Naughty by Nature-al Instinct

naughty by nature

Where it all went down

You down with O.P.P.? That last P has stood for many things, raising a debate about the actual meaning of the popular 90’s hip hop song. I’m going to try to decipher the true meaning in relation to my own experiences.

Summer 2004. I was working in a drugstore in the swanky Rittenhouse area of Philadelphia. The store was attached to a popular hotel, and our stockrooms were shared common spaces with hotel staff. From the moment I started my shift, I knew it was going to be “one of those days”.

Since it was centered in a prime tourist spot, Saturdays were always busy. It wasn’t uncommon for us to have six registers open with lines of 3 people deep. The store had a separate “One Hour Photo” center, where we kept many of our high dollar items (electric razors, appliances, etc.). I was scheduled to be the closing manager, again not uncommon, as I was a full time college student and weekends were fair game.

The first incident occurred after the rest of the management staff had left for the day. It was early afternoon and busy was as usual, until I noticed a shady looking fellow hovering around the photo area. I did as I was trained, and asked him if he needed any assistance. He politely declined and I continued about my business. Next thing I know, the fire alarm is ringing.

 

This too wasn’t all that uncommon, especially being attached to a hotel. It seems like a guest was always burning something in the provided kitchenette. So, as I was rallying up the employees and the customers to promptly evacuate the store as per protocol, I noticed the same shady fellow cleaning out the high dollar items behind the photo counter. I also noticed his friend standing by the fire alarm. The guys swept the photo center and took off, long before the cops or fire department arrived.

Oh well. Write up the report and move on. The fire department cleared us to reopen and we went about our day, resuming business as usual. It was early evening when the next incident occurred. I caught a young boy, probably about 12 or so, stuffing his shirt with DVD’s. I stopped him at the door and asked him to return them. He told me I better leave him alone.

“Give me back my merchandise. Those DVD’s aren’t yours,” I said.

He pushed me out of the way and gave a cue to his friends, waiting outside. Unfortunately for me, his friends were the shady characters from earlier. They drug me onto the busy sidewalk, (where no one stopped, by the way). I kicked at them, and I heard one say: “Get her into the alley.”

Oh hell no. I watch too much SVU to know what happens in alleyways. I struggled against them and broke free of their hold. As I turned to run back into the store, my face was met with a fist. I stumbled back into the lobby of the store, where my body gave in and collapsed. I was out for a few seconds, and when I got up, I found a group of people hovered around me.

“I’m sorry everyone! Please go about your day and thank you for shopping here,” I said.

I was helped up by a 17 year old cashier named Mary. She helped me to the office.

“I didn’t know you were such a big fan,” she said.

“Fan? What are you talking about?” I asked.

I was pretty dazed but I was sure she was the one not making sense.

“Didn’t you just faint because you saw the guys from Naughty by Nature?”

“What?”

Apparently, while everything was occurring outside the store, two of the members of the 90’s hip hop group were busy buying antacids and candy inside the store.

“So, I got jumped by some thugs and Naughty by Nature just stood by?” I asked.

“You got jumped?” Mary was truly surprised.

After several years of reflecting on the situation, I realize now that O.P.P. obviously stands for Other People’s Punches. Even in a potentially violent situation, the universe still finds a way to throw a curveball at me to make me laugh in the end. So, No. I am not down with O.P.P and am not part of the whole party.

Extra Securi-Tea

You always hear about people who can’t function until they’ve had their morning coffee. I’m one of them. I don’t take the extreme of “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee”, but I need at least a sip before I can process anything major. As a mom, I’m pretty used to drinking a majority of my coffee cold, and not on purpose. It seems like as soon as I sit down to enjoy that first cup, someone yells to get out of their crib.

Regardless of all the coffee interference I experience in the morning, I’m still pretty serious about my coffee. Most avid coffee drinkers are. But what about tea? You never really hear anyone say “YouLipton Tea don’t want to be around me until I’ve had my tea.” There are no Garfield cartoons depicting him with a cup of tea and a disdain for mornings, likewise there are no internet memes about needing tea.

Coffee drinkers are always depicted as more violent and disturbed, should you take away their coffee. Tea drinkers seem more relaxed, calm, and much more willing to talk things out over a nice hot beverage.

We’ve been drinking a lot more tea in my house lately, mostly thanks to some head congestion and sore throats, and I had to purchase a new box the other day. Nothing fancy, just plain old Lipton regular tea.

s what I thought. Upon further inspection, I realized that this box of Lipton tea came with a unique new feature that could only be indicative of the secret subculture of tea drinkers.

 

 

Tea Lockbox

Yes that’s right. This tea comes with a secure lockbox. For securing your tea. In case it wasn’t secure.

I feel an overwhelming amount of security knowing that should someone break into my house, my tea is safely stored in a lockbox. Take my TV, jewelry, money, but don’t you dare touch my tea.

Obviously Lipton had to get feedback from their customers regarding this need for more tea security. This leads me to conclude that tea drinkers are not as sane as we might have previously regarded them. I may be a bit cranky without my coffee, but I’m not the least bit concerned about the safety and protection of my hot beverage of choice.

 

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A “Load”-ed Question

I’ve been doing laundry for a lot of years. I really don’t find it to be a big deal.  Believe it or not, despite my OCD issues, I don’t do any kind of sorting. Everything just goes in the machine until it’s full and then I throw in some detergent, wash it on cold and call it a day.

My current washing machine was purchased for $50 in 2007 when Wally worked for Lowe’s. It still works great and has traveled through more states then some people ever will. It’s a trusty little thing, and hopefully (knock on this cheap Asian material my desk is made out of) it will last a little longer.

In our new house, it hasn’t been relegated to the basement, or stuck in some dingy corner of the house that no one wants to go in. It’s in a cute little laundry nook off the kitchen. Since she ran out of space on the fridge, Rory likes to decorate it with magnets. It’s just another part of the décor.

Usually, I never have to adjust the “Load Size” dial. I’ve actually never thought about it much.  The laundry basket is pretty much a “large load” and when it’s full I do laundry. The machine has load size setting that range from small to super.

It wasn’t until the other day, after washing a few of the couch pillows and something of Kendrick’s that I really had to adjust the setting. I filled the basin and threw in my detergent and as my hand began to turn the dial from “small”, I panicked.

I was pretty sure the amount of clothing I had in there constituted a large load. But then I noticed all these little lines between the size options. That’s right, there’s not just small, medium, large, extra-large, and super. There’s large, line line line line line, extra-large, line line line line line. You see where this is headed. Like a speedometer, there are individual gauges between the base settings.

load size

When exactly do you decide that it may be a hair above large? I mean even somewhere between large and extra-large is plausible, but two notches under that? I mean, if I add a sock do I turn the dial to the next line? How many lines do I add for a shirt?

I wasn’t feeling confident in my decision of just plain “Large” anymore. It was like I had just discovered a whole new world of possibilities. My goal is to get just to the line before “super”. I’m not sure I want to pass into the world of Super Laundry. I feel like that’s when Rainbows, and unicorns and bubbles start spewing from the machine and out pops that “Big Gay Al” character from South Park. “Super, thanks for askin’.”

I clicked the dial to what appeared to me to be a notch and a half above “large”. Better over-estimate right? What was that question that owl always asked?

How many socks does it take to get to the center of the next line? The world may never know.

Push Button for Stick Figure Dancing the Lawnmower

Nothing like waking up on a Sunday morning, desperate for a cup of coffee, only to realize you’re completely out of half and half, which by the way is not comprised of half of anything mixed with half of anything else, but that’s a story for another time. You could use milk, but it’s just not the same, and you really want that good fresh cup.

Cue my Sunday. Luckily, there isn’t anything in Richmond that isn’t within walking distance, like the convenience store at the end of my block. Despite the snow and wind, I put on my boots and bundled up, throwing a hat over my bed head. I was glad I slept in basic black pants that hid the fact that I was still technically in my pajamas. I started down the sidewalk in search of the Holy Grail in the form of a paper pint container.

The store is on the opposite side of the street and diagonal from my house, requiring me to cross two streets to get to it. No problem, right? Not necessarily. I get to the corner and see the sign that directs me to “push button for walk signal”.

 

push to walk

I stare at the black circular button in the center of a yellow box in the middle of the pole. I think, “Really?” I look at the cars stopped at the traffic light, making eye contact with their drivers, trying to determine if they are waiting for my inevitable decision.

If I don’t press the button, will the light never change? Will it change quicker if I press the button? Does the performance of the traffic light even rely on the button at all? I mean, who am I that I have been granted such power? Traffic control at the simple push of a button.

None of that is accurate. The button just triggers the red hand graphic across the street to change to an obviously racist (I mean why are all the people white?) depiction of a person walking when appropriate. That’s what it really does, right?

I’m still not convinced. I truly believe it’s some kind of hidden camera social experiment to see how many people fall for the button concept, thinking it has some bearing on anything at all. Think of it as the twist in the next M. Night Shyamalan film. For 90 to a hundred minutes you spend thinking traffic is moving steadily and the light is changing at a predetermined time. A pedestrian approaches, pushes the button, and the camera pulls back to see a group of scientists on another planet recording how many people push the button.

Not me. I’m not falling for it. I really really really like to follow directions, but I also don’t like to be the punch line to another person’s joke. As I stand on the corner of 5th and Main, the Village Pantry sign looming not so far in the distance, my creamy grand prize so close, I find myself at the intersection of my own personal anxieties vs. the socio-morality of basic human existence. To press or not to press….That is the question.

I Asked Santa for a Doll, But Got A Baby Instead!

 

Richmond, Indiana. December 2013.

Despite the chilly temperatures, Wally and I decided to take the kids to meet Santa and see what this “Old Fashioned Christmas” that I kept seeing advertised was actually like. We bundled up and headed down to the Historic Depot District of town, where we were greeted with lights, a horse drawn carriage, a snowman on a Segway, some people on stilts, carolers, and the local radio station.

I wasn’t too keen on taking my 4 month old son out in the winter weather, but I also didn’t want to deprive my 2 year old daughter of some holiday fun. I did what any over-protective mother would do. I carefully placed my son in his Boba Wrap against my chest, where he was cozy and warm. I put a replica Santa hat (obviously the real one belongs to the Big Guy) on his little head to keep it warm, and then I put my coat on over both of us and buttoned it in the front. You actually wouldn’t know I was carrying a baby at all.

The furniture gallery housed the always popular Mr. And Mrs. Claus, but before making our way inside, we stopped to see the ice carvings and live reindeer. Rory was having a blast.

We finally decided to seek some warmth and headed towards the building. Once inside, nestled amongst the dining room sets and cozy sofa sets, a Christmas Wonderland awaited us. Festivities as far as the eye could see! Two floors to be exact.

We decided to check out the second level, and even though nothing seemed more fun then walking a two year old up a narrow set of stairs at a speed of half a mile per hour, we took the elevator. It was a freight elevator, (we were in a furniture gallery, after all) and had to be operated by an employee of the store.

It had become warm, and I didn’t want the baby to get too warm, so I had unbuttoned my coat and exposed him, wrapped up tightly against my belly. As the elevator starts moving, another patron looks over at me.

“Oh my gosh! Is that a real baby?”

Thankfully, I have been blessed with a filter, probably a result of my ten plus years in customer service, that springs into action when asked a dumb question. Like a computer firewall, the filter blocks whatever I’m really thinking, and instead grants me the ability to respond politely.

I smiled and said: “Yep. He’s real.” As if there was any other response.

“He’s so cute. I thought he was a doll.” the lady said.

I thanked her and the elevator came to a stop. We departed the box of doom and each went our separate ways. There was something I just couldn’t get out of my head though.

“Why would I be carrying a doll around like this?” I asked Wally.

I really couldn’t come to terms with concept of finding an acceptable one of Rory’s dolls, putting clothes on it (since all of hers are naked), and then going through the process of wrapping it up, bundling it up, and then taking it to a Christmas event.

I guess I haven’t watched enough My Strange Addiction. Even when I did see the one on people who treat dolls like children, I still couldn’t really understand what I was looking at. I guess it’s a compliment that my son can pass for a perfect doll, but I also thought it meant I looked crazy enough to be one of “those” people.

Maybe Ill try walking around with a doll. I’d like to see how many people stop and tell me it looks real. I’ll let you know.

 

The Cupcake that Confused the Clerk

I didn’t expect to find it at the local Kroger, but there it was. A delectable chocolate confection wrapped in a cozy paper liner and topped with mint frosting. A half of a cookie was inserted into the top of the swirled green sweetness. It wasn’t typical supermarket cupcakery. I had to have it.

The bakery clerk packaged it up perfectly and I placed it in my cart. Throughout the rest of my shopping trip, I stared at the magnificence, eagerly awaiting the moment when I could surprise Rory with it.

Finally arriving at the checkout lane, I placed all my items onto the belt and smiled politely at the cashier. He was a young male, probably no more than sixteen, and he conversed with the similarly aged bagging clerk.

When the cupcake made it to the end of the belt, he picked it up and put it near the UPC scanner. “Wow, this looks awesome.”

“It does, doesn’t it?” I replied.

“I wouldn’t pay $1.20 for one cupcake though.”

For those of us in who partake in the gourmet cupcake subculture, we know a dollar twenty isn’t super expensive. “You have to treat yourself sometimes, though. Right?” I smiled as he stared at the cupcake.

Do I offer to buy him one? The amount of time between the cupcake reaching the end of the belt to it being placed in the bagging area became awkwardly long. I was starting to get uncomfortable.

“What do you want me to do with this?” he asked.

His question stunned me. I hadn’t considered any possibilities other than putting it in a bag. I felt like he was putting me on the spot, and my mind started racing. “I think I want you to put it in a bag.”

He stared at me.

“By itself?”

Another impossible question. I felt my palms get sweaty and my chest get heavy. How can I pass this test? If I answer incorrectly, do I lose cupcake buying privileges at Kroger? The cupcakes at Marsh paled in comparison. I couldn’t rely on just them to satisfy my sweet tooth. “Sure.” I tried to answer nonchalantly. I didn’t want him to see my lack of confidence in my answer.

He handed it to the other clerk who grabbed a separate plastic bag and put the cupcake in it. Alone.

Had I passed? I don’t know, because I’ve been afraid to buy another cupcake since then. Wonder what they’d do if I bought a whole cake?

Welcome!

Thanks for checking out Everyday Ordinary. This is a new blog I’m launching, and will work in conjunction with Everyday Ordinary, Pure Comedy, my current project of a collection of linked short stories. This blog will address the non-fiction inspiration of each story.

Sounds, boring right? Well, that’s just the technical purpose of this page. It’s true purpose is for you to enjoy reading about a typical day in the life of someone who seeks to find the humor in all things.

My goal is that you will come here when you’re having a not so awesome day, and by the time you finish reading you will have laughed and realized not to take life so seriously. Because the universe has a hell of a sense of humor, and it’s dead set on making you the punchline.

Enjoy!

-N

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