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Sunday, April 14, 2013


I am starting to think that I need an agony aunt.  However, my concerns would not be heard as the term is not used in the USA.  The nearest thing I can find here, is Abby, (as in Dear...), and perhaps better described as a 'life advice columnist'. 

My problems are diverse, although not of such a personal nature that would be dealt with in one of the more modern talk show programmes.  I do not think my husband has a secret life, (he doesn't have time!) and I am not concerned that my mother is meeting him for secret liaisons (he doesn't have the time, and she doesn't have the inclination...and I am sure that is probably the case vice-versa!)  It is probably unlikely that the modern day columnist would be interested in my ramblings.

Our Monday started on a far more civilised measure than we thought, as Joe had not taken his trip to visit his sister, and was 'at the shop'.  Being a creature of habit, if my routine is not messed with, I am far more productive.  I had been very domestic, and prepared dinner the previous day, which was cooking, slowly, in the crock pot.  Therefore, my week started on a very positive note.  All was going very well. Samantha was due to leave early, as the dog had an appointment with the V.E.T.  By Monday evening, however, things started to take a downward slide.  The dog was going to have to have surgery on Tuesday morning, to remove a foreign object, just under his skin, in his neck. Although I have not been opposed to animals, I have never been what one might call a pet lover (apart from the attachment I formed with my goldfish, as a child, but for some reason that seems to cause amusement, rather than compassion).  Frank, however, has managed to get under my skin, and irritating as it has become, I have become rather attached to the animal.

Samantha dropped the dog off at the clinic on Tuesday morning, and was told he would probably by three o'clock.  We were all rather concerned, but the canine nurse called around ten to say he was ready, and all appeared well.  We went from up to down, and back up again, as she was told it was not a grass spear, as first thought, but a small tumour.  The tumour appeared to be a fatty growth which was not cancerous, and was very older dogs.  Upon more investigation, she found several articles online that suggested it may be the dog food she has been feeding him.  However, as this was a week of dilemma, it appears that the dog food in question was one of the best selling brands; to wit, the percentage of dogs that suffer complaints, will be higher, that those eating a less bought variety.  Of course, it is best not to take any chances, and the search was on for another dog food that the precious, fussy, faddy puppy would eat!  It was going to be an uphill struggle. 

By Wednesday morning, my writing for help appeared to be an over-reaction, and my problems of what to make for dinner, or what shoes to wear in case of rain, would probably only been of interest to a trainee psychologist, who needed to find a cure for my 'issues', than to an Agony Aunt.  However, by midday, I was ready to start my own column.  Dana had been out of the office since breakfast time, and I was dealing with crisis after crisis.  Everyone who called or emailed wanted their papers delivered today, and at opposite ends of the country.  After passing the calls around, they all came back to me.  Unfortunately, as I am usually the first to answer the phone, most think that I am merely the 'receptionist'. Dana and I do not always 'leak' the information that we are married, but if people ask, we tell.  It has crossed my mind that there are those who think that Dana allows the 'little woman' to come into the office and 'help out'.  We had a call from one such person on Wednesday.  After passing the call over to Kelly, she passed it back to me. It appears she had 'put him straight' on that matter, and he was quite happy to treat me as an equal.  He did apologise, which I said was not necessary, and explained that it was a common occurrence.  Dana found it interesting that people would consider that I do not know anything, just because I am the one who answers the phone. 

It was Thursday that I could have not only filled the 'problem' page of my new magazine, but had enough material to keep it going for a month.  It started with a phone call to a courthouse.  If I was to give the clerk the benefit of the doubt, I would say that she was caught 'on the hop', or 'off guard'.  If I was to be kind, I would say that she was the person whom answered the phone, and therefore, merely the 'receptionist'.  However, at the time, neither the former, nor the latter was extended, and so I held her entirely responsible.  My initial reaction was to ask her if she required the case number.  Her initial reaction was to ask, 'what's the question'.  After I had asked the question, her reply was, 'speak to the county clerk!'  The sigh from me was pretty loud, and when I told her that the county clerk had referred me back to her, she reluctantly, but fairly abruptly asked, 'what is the case number'.  I did not point out that if her time was precious, she could have saved herself vital minutes!  That was the kind part of the call.  Without going into tedious detail, she advised me that to achieve my goal, I would have to get the attorney, himself, to come to the court. 

Thursday was the day that everyone wanted everything done on Wednesday, despite the fact they had not asked us to do anything until Thursday.  I am sure you get the picture.  It is not always a good business move to tell a client, 'your bad planning should not be my problem'.  Advising someone we had not taken care of the project, as they had not yet given it to us, was not the answer they were looking for.  As usual, I was polite and understanding.  Although it is perceived that the receptionist is not particularly knowledgeable, they are usually the one who needs to know the answers when there is a problem.  Whether I answer the questions or not is usually dependent upon their attitude.  I will help if the question is asked, but if someone says to me, 'you probably don't know the answer as it is complicated....', I tell them to hold the line.  I am not sure my attitude, should be contained in a letter to an agony aunt, or a visit to the trainee psychologist!

Dana took me out for dinner as we had left the office very late, and the 'receptionist' had not only fielded all the calls, but had also been the one to take the steam out of the engines, before transferring the now much slower trains of dissatisfaction.  By the time Dana had finished solving their problems, they had become meek and mild.  Upon our return home, I set to my usual Thursday evening task of loading the washing machine. Unfortunately, I had fallen asleep the previous night, and had not only failed to unload the previous load, but had failed to notice the machine did not finish the cycle.  (My washing machine has an annoying 'end of program', buzz.  I found the 'off' button on the dryer, but could not find the same cure on the washer.)  Sitting in half a tub full of water, were my bath towels.  I turned the switch on and off, turned it round to different places, and found that although it would 'swish', it would not fill, drain or spin. Without the number of a trainee psychologist, and not having time to write a letter to an agony aunt, I had no alternative than to empty the machine and place the soapy garments in the bath to rinse.  It was then that Samantha called and started to question me on which dog food she should buy, and could I tell her what the article had said about the food she was discarding.  I tried very hard to hold it together, but after she made a decision, with very little help from me, I was unable to stop the camels back from breaking and crumpled into a heap of useless whimpering.  Dana, the practical, could not see why there was a problem.  We could call for a plumber in the morning.  He could not answer the question, 'but what about the dog food?'

I did manage to get it together.  The following day I enquired as to whether any of my colleagues knew a washing machine 'fixer', which they did.  Dana called the given number, and explained the problem and the lady on the other end of the phone.  She told him the probable problem.  Dana's comment, 'Wow, you don't expect the person who answers the phone to know', was followed by my laughter, and comments of 'yeah, right', and 'really?'.  He could not see the comparison!  However, all came right when a very nice young man put my world right, by swapping out the switch on my washing machine.  The attorney who was required to go to the court to achieve his goal, was told by his paralegal that he had to take a 'field trip', and our Thursday crisis that had to be solved by Wednesday, were all completed.   It was someone else's turn to find the agony aunt!  Strangely enough, there were many applicants.  During Dana's absence (someone had to let the plumber in!) the phones were quite busy.  I was on one call, and Kelly on another, when a young girl holding a box of chocolate bars entered.  Samantha had taken the dog into the back of the office (he had fully recovered from his ordeal - the 'lump' was of no concern, and 'natural') I listened as my caller almost cried down the phone for help, and Kelly subdued hers, eventually coming to the front to see the young lady with the chocolate bars. After explaining that she had defied the 'Seriously, no soliciting' notice, Kelly told her that she did not wish to purchase her wares.  The comment, 'the other two here are English.  They have their own chocolate', was enough to see the young lady off the premises.

The dilemma of going to Costco or to the Wiener Dog Races, was all I had to concern myself with on Saturday.  I chose not to turn it into an issue.  Sunday morning put the whole week into perspective as we chose to go to Mozarts, a much loved coffee shop, and drink coffee and eat croissants, by the river.  Being ten minutes from my house, I realise how blessed I am, and that my life really is very uncomplicated compared to some.  The rest of the day was very quiet, and I found myself ready to take on another week, or at least that is my hope, unless it becomes .................... another story.

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