This Week’s Headlines

Newspaper Headline

This week’s household headlines:

“’Hopping around is so much fun – when you’re naked’, Agree Toddler Boys Everywhere.”

“Negligent Mother Makes Children Wait Until She Finishes Her Lunch Before Fixing Them Their Third Lunch. Authorities Launch Investigation.”

“Toddler Places Open Mouth on Meat Counter at Publix Three Times – Then Acts Shocked At Mother’s Screams About Botulism.”

“Breaking: Ice Machines Are Not For Swinging On, Kicking, Or Sticking One’s Head Into.”

“You Won’t Believe What’s in My Underwear, Mommy.”

“CDC Study Recommends: To Prevent Spread of Uncomfortable Car Rides, All Poop Should be Deposited in Toilets.”

“Sister Wives Not Looking Like Such A Bad Idea, Agree Exhausted Mothers.”

“‘Hey Mommy Can You Pick Up The Very Important Thing I Dropped?’ ‘NO I’M DRIVING’ – Why Does This Conversation Happen On Every Car Ride? Mothers Need To Know.”

“Young Boy Hits Head on the Toilet Seat…While Sitting on the Toilet Seat. Proclaimed To Be The Most Talented Child Alive.”

“’If you can’t obey Mommy, you can’t have nice things.’, Local Mother Teaches.”

“Studies Show that Grated Cheese Is More Tasty When Poured on a Plate and Eaten Like Cat Food. Even If That Cheese Was Supposed to Go Into Dinner That Night.”

Toddler’s Own Meme Gets Used by Random Guy to Pick Up Random Girl. Toddler Hopes It Worked Out For Him.”

Noah Memed

“This Toddler Got Mad at His Mother. What Happened Next Will Blow Your Mind!”

“’One more minute until bedtime’ Met With Cheers, then ‘Okay it’s bedtime’ Met With Jeers. Every Time.”

“Surveys Show That Children Must Lean Their Head Back to Get Shampoo Rinsed During Each Bath, Yet Children are Curiously Still Surprised By This During Each Bath.”

“Children Trash House With Play-Doh While Their Mother is at the Store Buying…More Play-Doh. Mother Regrets Actions.”

PlayDoh

“Children’s Gummy Vitamins Found Only Acceptable When Favorite Color AND Shape Line Up. If Not, Proclaimed To Be Terrible.”

“Physical Therapy Clinics Found To Be An Ideal Location to Trip Old People, Report One Panel of Expert Children.”

What were the headlines in your house this week?

Cherries, Take Me Away.

My life has been the definition of “train wreck” lately.

Nothing devastating or life-changing – no worries. Just a constant onslaught of sicknesses and injuries and roadblocks and traumatic doctor visits.

The upside is, they often make good blog posts.

Y’all have read about some of them, but I haven’t written about a lot of things because I have a rule for myself – never write about something until you’re on the other side of it – otherwise, it comes out whiny.

And nobody likes to read whiny.

(A rule I clearly broke with my Printing Woes. But hopefully Sukhad added the humor back in for me.)

Anyway. One very special blog reader, Melissa, from Prosser Washington, picked up on the undertones of my rather unpleasant start to 2015. And she commented after this post that she was going to send me some chocolates, thereby solidifying her spot as my Best Friend Forever [That I Probably Won’t Ever Get to Meet].

Because by chocolates, I knew she meant Chukar Cherries.

I knew this because she had sent them to me once before. AND THEY CHANGED MY LIFE.

They’re made in her hometown, and they’re basically the most luxurious chocolate-covered dried fruits and nuts ever concocted. All the combinations are divine, and the flavors they put together are the essence of chocolate fantasies. The last box she sent me contained eighteen different varieties of heaven dipped in chocolate.

After receiving them last time, I also started getting the catalogs. And with each one, I nearly ordered myself another box (to hide from the children and eat embarrassingly fast), but always somehow intervened before I delved into what was sure to become a serious addiction problem.

So when the Melissa mentioned a box of chocolates, I was pretty intensely elated.

The hope of those chocolates carried me through finishing my Kid’s Market preparation.

They carried me through recovering from a sinus infection.

They carried me through the mothering of sick children, blowing their noses on my pants, wiping their boogers down into my shirt, and hacking all night long.

They carried me through falling while running and injuring, bruising, or scraping every joint on my body, and the resulting physical therapy.

I knew that Washington is a long way away and it would probably take a good bit for them to arrive, but the hope of chocolate covered cherries and berries and pecans and hazelnuts in eighteen different varieties carried me through.

Until I got an email from UPS, telling me that they needed to let me know that a package headed to me from Chukar Cherries had a slight problem.

Slight.

Chukar UPS Delay

WHAT. THE WHAT.

MY CHOCOLATE WAS IN A TRAIN WRECK.

I read that email three times, and then contracted an unstoppable case of the giggles. If there was anything more fitting for my life at that juncture, I could not possibly imagine it. The chocolate I was receiving because my life was a train wreck got caught up in an actual train wreck and I’m pretty sure the space-time continuum folded in on itself.

I started checking the UPS status of my cherries, waiting to see when they would resurface, imagining a UPS worker walking along the side of a train track, plucking chocolate covered cherries out of the grass and placing them, carefully sorted, back in my trays.

Every morning, I checked. Every morning, nothing had changed. Every morning, I assumed my chocolates had been eaten by the roadside chickens and cows before they could be collected and repackaged.

(Because there are totally roadside chickens and cows next to all train tracks, just waiting for derailments and the resulting chocolate spillage. Right?)

The above email came on March 3. The shipping status of my package did not update again until I received this email on March 9.

Chukar UPS Delay 2

My poor cherries, after having been spilled onto a rickety train trestle spanning a crocodile-filled ravine, were now encapsulated by a snowstorm, shivering their fragile chocolate coating off.

Or perhaps, they were stuck in a Sharknado – after all, it didn’t specify the weather type.

You never know.

Until somehow, they weren’t. UPS fought train and snow and sharks flying through the air and my chocolate dropping off the grid for over five days, and still managed to deliver those precious, life-giving chocolates – just one day after they were originally due.

Chukar UPS Delay 3

When the box arrived, my warm tingly heart burst within me.

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I wish I’d gotten a better picture of that big red sticker – it said “Perishable Goods – Open Immediately.” But I didn’t have time for good photography – I had a package to open. I had chocolate-covered cherries to rescue.

They had been through a lot, after all.

I could relate.

Oh, the bliss of discovering that Melissa, Fairy Godmother of the Blog Realm, had indeed sent me that giant box of utopia again – along with a couple of other precious, blissful, renewing treats.

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The endless array of beautifully coated goodness made up for all of the train wrecks – both figurative and literal.

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And that box of cherries took over where the hope of cherries left off.

They carried me through running a half marathon perfectly fine, and then reinjuring myself the next day during my “recovery run”.

They carried me through not being able to walk for two days, then finding out that I would have to go to Physical Therapy 2-3 times a week for 6 weeks.

They carried me through multiple technological breakdowns – including those blogged and those only shared in Facebook comments.

And they’re still carrying me through. And doing a darn good job of it.

So from now on, when my life starts spinning off-balance like a washing machine whose drum came loose and is shaking the house down with its ear-shattering rhythm, I shall not waver at the thought of ordering myself some chocolate covered cherries – because mothers are best fueled by good chocolate. And Chukar Cherries most definitely balance everything out.

(Even if they have to survive their own train wreck to do so.)

Because Printing Is Hard.

In this digital age of presentations and tablets and electronic interfacing notes, we have lost the fine art of simple printing. Ink on paper. And archaic and environment-destroying though it may be, sometimes it is still necessary.

I miss Kinko’s.

All I wanted was a black and white coloring book – the one I told you about last week. A nice, folded-over booklet, pages printed front and back. It’s simple, really – you just take a bunch of 11×17 pieces of paper, print them, fold them in half, staple in the middle, and VOILA! You have what is defined as “The Booklet”.

Booklet

I did it in 2010 with only very minor injury to my mental health, but 2015 is five years later. And technology has had five more years to encroach on the ancient art of printing.

Many companies, however, have uploading software into which you can design exactly what you want printed. Then you can either pick it up in store or have it delivered. One can only assume that a company’s employees know how to translate the data coming from their own software and make it happen.

One would be wrong.

To attempt to be money-wise, I uploaded my file into both Staples and FedEx Copy and Print’s website interfaces. I laid out the exact same booklet in each, and it was a few dollars cheaper through FedEx. So though I used Staples last time, I went with FedEx.

And anyway, FedEx bought Kinko’s many years ago – certainly they have the equipment to make this happen.

Upload…Design…Quantity…Credit Card…Complete.

My order was submitted: 40 black and white booklets, approximately 70 pages each, to be delivered to my house in two days. It seemed simple – too simple, really.

In ten minutes I received my first phone call – from a lady at the local FedEx Copy and Print store.

“Um, I just got your order in. Are you wanting that stapled in the corner?”

“No. I want booklets. 11×17 pages folded in half and stapled to make a booklet. Like the choice I chose in the uploading software.”

“Hm. Well, my stapler isn’t big enough to make that happen. And the software only charged you for 8 1/2” x 11” paper. And when I pull up your book, your pages are all wonky. They all need rotatin’ or turnin’ or something.”

“They were all fine on the layout view in the software…”

“Well they’re not anymore. I can’t print this.”

“Okay. Cancel the order, then, and give me a refund.”

“I can cancel your order but you’ll have to call the toll-free tech line to get a refund.”

“Wait. What? Shouldn’t my refund process automatically if you cancel my order?”

“Uh, no – I don’t think so. Hold on – I’ll transfer you to tech support.”

What followed was ten minutes of on hold, off hold, transfers, and on hold, finally followed up with “Your refund will happen automatically since she cancelled your order.”

I pouted on the couch for a while – all I wanted was to be done with this blasted project and how hard is it to print a booklet?! Do businesses not need presentations anymore? In my pre-kids accounting days we had to print this type of document all the time! WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE WORLD.

After I finished a good sulk, I got back on the Staples website, praying my document had been saved.

Of course it hadn’t, so I uploaded, chose my options, and formatted my booklet all over again. I selected the “Pick up in store” option because I had found a 25% off coupon if you pick up in store, so at least I could save some money.

Upload…Design…Quantity…Credit Card…Complete.

Ten minutes later, I had not heard from Staples.

I breathed a giant sigh of relief and enjoyed my night, with visions of booklets propelling off the printing press dancing in my head.

Until the next morning, when I received a call from a gentleman at the local Staples print and copy center.

“Hi, uh, Miss Callahan. I don’t understand your order. So….you want a booklet?”

“Yes.”

“And…you want me to staple it in the middle?”

“Yes.”

“Do you want that booklet to be half of an 8 1/2” x 11” sheet?”

“No. 11×17, folded in half, making a 8 1/2” x 11” booklet.”

“I don’t think my stapler can fit through that much cardstock.”

WHAT IS UP WITH THESE PEOPLE AND THEIR STAPLERS.

Stapler

“I didn’t ask for the order to be in cardstock. I just want it in plain copy paper, like I selected, with a cardstock cover.”

“Okay…I’ll try.”

An hour later, he called me back.

“Uh….Miss Callahan? I can’t download your file.”

“It uploaded fine onto the website…and the preview showed the booklet exactly as I requested.”

“I don’t know why it won’t work but I can’t get it to download. Can you email it to me?”

“It’s too big for email. How about a Dropbox?”

“Okay.”

I Dropboxed him the file.

He emailed me back.

Staples Email

I don’t know if it was the persistent replacement of “won’t” with “want” or if it was the frowny face, but I had serious doubt that Staples Copy Center #1188 would have any more luck with a flash drive than their own software and two Dropboxes.

So I asked him to please try it on a different computer or…maybe…get someone else to look at it?

Staples Email 2

That was my last conversation with #1188. I could take no more.

I got on staples.com and opened a Tech Support Chat. I frantically explained my problem and my frustration and that all I wanted was a booklet and I waited. And I waited. To be connected to a specialist.

It was as if the god of irony shined down upon that moment.

sukhad

Sukhad.

Suk. Had.

I want to complain about how terrible Staples is and I get to explain it to…Sukhad.

Naturally, Sukhad was zero help. He immediately told me he couldn’t help me, and, even though my name was on the chat screen at least six times, Sukhad called me Denise.

sukhad - Copy

Please don’t have chat support if you’re just going to tell me to call you. Because that Sukhad.

I had no other options. So I dialed the number, with much trepidation and fear of the withering of my afternoon.

But I got Lindsay on the phone, and she seemed horrified by my tales of #1188 and Sukhad, and immediately jumped in to help me. She accessed my account to take over my job at the national copy and print headquarters,

but she couldn’t.

Because #1188 had cancelled, and deleted, my job.

So I uploaded it again. I chose all my options again. I checked the big box next to “BOOKLET”, I explained to Lindsay preemptively exactly what I meant when I checked that big box next to “BOOKLET”, and she assured me that she understood completely, she would do it herself, it would get shipped to me, and that she would apply 25% off since I wouldn’t get to use my in-store coupon.

I rested in the loving arms of Lindsay, knowing I was finally safe, that my arduous Pilgrim’s Progress was nearing its end at The Celestial City. That my journey down the Yellow Brick Road of printing was at the doorstep of the Wizard.

The next day, I anxiously checked the status of my order – it said “in production” and showed no coupon applied.

The third morning, I checked again.

Same.

On the afternoon of the Third Day, I received another phone call. From a gentleman at Staples.

“Hi, Miss Callahan. I was working on your order here, and I just wanted to check and see what you meant when you said you wanted a…booklet.”

I fell to the floor and loudly wept rivers of tears, slamming the phone repeatedly into my splintering hardwoods, as I begged God to send Kinko’s back from the bosom of Abraham – even just to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I was in agony in this fire.


Epilogue: My booklets are still “in production.”