coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Saturday, January 24, 2015

What Next?

I got an email the other day from a newly retired friend.  It was actually her very first day of being retired and she did not know what to do next.  Ha!  I told her to do nothing.  That is the hardest part of being retired, learning that you no longer have to define yourself by being productive. "Have to" being the key words.  It is a totally different way of thinking, and it takes some getting used to.  

At the risk of being outed as an old hippie, let me say this post reminds me of a late 1960s-era Blind Faith/Stevie Winwood song, "Do What You Like," the last verse being:

"Open your eyes, use your head, 
realize that you're not dead
Take a look at an open book,

let it cook
That's what I said, do what you like" 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Bacon and Blockbuster Brunch

Our granddaughter, E, spent a few hours at our house today at what I hope served as our very first Bacon and Blockbuster Brunch.   

She is a young "tween" at that awkward age between child and teenager.  I tend to get on her nerves now, so it is hard to find ways to bond with her.  Making silly faces followed by long, loud, fake burps used to enchant her.  In simpler times we made up stories together, each developing the plot for a few minutes and then passing it on to the other to continue the story line.  The goofier the plot, the better.  It was great fun.  Apparently, not anymore.  Darn!

I am struggling to find ways to relate to her tween mindset.  I need to find things to do with her that she likes to do.  Unfortunately, playing Minecraft on the PS4 makes me car sick.   

FYI, the only person who admires me unconditionally these days is my grandson, who is not yet 3.   He thinks my silly faces and fake burps are hilarious.  In fact, he told me the other day that when he grows up he wants to be a Gwamma.  I still have a few good years left before he stops wanting to hang out with me.  Then I may have to run away and join the circus.  Finally.

This morning I was missing her.  I decided to invite her over to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark.  She was seriously considering coming to the old folks home, but I could tell she was wavering.   I promised to make her brunch with bacon, eggs, AND pancakes.  She was immediately in.  T went to pick her up while I cooked, and we had a lovely few hours together, the three of us.  

She left happy, filled with pancakes and smelling of bacon grease. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

My New Car

I did it. I am the proud owner of a brand new car. What kind? Does it really matter? It is just a car. The good news is I bought one, although my husband T is the real hero in this story. He researched cars and options, shared his findings, figured out what was holding me back, eliminated the millstone around my neck, and drove me to the car dealership.

I am not your average new car buyer.  I do not really want to buy a car, nor am I in love with cars in general.  I am also unpredictable, quirky as hell, and always anxious to leave because I have a short attention span. This forces the salesmen to think on their feet.  Literally.  I am continually getting up and saying I will think about it and get back to them tomorrow.  They then have to stand up and quickly think of ways to get me to sit back down and continue to listen to their salesman shtick.  Sometimes discounts ensue as a direct result of standing up. Very interesting. Car salesmen REALLY do not like to let anyone leave without buying something.  I, on the other hand, would NEVER buy something as expensive as a car without leaving first and thinking about it overnight.  We got an additional “loyal customer” discount immediately after the first time I stood up and said goodbye.  Honestly, I was totally not playing the guy for another discount.  I just wanted to go home.  I did take note of his reaction for future reference, though.  Fun stuff.

On Wednesday, we went to look at cars.  Almost as soon as we got out of the car a friendly car salesman came out of the building to greet us.  Our friendly car salesman was an ex cop from the Bronx.  Apparently he retired from the police force in his mid 50’s and moved down to Florida. He is a quick talking Italian with a loud sense of humor, and he talked about his mother a lot.  Lots of strangers now tell us about their mothers, I guess because they are trying to relate to us as retirees.  He also told us about his younger cousin who is still a NYPD cop who had just made a big arrest.  He was very proud of his “little cousin.”  We were, too.  Our friendly car salesman still walked like a cop, which made me imagine we were actually starring in a TV cop show.  I tried to play it cool, but you know… I am not really all that cool. T surreptitiously nudged me when I mindlessly started to tell the guy what was wrong with the old car we wanted to trade in.  I changed the subject without missing a beat.  Thank God for the old man!

Sometimes I develop what I can only imagine is a mild form of Tourette’s Syndrome making it impossible for me not to say everything that comes into my mind, kind of like a teenage girl.  Consequently, I simply had to tell our friendly car salesman that he still walked like a cop. It made him happy to hear that!  He searched through his cell phone for pictures of himself when he was in uniform. Ha! The older I get the more I enjoy people.

On Thursday we went back to test drive and then buy the new car.  Yeah, we forgot to test-drive it the day before.  What can I say?  I actually made T test-drive it for me when we got to the dealership.  I rode shotgun.  Our friendly car salesman thought that was odd, and he sat in the back trying hard not to notice T’s driving. He kept talking to T while T was driving, asking him questions and telling him to look at certain things in the car. Not good. T really needs to focus when he drives.  If T missed a few turns and test-drove a little too long trying to find his way back it is our friendly car salesman’s fault, not T’s.  I tried to tell T when the turns were coming up, but he was listening to our friendly car salesman instead of me.  Big sigh…

The financial guy was an African American from Maryland who did Obama and Bill Cosby imitations for us while we filled out paperwork. He was good at the impressions, too. The more we laughed the more impressions he did. He should have been on stage at Comedy Central instead of behind that desk. We heard stories about his son trying to get out of mowing the lawn. His wife called while we were there and he said “I love you” to her before he hung up. I liked that, but I also wondered if our friendly car salesman was actually the person on the other end of the phone and not his wife.  Maybe the phone call was part of a larger plan to make them all seem more human and likeable so we would give them spectacular reviews in the follow-up survey about their customer service?  Sheesh, I am so distrustful.  In fact, our friendly car salesman had joke-called the financial guy from another room just after financial guy finished showing us his Obama routine.  Our friendly car salesman asked to talk to the President.  The financial guy said (in Obama’s voice) “Sir, NEVER call the Oval Office again!” and hung up on our friendly car salesman. The financial guy also teased our friendly car salesman when he returned by accusing him of actually having been a mall security officer instead of a NYPD cop, which made our friendly car salesman search even harder for photos to prove his street cred. These two guys obviously have fun at work.  It made me wish I worked there, too.

Our friendly car salesman said he would call me the next day to follow-up on the sale. I waited all day for the call that never came.  I was a little disappointed. Then I remembered he had my cell phone number.  As I mentioned in my last post, I do not turn on my cell phone.  Sure enough – there is a missed call from him on he cell phone. Oh well.  I am not going to call him back. 

I bought the exact model and make of car as I had before. This car is just 11 years newer and a different color. That is how my wise and subtle husband finally got me to the dealership to buy a new car.  He seemed to understand my real problem was not that I was afraid to go to the dealership, it was that I was overwhelmed by the plethora of possibilities inherent in deciding which car to buy.  How can I possibly make a decision about what car to get when I do not really care about cars in the first place? What criteria do I use to make a decision?  Why do there have to be so many different kinds of cars?  Why did I buy an online subscription to Consumer Reports when it only increases the variables and fills me with anxiety?  T gently said to me “You seemed happy with your old car, why don’t you get another one?” Pure genius! I love that guy. Getting a new car just like my old car turned out to be the answer. After all, I just wanted my old car to be young again.  Luckily there was only one car there in the configuration I desired (i.e., basic with no frills), so I did not even have to suffer over a choice of color.  I took what they had.  Another decision successfully avoided.  In the future, I would like to be assigned an updated version of my current car every 10 years whether I need a new one or not.  Surprise me with the color.

The best news is I paid almost the same amount for the 2015 model as I paid for the 2004 model purchased years ago. Why? Well, it is certainly not because I am a cool negotiator. Rather, 10 years ago I was still working.  I thought nothing back then about paying extra for every option and/or feature imaginable (sunroof, leather seats, heated seats, accessories, car-top rack, trailer hitch, etc.). The one I bought yesterday is just your basic, basic, basic model. I still have air conditioning and a clock, but I do not need a sunroof, leather seats, or heated seats in Florida. As for the trailer hitch, we sold that damn boat before we moved.  Advanced technology features? The car comes standard with a back-up camera that comes on automatically when you are backing up the car. This is a very cool option and now I will not back into my neighbor’s cars or fear for small animals anymore.  However, if I had to pay extra I would have done without it. Other things? I would never use any feature that one has to refer to a manual to figure out, so why pay extra for complicated features?  I am pretty comfortable saying no. However, the car did come with magical Bluetooth “stuff” that allows me to answer and talk on my cell phone without using my hands. Our friendly car salesman set it up for me, but I am not sure I remember how to make it work. Oh well. As the saying goes, “You can’t miss what you ain’t never had.”

Saturday, January 3, 2015

This is what happens when I try to buy a car

I need to buy a new car.  Mine is dead and has been sitting in the driveway for a couple of months.  T and I are sharing his car.  It is not an ideal situation, but I do not have the energy to devote to buying a new car.  In early December I tried to throw myself into a car buying situation, assuming I would sink or swim.  I sunk.  I applied for a loan and it was approved.  Then what?  Where's the car?  You mean I have to actually do some work to find one?  Do I have to interact with salespeople?  Do I have to talk to strangers?  NOOOOO.  The loan officers were worried.  They could not understand why I was not buying. They called and left urgent messages.  I would not pick up the phone.  I was filled with dread whenever the phone rang or I received an email.  Finally they offered me the services of a car concierge who works for the credit union to make things easy for buyers.  I would not answer his phone calls, either. 

In fact, I ignore most phone calls because Florida is filled with scam artists who sit around every day calling retired people trying to trick us out of our money.  We actually started getting these con-calls the same day we got our land line telephone installed, so I can only imagine the cable company providing our phone service is routinely selling new phone listings to scumbags.  Nice.  Consequently, I stopped answering the phone months ago.  Sometimes, when I am in just the right mood, I pick up and tell whoever is at the other end of the line to take my name off their list and never call me again.  I use my best cold-hearted bitch voice.  That is always kind of fun.  

This aversive reaction is a direct result of working in an office for so many years.  I OD’d on communication a long time ago.  So what if I have been retired for over a year now.  I still have not recovered.  I may never recover.  It is the principle of the thing.  The thought of having to do anything that resembles office work (including answering the damn phone) makes me want to run off screaming into the night. Every time the phone rings my stomach turns.  If I have an administrative, real-life issue I must suffer through, or a deadline I have to meet, I freak out.  I ignore it, procrastinate; all the things I could NEVER do when I had a job.  It makes me feel so good to ignore things.  By the way, if you want to reach me, call my land line phone or email me.  If I am home and I can see it is you, I will pick up the phone or call you back.  Do not even think about calling me on my cell phone.  The ringer is turned off and I rarely turn the cell phone on unless I am stuck waiting in a doctor’s office and need to play solitaire.  My cell phone is purely an ornamental status symbol.

Getting back to my car buying experience, I finally emailed (note I did not use the phone) the bank, car concierge, and salespeople and let them know I changed my mind.  I said I would reapply in the New Year when “things settled down for me.”  Ha!  I guess I showed them!  Maybe if I put this off long enough T will give me his car and then he will go through the effort of buying a new car for himself.  It is so crazy it might work.