? As Nelson Eddy sang: 'It's love, and only love, the world is seeking.' "

Life (and death) as we know it

High Rev: "We buried my dad's ashes recently [Bulletin Board interjects: High Rev's dad was The Big Geezer of La Crescent], and with my sisters, their families and my four cousins and their families present, of course the stories began to flow.

"To say Dad was competitive at cards and board games is like saying Sinatra hummed a few tunes. His favorite game, and the one he most hated to lose, was cribbage. Last Thanksgiving, he taught the game to my nephew's friend Michael. Riding the 'beginner's luck' wave, Michael beat Dad the last game of the day.

"When word came that Dad had died over New Year's, Michael was horrified. 'That means he went out on a loss,' he told my sister. My sister responded that chances were good that Dad had played at least once over the Christmas holidays, and indeed he had, beating me twice in the last two games we played together. So Dad was able to go out on a two-game winning streak.

"We laughed about it, but in retrospect, Michael was probably right. There would have been something askew in the universe if Dad had 'gone out on a loss,' especially at cribbage."

Oh, and was her face red!

The Blue Bubble's Friend: "Many years ago, a group of people with whom I worked went on a powwow. The next couple of days, I was really mouthing off about one of the young men. I said I thought he was really a bummer and very involved with himself. Well, what I didn't know was that one of the young women with whom I worked had started dating him. Boy, was my face red when I heard this.

"She went on to marry this young man. But in the end, sorry to say, I was correct in my assessment of him. It ended up that he cheated on her, and they finally got divorced. Too bad!"

The kindness of strangers

The Other Princess: "On Sunday afternoon, Aug. 20, along with approximately 2,500 other people, I walked up to the State Capitol amid the applause of thousands of family and friends. We had just completed walking in the 3-Day for Breast Cancer. Over the course of 60 miles, there were so many people who came out to cheer on friends and family. Others came out just because we were walking through their neighborhoods or just to offer their support and to thank us for walking.

"Now it is my turn to thank all of you who were out there for being there. Whether you came out just to cheer us on, or whether you offered us some sort of treat, your support helped us get through many miles when we didn't think that we had the strength to go on. Knowing how many people are out there supporting complete strangers tugs at the heartstrings in a way that you can't possibly imagine unless you have been there, especially when you realize that so many are out there because they have been touched by breast cancer. To all of you who were out there supporting us, thank you from the bottom of my heart, and God bless."

Our birds, ourselves

IGHGrampa: "I worked as fast as I could. I had the liquid food prepared ahead of time. It took about five minutes to bring the feeder in, rinse it out, refill it and get it back out there. I know I should have done a better job in cleaning it, but I was afraid the little hummers would be deprived of a source of vital nutrients for too long.

"We have our hummingbird feeder hanging right outside our front window. Our daughter got us started feeding hummers a number of years ago by presenting us with a feeder kit. Now we have one set up every summer. Lately, the little gluttons have been emptying the feeder in about a week. It holds about a measuring cup of liquid food. Maybe they're building their strength for the migration south in another month.

"We're always entertained to watch the little birds zipping about. Hummers are very fast fliers. That seems logical, considering that their wings flap at more than 50 beats a second. I know there are at least two of them that visit us regularly. I'm pretty sure there are more. Sometimes I see birds that are smaller.

"The two biggest birds are rather competitive. One will hover for a second or two, as if reconnoitering the situation. Then it will swoop and zip away as another comes to chase it. Seeing how quickly they dart around, one could easily imagine them to be one of the fastest birds in the world. Once one of them even thumped against the window. I checked outside for it; apparently no harm done, since I did not find any bird on the ground.

"Sometimes one will hover in front of the window and just look into the house. I suppose they're curious about us. Maybe it's just their way of greeting us and saying thank you."

There oughtta be a law!

Paul Peter Paulos of St. Paul: "While walking and fishing the shoreline beneath the Ford Dam, a favorite area for a lazy fisherman like myself, I noticed how many more canoeists and kayakers were around now that the river was so slow and low.

"Yet one thing seems never to change, and that's how many muscle boats blast up and down the river, bouncing other watercraft and wading fishermen alike.

"I thought about this and realized that going fast and making noise is assuredly a personal right, I suppose, but I also noticed something else as I walked farther south. That is, these same testoboats all drastically slowed to obey a huge 'No Wake' sign I saw up ahead by the river's edge. This sudden slowdown seemed so peculiar, I decided to investigate. It turns out the sign was positioned directly in front of the Watergate marina. In other words, the boats at anchor, many of them the very boats scaring the bejesus out of the kayakers and canoeists with their wake, were themselves protected from such treatment by their mega-horsepowered brethren.

"Really! There ought to be a law that what you give out, you get back!"

'I was misinformed'

Artgekko of Lindstrom: "Whenever we find ourselves in a situation that calls for immediate distraction and neutralization of the live studio audience that is the rest of the world (for instance, taking a corner too sharply with the cart at the grocery store and accidentally spilling most of the contents of an end-cap display, or tripping in the parking lot after church), my husband or I borrow a line from Mason the chimpanzee in 'Madagascar' and say: 'If you have poo, fling it now!'

"Of course, it has to be said out of the earshot of our boys, who are at the ages where the EPPI-toam of HI-larity is potty humor, or else we will hear the phrase repeated over and over and over and over (and then again just to be sure Mom really wants them to stop). Usually at the checkout lane, of course, with a captive audience."


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