Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Tale of the Pink Shorts

Following surgery to correct problems with my "plumbing" last April, my doctor gave me the typical words of wisdom doctors are required to give after each operation they perform.  His dutiful speech included advice on coping with pain, getting plenty of rest, and taking proper care of my wounds.

What he neglected to tell me, and what no doctors undoubtedly ever tell their patients, is that they might as well take their favorite pair of jeans and throw them into the far reaches of their closet, for it will be a loooooong time until the tummy swelling will allow those jeans to fit comfortably again.

As for me, my energy slowly returned, and my body steadily transitioned to some semblance of normalcy, yet I still refrained from even attempting to look at my favorite jeans, let alone try them on.  I opted instead for comfortable (albeit unfashionable) stretchy pants.

The downside of the stretchy pants? My 17-year old daughter Melissa would not let me get out of the car when I dropped her off for a bus trip with her youth group, lest I embarrass her because I had dared to don my well-worn, 1990's pink sweats.

Sadly, as the days grew longer and the thermometer continued its upward trend towards summer, the pink sweats weren't going to cut it for much longer.  I dreaded the necessity of shopping for comfy clothes to get me through 'till September.

Reluctantly, I made the journey to a local department store, located about a half and hour from home. After carrying what seemed like a year's worth of summer clothes into the dressing room, I felt more and more discouraged as each outfit shined a glaring spotlight onto all of my perceived flaws. Finally, as I started to think I might need to spend July and August clad in my default clothing of choice, pajamas, I struck gold with a pair of blue shorts!

Yes, a simple pair of blue shorts.

Stylish, comfortable, stretchy blue shorts that DID NOT make me look like Attila the Hun.


With enthusiasm, I asked a helpful saleslady if the same style of shorts came in other colors.

"Yes!" came her reply.  "They are also available in pink."

Hooray!  The shorts fit so well I would gladly consider any color - purple with green polka dots  - I didn't care!

"But we don't have the pink shorts in stock," shared the saleslady, abruptly ending my short-lived excitement.

"We can order them online for you," she continued, getting my hopes up again.  "There is a shipping charge if we deliver to your home, but no charge if they are shipped to the store.  We'll call you when they are delivered and you can come pick them up."

It sounded too good to be true.

A week later the call came in.  My pink shorts had arrived!

My husband Bob and I made our way back to the department store, and down to their basement customer service counter to pick up my package.

I gave the salesman my information, and he disappeared in the back to retrieve my pink shorts......or so I thought.

After comparing the label on the package with the receipt in my hand, the salesman felt convinced that our transaction was complete.  I, on the other hand, wanted to make sure.

I opened the package, only to discover....... a purple shirt.

"This is not what I ordered," I said.

"Yes, it is," came his reply.  "It has your name on it, and the bar code matches your receipt."

"That may be the case, but I ordered pink shorts," I insisted.

"Well, I don't know what to tell you," he said.

"Look, look at my receipt. Look at the item number, go online and look!" I demanded.

He looked at the store's website, which gave me the evidence I needed to prove that I had, indeed, ordered pink shorts, not a purple shirt.

"You know, I normally work in the men's department," he said.  "I'm just filling in for the guy who went on break.  Whenever I fill in, there is some kind of problem."

His honesty did little to heighten my confidence.

"Can I reorder the shorts?"

"Yes, but first you have to return the purple shirt."

"But I didn't order the purple shirt," I reminded him, trying to stay calm.

"I know, but the computer thinks you ordered the purple shirt, so the only way I can reorder the pink shorts is to have you return the purple shirt, give you a refund, then order the pink shorts."

"Ok, but can I have the pink shorts delivered to my home so that I don't have to come back here again?" I asked.

"You can, but it will cost $8 for shipping."



"Ok, let me talk to the manager, I'm sure we'll be able to waive the shipping charge."

Indeed, the manager, upon learning of the mishap, approved the free shipping to my home, and Bob and I left the store minus one pair of comfy pink shorts.

Fast forward one week.

I came home from work to find a package waiting for me, faithfully delivered by the department store.  I tore it open....only to find.........BLUE SHORTS!

Yes, that's right.  Instead of pink shorts, they sent me another pair of blue shorts.

The same style blue shorts that I had already purchased two weeks prior.

What's more, they charged me for shipping!


In less than five minutes, I had a pleasant department store customer service representative on the other end of the phone.  Knowing that it was not his fault that his employer apparently hired kindergarten students to fulfill their shipping orders, I struggled to remain calm, and pleasant, and explain the situation.

"Ok ma'am, I can understand why you are upset, and I sincerely apologize," he said.  "All you need to do is return the blue shorts that were shipped to you and then we'll send you the pink shorts."


Let's just say that by the end of the conversation, Mr. Customer Service Rep had agreed to send me my pink shorts via overnight delivery, waive the shipping charge, and allow me to keep the second pair of blue shorts, free of charge.

He assured me that my pink shorts would arrive the very next day!

Fast forward 24 hours.

No pink shorts.

48 hours.

No pink shorts.

72 hours.

No pink shorts.

96 hours.  I came home from work to find a package waiting for me, faithfully delivered by the department store.  I opened the package ever so slowly, afraid of what I might find.  If anything other than a pair of pink shorts had been stuffed inside this box, I surely would have needed an ambulance.

Carefully, I pulled away at the seal and, with trepidation, peeked inside, only to discover....
a pair of pink shorts.  The store finally got it right!

Now I just need to find a shirt to match my new pink shorts....

I am now the proud owner of a pair of pink shorts and two identical pairs of blue shorts,
 thanks to department store ineptitude.

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Surprise in the Notebook

For years, my husband Bob and I have dreamed of taking a trip to London.

Yes, London!

Where the Fab Four found their fame.
Where 2,000 year old buildings co-exist with modern skyscrapers.
Where royal weddings in all their regalia are watched world-wide.
Where you'll find culture, history, entertainment, and shopping galore!

Yes, London!

But would we ever find the right time to go?

As much as I wanted to experience our first overseas vacation, something stood in the overprotective "mommy" fears.  I did not want to leave my daughter Melissa for such a long time, knowing I'd be so far away if anything should happen.  Logically, I knew Melissa would be safe under the loving roof of her big sister Jessica's home.  In fact, she'd be treated like a queen. But still, those overprotective "mommy" fears kept my feet firmly grounded on United States soil.

That is, until Melissa joined the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization (BBYO).

As part of this international organization for teens that fosters community service, leadership skills, friendship, and Jewish heritage, Melissa had the opportunity to spend two weeks this summer at a leadership camp on a college campus in West Virginia.

Hmmmm, if Melissa was tucked away at a leadership camp, perhaps, just perhaps, I could loosen the reins on my overprotective "mommy" fears and take a dream vacation with my hubby to celebrate our 20th anniversary.  I knew she'd be safe, and that at least a dozen family members and friends would gladly be "on call"  to handle an unlikely emergency while we were away.

What's more, my "baby" would be 17. I had to allow myself to let go, if for only two week's time.

As Bob and I sat in the airport, I pulled out my journal, disguised as a standard yellow notebook. By the end of my travels, I hoped to fill these pages with every nuance of our journey, starting with the jumbled emotions that played tug of war with my heart as we waited to board the plane that would whisk us across the pond.

Nervous. Scared. Excited. Worried.

I hadn't even left the country, and already I missed my daughter.

Pen in hand, I opened my journal, only to discover that somebody had already filled up the first two pages. Thinking I had taken one of Melissa's school notebooks by mistake, I started reading.

I had not taken the wrong notebook. My "baby" had written her parents a letter of goodbye, full of hope, and joy, and wisdom, and love.  With her permission, I share her heart-felt words with you now.

Dear Mom and Dad,
     By the time you read this, you will probably be on a plane to England and I will be at camp meeting new people. But knowing my mother, you will probably read this before you even leave the house. Anyway, I'm excited for you guys to finally experience a different country and bask in all of its historic (boring) glory.
     No, but seriously I'm not gonna lie - I'm a little jealous. I know you have so many fun, amazing things planned and so many adventures to go on. Just remember, don't be afraid to try new things! Mom, don't avoid eating certain foods just because you think it will taste yucky. You won't know unless you try.
     And Dad, don't be afraid to step out of the tour group for a second if you see something that isn't being explained. The most beautiful and interesting things in the world could be the thing that the tour guide passes.
     And to both of you - live in the moment. Take in every single thing you see, notice how you are feeling at that moment, and think of it as a blessing.  Not many people get the chance to do what you're doing, so appreciate every minute you have in this magical place and don't waste it constantly looking at your itinerary or watch. Go with the flow and don't be upset if things aren't going as planned. Some of the best moments are made when you don't plan them.
     As for me, I'm going to try to take my own advice at camp. Even though I've been reading blogs and watching videos about what you do there, I'm still nervous for the whole experience. But I know it will be a great one that will allow me to grow as a leader and a person.  It will be the longest I've been away from you guys I think but I will text every night before I go to bed and hopefully find a good time to call before it's bedtime for you guys. Stupid time change...
     I'll miss you guys so much. I'm also going to keep a journal (like mother like daughter) so you can both read about my experiences when we get home. And I can't wait to read about your's!
     Just remember, live in the moment and don't spend too much time writing in this.  Do take lots of pictures though. The goofiest ones you can think of.
     I love you both so much. Don't miss me too much! Enjoy your time together because 20 years is definitely worth celebrating.  Dad, try not to annoy mommy too much!
PS - Bring me back a cute British boy!

Melissa's letter was the most wonderful surprise! We may have been worlds away, but her words brought me closer to her charming spirit than she'll ever know.

Reading those words, I knew there would be no need to worry. My beautiful daughter, so full of of wisdom beyond her years, would be just fine.

And so would I.

Bob and me in front of the famous Tower Bridge in London! Our vacation was better than I could have imagined, because I spent it with my best friend and love of my life!  Happy 20 anniversary Bob!!

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