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Sunday, March 25, 2012


Mary Poppins would have had an answer, I am sure, for most of the things that happened this week, and her authoritative manner would have made her sound far more subtle than me, but I strove to be practically perfect all week.
The reason I bring up the practically perfect Mary, once again, is because my week started off, practically perfect.  Sunday, last weekend, was Mother's Day in England, and as usual, I was treated to a traditional mother's day surprise, which included cake.  I had decided not to be difficult, nor obtuse.  Of course, there will be a surprise one year, when nothing is planned, but until then, I will remain suitably shocked.  I asked Dana if he would prefer to go out for breakfast or lunch, and he answered, in a very nonchalant manner, that lunch would suit him better.  I said that was good for me, too.  I asked if he had a preference for food, and he said that we had not been to the Brazilian restaurant for a while.  I said that was good, too.  I asked what time he thought would be good for him to go, and he said around 2pm.  I said that was good.  I even went so far as to go downstairs and wait for him, knowing that he would have to text Samantha, to say we were leaving.  He could not understand how I knew that Samantha and Edward would be at the restaurant, and more so, how I knew there would be cake!  My only real surprise was that Chara was not there, but she had a prior engagement.  Samantha, of course, knew I would guess all aspects of the surprise, and was not disappointed that I had done so.  The cake was, practically perfect.  Mary Poppins sat above two tiers, and the inscription read, 'To a Practically Perfect Mum'.  Once again, my daughter had done me proud! 
Mary's podium was sliced, but with plenty to feed an entire city, I took the remaining treat into the office for consumption.  The remnants of SXSW were completely obliterated, and the silence was most welcoming.  The post arrived early, and the peace and quiet was short lived, as the telephone rang incessantly, and the office became 'Solicitation Central'.  The prefix for our company's phone number must have been the target for this week, as at least two out of three calls were either silent or non-business related.  Having behaved myself so well on Sunday, my mischievous gene was starting to get restless.  Fortunately, it did not have to wait to long to be let out to play.  Mid-morning I answered the phone to a young lady from an employment agency, who asked if we had filled the position advertised. It was slightly difficult to understand her, as she appeared to be calling from the Helium Department, but I concentrated as she squeaked the details of the potential employee on offer.  The potential employee was superwoman, presumably bringing her own cape and headgear, as there was no mention of having to provide uniform.  Her credentials put my 'practically perfect' resume into the 'mediocre' category.  Finally, after being told of her excellent phone skills, I was asked if this was the person I was looking for.  'Let me answer, let me answer', screamed Miss Mischievous living inside my head.  Having been so well behaved on Sunday, I decided to let her take over.  'That means she would be doing my job', came the little voice from within.  Ms Mouse went silent, then cleared her throat and managed to squeal, 'oh', before the phone went dead.  Round one to Mary, I think!
My wayward gene and I did come to a understanding during the week, and I managed to keep control for the most part, but like anything that is suppressed, once let loose, havoc tends to reign.  Fortunately for most would be tele-salesmen, or women, I was very busy this week, and did not have time to say anything other than, 'not interested'.  Unfortunately, for the rest, Wednesday was less manic.  'Can we play, please', came the voice of my alter ego, and play was indeed what we did.  'If I can make so much money from home, why are you not at home doing the same thing?' caused the phone to go dead.  'Why would you pay me to give you names and numbers of small businesses from the phone book, when you could do it yourself? was another question.  As I am sure I have mentioned before, I am not unsympathetic to those who choose to make a living from telesales, I just abhor the dishonesty.  The word does not exist in the Practically Perfect Diary.  I did feel, despite Miss Misch, that I was kind, but firm! With a record number of people hanging up on me, I feel Round Two went to Mary.
Those who know me are aware that my ability to say 'no' face to face, is almost impossible for me.  A voice on the other end of the telephone has no face, so I cannot see expressions, and am not taken in by puppy dog eyes, or sweet smiles.  (As mentioned last week, feminine wiles are not included in this list!)  However, seeing someone trying very hard to do the job for which they have been employed, knowing that a negative response will show despondency, makes me rather compassionate.  Trying to let someone down lightly, never seems to work.  My tried and tested method to overcome this, is to either think 'brick wall', (the original 'Village of the Damned' film was so inspirational!) or to stare at an ear.  Right or left; either is sufficient.  My encounter with the young lad at Costco had the brick wall built right behind the left ear.  (The puppy dog eyes, smile and the fact that he was barely old enough to be out of short trousers, made it more difficult than usual, so double measurers were needed)  Awaiting my change, I heard my name.  I turned, smiled, and said 'Yes'.  He began the sales pitch.  As an executive member I could save a lot of money, in fact, I would received a percentage back on all my purchases.  Having 'done the math' the last time I was offered this 'not to be missed' opportunity, I knew that I would have to spend almost twice the national debt to gain the advantage.  Not listening to what he was saying, as I had heard it all before, twice, I turned, and said, in a firm, but oh so kind, voice, 'No, thank you'.  'But you have already spent $200 today', he said.  Spinning around, nearly knocked myself out on my own concrete construction, I remarked that I had not spent $200, not even half, nor a quarter.  He was rather confused and asked the teller how much I had spent, but the gentleman behind the till (and I reiterate, gentleman) looked at my attacker with a stare that virtually said, 'mind your own business'.  I responded that it was irrelevant, and would he please stop asking me questions.  Giving him the benefit of he doubt, and it was possible that he was either hard of hearing, or that the background noise interfered with the sound waves from my mouth to his ears, I let him continue.  For a small amount of $13.28, I could buy into the executive account, and anything I spent from here to the end of the year, (failing to say that the end of the year, for me, was June) I could get 2% back on my purchases.  Suddenly the $200 made sense.  If I spent $200 a month from now until June, I could break even.  Call me unkind (and very un-Mary) but I do not think the young man worked this out for himself.  For a third time, I turned, and said, very politely, 'No, thank you'.  I asked Samantha if she had finished, and walked around to get my trolley/cart.  Obviously, my brick wall had stopped him from walking the other way, and he followed me, then stood, slightly to the side of my carrier.  'Do you understand the concept of $13.28?'  He asked.  'Do you understand the word, NO!  I think not!'  Firm?  Of course.  Kind?  Well the saying is, you have to be cruel, etc etc; so I think the answer is Yes.  Round Three to Mary, most definitely.  I think Samantha was exaggerating when she said he was about to burst into tears.  I was still trying to work out whether $13.28 actually has a concept.  If it does, I am afraid I certainly do not understand. 
Mary would no doubt have taken my victims through a chalk pavement drawing, and would have given them a spoonful of sugar to help the manners medicine go down, but I am afraid I do not have the artist, nor the linctus.   However, I will attempt to be practically perfect instead of completely mischevous, the results of which, I am sure will, periodically, come out and the outcome may become ....... another story.

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