Thursday, March 22, 2018

"No bell, book, or candle..."

"...can get you out of this, oh no!" (John Lennon, "Scared," 1974)

I had a nice day today.

For one thing, Austin is great for about 6 weeks in the spring --- mid-March through end of April usually features temps in the 70s during the day and lows in the 40s at night: perfect, as far as I'm concerned. (May through September, on the other hand, is a constant muggy mess, with temperatures in the 90s--May, June, September--or 100s--July and August--by day, and no breezes at night to alleviate the tedious heat. By May, the AC comes on and stays on for a solid 5 months--no outside fresh air in the home.)

TCM is featuring Joan Crawford movies for over 12 hours on Friday, her birthday. In her honor, I requested the day off from work. At a perfect time: After 5 months of constant busy-ness and weekly overtime since October, there's a brief lull... I finally feel comfortable taking some time off. Thursday, as well as Joan Friday.

Aside from a lot of work to do, I also, honestly, hadn't had any particular place to go or people to see, which is what I'd always associated with "vacation." I finally figured out that sometimes people need time off and space just to do "basic" things. Like getting my car washed, for instance. I've had my car for over 2 years now, and have only washed it once (relying on the rain to clean it the rest of the time, I suppose). That one time, I did it myself after collecting $5 in quarters for weeks.

Lately, it had been bugging me for weeks/months that goop had collected on my car roof, and in the cup-holders, and that the driver's side of the floorboard was full of grit. It had also been bothering me that, months ago, a bought a new windshield wiper--only for the driver's side! Not occurring to me at the time that the passenger-side wiper indeed swiped over on the driver's side, and that if I didn't have BOTH wipers swiping properly, driving during rain was going to be a mess. (When I'd bought the first wiper months ago, the guy at the auto-parts store was dismissive of me, and I couldn't figure out how to hook it up properly, finally relying on a kind guy from work to do it for me.)

Today, Thursday, I slept in and woke up, invigorated, with the knowledge that it was nothing but Car Day! First task: Go back to the same auto-parts store and get the passenger-side wiper! Unlike during the first purchase, this man was courteous and helpful and asked ME, "Would you like me to put that on for you?" (Oh my god, yes I WOULD! Thank you!)

I then decided to splurge for a professional cleaning of my car, rather than doing it myself. (I only had $3 in quarters, and last time I'd tried to wash, the machine wouldn't give me change for my dollar bills)... $29.99, which included exterior, interior vacuuming, dash wiping, etc. I'd never had this done before on any car, so the process was interesting to find out about. (The Genie car wash where I went has an indoor area with windows where you watch your car go through the wash; before, guys vacuum, and after, guys clean your dash, console, etc.)

The result: Not worth $30! The cup-holders and spaces between the seats still had some ashes; there was still some gunk on the roof. At Genie, at the end, I pointed out the ashes, and they politely had someone re-vacuum. I didn't notice the "gunk" 'til I was driving around later; when I got home, I took a roll of paper towels and some window cleaner and wiped it off. I won't pay for this again, but I'm still glad I did it, just to find out about the process. (Next time, I'll just make sure I have enough quarters and do the job myself! I thought paying $30 would grant me something beyond what I could accomplish myself!)

Post-car cleaning, my official Task for the Day was done, and I then cruised around the 'hood in my fresh-smelling car visiting random places that I haven't had time to visit in months:

At the Dollar Store: I bought cheap Woolite substitute and other soap products. Only one register open, line of 6 or so. Black girl at the counter explaining loudly (could be heard all across the store) to all customers that she didn't see why people expected her to both ring up items AND bag them. (Thankfully, by the time I'd shopped and gotten to the register, another woman was in charge. She had no "thank you" or anything.)

At the Savers: I bought a candle dish. At the register area, one other man was standing around --- no open registers in sight. I spied a black woman walking to and fro with a young man, seemingly training him about things. After the man and I had been standing there for a while, I finally approached the woman/trainee: "Are any checkouts open?" That shook her out of whatever lethargy. Neither she nor her trainee looked at me during my $2.99 checkout, and certainly didn't have any paper to wrap my glass dish in.

At the "Now and Then" Episcopalian consignment store: I found a bell, tra-la-la. The 80-year-old white lady behind the counter was busy talking with a customer for a very long time. (Same customer who had asked me a half-hour earlier: "Did you hide that?" when I had said "excuse me" to him while in front of the picture frames). I finally had to ask another 80-year-old behind the counter: "Is this where I check out, or...?" This time, though, my purchase was wrapped very thoroughly.

The above all sounds very mundane, but the difference to me was: I had the time and space to wander around doing all of this stuff without getting greatly irritated by other people's foibles. The Dollar Store and Savers and church consignment store were all exactly as I'd experienced them when visiting them in months/years past. The first two have ALWAYS had crappy, random employees who don't have any concept of customer relations; the latter has ALWAYS had slow-pokey, snobbish old people. Sometimes I wonder if it's "just me." Nah. I'm learning that I'm often quite correct in my impressions to begin with! :)

Rest of the day: Visits to two furniture consignment shops (no $100 chairs or $40 side tables that I'd wanted), and then to McAllister's deli (where service was slow, as usual). Then to the liquor store to buy some 100-proof Smirnoff in honor of Joan's birthday tomorrow. (The 60-something owner refused to engage in any conversation about Joan's birthday.) Then a nap in the springtime afternoon --- Austin smells good in the spring; nothing woke me up until I woke up naturally.

This evening watching on TCM: Sunset Boulevard, Gone With the Wind (now on as I write), Casablanca...

And then tomorrow: Joan Crawford for 12 hours! :)

A good day!


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