Mar 26, 2010


What do y'all do when the world constantly thinks that you are just one big fat pushover? You know what I mean. A stooge. A milquetoast that wouldn't speak up if her hair were on fire. A timid, quiet, mousy little person who won't mind waiting for/foregoing/passing up on something that somebody with a bigger mouth or more pressing need wants/needs/does.

I wish I could tell you where it all started, but the last few days have been one "Here, please bend over so that I can chooch the pooch" experience after another. If it wasn't my fancypants glasses needing repair and the fancypants boutique owner telling me that "they're supposed to look like that", it was the fishmonger throwing $30 with of halibut in a bag and saying "'s freezer wrapped." (Sadly, it wasn't.) I spent the morning at Aunt Chrissy's house because I was supposed to get a new roof today and I didn't want Stewey to have to go batshit every time he heard a noise outside, but apparently the roofer decided that somebody else was more important than the testy spinster who has been waiting since last August for the guy to bother to show up. I am, in short, the Rodney Dangerfield of Spinster Lane.

When I moved to New Jersey, I made the mistake of stopping for my very first bagel and coffee without one damn clue how to do so. The place that was on the way to work was very very busy, so after standing in line for about 15 minutes it was my turn at the counter.

"Whadda ya want?", said the big burly guy behind the counter.

"Oh, well, hello and good morning! I've just moved here from Indiana and I've never been in your nice little establishment here before, so I thought I'd try one of your....."

"Lady, if you don't know what you're doing, go sit over there and figure it out so that I can wait on everybody in line behind you that does. NEXT!"

I skulked out of there and never went back because I had just been told that I was too stupid to order a bagel and a coffee.

So when I went to the next place I got my act together and memorized my order precisely. I was just getting ready to squeak it out when a woman barged right back up to the counter and said "TONY! I TOLD YOU I DIDN'T WANT SESAME SEEDS AND YOU GAVE ME SESAME SEEDS! YOU DID THIS TO ME YESTERDAY, PAL, AND I'M NOT LEAVING UNTIL YOU GIVE ME THE POPPY SEEDS THAT I ASKED FOR. GOT IT?"

Tony smiled sheepishly, took the bag with the offending sesame seed bagel in it and said "Sorry, Loretta. Here's your poppy seed. You have a nice day now."

I was stunned.

Here was someone who had asked for something, and when she didn't get it, she spoke up. And, more importantly, the floor didn't open up beneath her feet and suck her down to hell in one fell swoop. She spoke up and she got her bagel.

It occurs to me that what I'm doing is giving off a vibe that says "Oh, please don't respect me or listen to what I have to say or what I want. I'll just stand here quietly and take whatever you give me and I'll be happy about it. " And, if you happen to be a waiter or waitress... this is your lucky day. Because I'm one of those schmucks who will leave you a 40% tip if I'm so bold enough to ask for something a clean knife. Or a glass that doesn't have bleach in it.

Damn. Where the heck did I get this from? It certainly wasn't from Dad, since I know that he could tell somebody to go to hell and they'd look forward to the trip. And as for it coming from Mom...well, let me tell you that there is a Mrs. La-Z-Boy who will attest to Siggie's firm determination to be the recipient of good customer service. Here's the story:

When we moved into our Lima house, Mom bought two chairs for the family room. Dad's arrived and was wrong. The fabric was flawed, the mechanism was bad, and it was, in short, a lemon. Mom sent it back. About four times. The fifth time, the salesman was standing in the family room arguing with Mom, and when he said "Lady, I don't know what your problem is. We've sent you five different chairs now and you're not happy with any of them", Mom said "'ve sent me the same chair five times hoping that I won't notice it."

Here's where he made his tragic mistake. "Oh, come on, lady. This is a brand new chair. We at La-Z-Boy would never do such a thing."

With that, Mom flipped the chair over and pointed at her black magic-markered signature written across the bottom of the wood frame.

"See that, fella? That's my signature. And I'll have you know that you've been delivering that signature back to me for about six months now. So if you'll excuse me, I think it's time for me to take this little complaint of mine to the next level. Good day."

Mom packed that chair up and had it delivered to the home of the biggest muckety muck she could find at La-Z-Boy. On it she taped a note that said "Dear Mrs. La-Z-Boy. If you'd have this chair sit in YOUR living room, you're welcome to it. It will not sit in mine."

We got a new chair two days later. And there wasn't one thing wrong with it.

So why can't I just strap on a big fat pair of Mom b-lls and get on with it? I'm not talking about being mean or rude or nasty or unreasonable. I'm talking about speaking up when somebody out there has done me wrong and I'm not feeling particularly compelled to thank them for it.

Stewey wanted me to thank y'all for your concern over these birds of his. We've discovered that they are chickadees. All Stewey wants to know is how something with such a cute little name could be so ridiculously vicious.

That's the Friday rant, kids! I hope that whatever you do this weekend is exactly what you want to do and that if somebody doesn't treat you swell, you'll think of me. And speak up.


  1. {insert picture of me standing and clapping}

    Happy weekend!

  2. Damn girl! That was just what my epic fail of a day needed. God Bless you.

  3. let me specify {standing clapping for your mom} I never have the guts to say anything like that either. Wish I did. I always say "If I had half a mind I'd go over there and _____________." My husband always tells me that if I ever find my other half a mind I'll be really dangerous :)

  4. Maybe the b*lls skip a generation? Or maybe there is hope for (us) yet and they will develop over time?

    Have a great weekend and I hope the birds stop pestering poor Stewey he would look odd with a bald spot back there!

  5. I just started reading your blog and love it. I've been lurking, but I just had to say -- hey, I'm exactly the same way! And the worst part is that I know my son is the same way too and I wish I could teach him not to be that way. And teach me too! That story about your mom is fantastic! We can try to stand up for ourselves together! :D

  6. Sometimes you just gotta pull up your socks. You can do it!

  7. Coni, you just have to take baby steps toward growing a pair. You are right that you don't have to be rude or mean or unreasonable. But you do have a right to get what you want/need/have paid for. Your mom was a very smart cookie indeed! You have it in you....

  8. I feel your pain... I have a sign on my desk at work...BOHICA....Bend Over, Here It Comes Again.....
    Somehow, when I get the courage to speakup, I become the bad person, the b**ch, and I end up returning to my desk, or house, or seat at a table with my head down...
    Why is that???????????? And I hear, Oh, she used to be so nice, now she's not.......does NICE have to mean you 'settle' or don't get your rightful part????

    I spoke up at work one day...the boss told me since I seemed stressed I might want to get some counseling......I would have smacked him if I had the courage. At least then I would have had a reason for counseling!

    I love your blog...keep writing!

    I hope the roofer does a great job...if it was me, I'd have a fit at him, and he'd screw up and charge me.........yeah, so I just keep my mouth shut and take it.

    Good luck...

  9. I don't think you lived in Jersey long enough. Move back. I'll teach you how to order a bagel and coffee "regular"! And just remember this....NOBODY LIKES THAT POPPY SEED LADY!
    Have a fabulous weekend and screw the know what I mean. PS - Tell Stewey I am cracking up. A CHICKADEE?!

  10. Coni - I think women find their b*lls at 55. At least that's when mine happened to show up. Now at 60, I'm the raving poppy-seed lady---and GAWD it feels really good. Hang in there, you'll find yours.

  11. All I can say is that I hope Pamela is right. I, like Coni, hate to make a fuss. It is getting slightly easier as I get older. But not fast enough.

  12. I hate to make a fuss but as I've gotten older I've learned that it's possible to speak up for myself without being rude and nasty (both of which the poppy seed lady was, IMHO). Like Alice said, baby steps. Start with two words: "Not acceptable." You can vary it: "That's not acceptable" or "I'm sorry but that's not acceptable"; variations on a theme. You go, girl -- you can do it!

  13. Chicadees! I had them all over my yard and never saw this behavior. Maybe it is because I also didn't have coyotes in the yard. Perhaps the coyotes are responsible for causing the chickadees to become stressed and nibble dogs behinds. Oh my, that does sound bad.

    Growing up, I was taught it was rude to stand up for yourself as it was equated with the dreaded 'making a scene'. I think this has pissed me off for years. I automatically defer and say oh, that's ok, without thinking because it is so ingrained. And then I want to kick myself. There is a differance between being nice and being a doormat. I have been working on this standing up for myself stuff. I have to remember not to go clear to the other side of the pendulum and yell or trip someone instead, though. I am very passive/agressive. I usually just pee on someone's drapes.

    I do hope you are laughing! Have a great weekend. And go back to that butcher and ask for freezer paper for your fish.

  14. I have to say I had to develop my self-defense skills. So I assure you, Coni, you can do it too! The first time was not too long ago, I bought some shirts and there was one extra in the bag. So I spent 2 days thinking I should go there and get my money back - not credit at the store, my M-O-N-E-Y. It was a hell of a Sunday, waiting for Monday to come and wondering all the horrible things that would happen if I went to the store. I had so many possibilities for that scene in my head that I was ready for anything. Turns out that I was so clear about what I wanted that they just did what I asked! Since then I've been practicing tons of scenes like that in my head - specially when someone tells me a story like yours - so that my b-lls started growing! I have not been in that kind of problem since then. Try that yourself and tell us about it! Maybe Stewey could help you with that, it would be a fun game! :)

  15. I have known at least one person in my life who would say "Well, we can't go there anymore" after speaking his mind. He was an older man and the step-dad of an old boyfriend. I just love people who are like that!

    I can speak my mind and do when absolutely necessary. I think it's just the way kids are raised today that we tend not to speak up as much. The younger people seem to be looking for a fight in the one hand or a door mat in the other.

    And with the customer service thingy, when I was in customer service not that long ago (the mid to late 1980s) as a teen, I was more than respectful to my customers. I noticed customer service skills lacking not even 10 years later as kids younger than me were becoming ruder. And I now find myself saying, "Well, we can't go there anymore!" LOL

    What really gets me more than anything is when a male person tells me all about engines and I have to turn and say, "You don't need to know what the engine size is for this part. I am a diesel mechanic and do know SOMETHING about engines." Then I leave.

    Have a great weekend and don't let the mean nasties get to ya too much.

  16. All I can offer is: people are stupid, the masses are asses. That's what my sister and I say when we have to verbally bitch slap someone into doing what they should. You tell 'em, Coni.

  17. Great post! I'm still laughing about mom b_lls!

  18. Coni, I know just how reluctant we can sometimes be to speak up. I once had a dreadful haircut from a new hairdresser I went to, who did my hair how she wanted it, and not how I asked. She even gave me a side parting which does not suit me at all. What did I do? I said thank you and even gave a her a tip!! I'm beginning to learn though and have cancelled my next appointment with my current stylist as she was definitely losing the plot, so now I have to find yet another hairdresser in this one horse town.

  19. Give 'em hell Coni! Channel your inner Gordan Ramsey and set a few people straight but then watch them like a hawk so you don't get spit in your soup, so to speak. You can do it!!!

  20. Oh my gosh, chickadee-dee-dees! The official bird of my grand state of Maine! They are quite brazen little things and land at our feeder while we are filling it. Very hardy and sprightly little things. Stewey needs to put them in their place.

    Coni, your Mom was quite the woman. Wish I had half the nerve. What a brilliant idea, to sign her name on the chair! Maybe that gene skips a generation...

  21. I was wondering if they were chickadees Coni...I had them land on my head and do the same thing after I got a perm once. My husband was laughing hysterically, and I was just hoping it would get off before it pooped on my head. I stopped getting perms after that...

    As for standing up for myself, I am getting better at it. I always am apologetic though...

    "I`m so sorry you were having a bad day and were bitchy to me and gave me the wrong coffee three times"....

  22. Is there a class we could take? A correspondance course perhaps?

    You're not alone, not that that is much comfort.

  23. I love your blog so, I just gave you the sunshine award you can check it out on my blog

    Hope this brings Spring on for good!

  24. It can be very hard to stand up for yourself, especially to strangers. I also have a hard time doing so and wish I didn't. You are not alone!

  25. Alas Coni, I'm like you. I have "SUCKER" etched into my forehead!
    Love to Stewey, from Karen in Australia.

  26. Great post, Coni!!

    Sorry about the chickadees... poor little Stewey, getting picked on by wee little birds less than half his size, lol! Did you look around to see if there's a nest? They get pretty aggressive in defense of their eggs.

    The story about your mom and the chair is AWESOME! A perfect perfect perfect way to handle that situation.

    Good luck with the roofer!! Wishing iron cajones in your direction!

  27. Congrats on your listing in the new issue of Quilter's Home magazine! I discovered your blog through that article, and I now have a new favorite! Keep writing - you're fantastic.

  28. OMG, I love the story about your mom, good for her.

    Just remember you can be firm and ask for what you want without being rude ;-).

  29. Oh girl, the stories I could tell you. When I was in high school, I worked for a drug store whose one key rule was that no matter what you are doing, you drop everything if you see a customer and ask them if you can help them find something. I had little old biddies who would put a basket on my arm and make me follow them around the store--and I had to do it with a smile. Fast forward a few (cough) decades later, and I'm living in a place where the cead mile failte doesn't extend to customers. I constantly rant about it. I had my daughter go back into a store where a clerk was so rude that she came out of the store crying. Upon my advice, she asked for the manager, explained the situation, told her that during a recession it isn't good customer service for people to be rude. The manager said, "Oh, our store won't be hurt by the recession.". It drives me insane. Your mom sounds like a character. I had a similar problem and after going round and round with the furniture store, a neighbor told me to threaten to call talk radio about it. I did that, to the chagrin of my husband, and had a carpenter installing the wardrobes at my house at 8 am the next morning. The store's revenge: the carpenter was so rank with body odor that I had to open all the windows for 24 hours after he left.