By: Jessica Carney
“We can’t stop e-mailing you,” the sales guy at the car dealership told me. I had just one request when I brought my car in for an alignment – please don’t send me 15 e-mails and call me twice to ask how my service was. What the hell has happened there that they need a system of checks and balances more complex than the United States government? “If you aren’t happy with me you can tell the manager when he calls you,” he explained.
“The only thing that makes me unhappy IS the phone calls,” I tried to explain to his blank face. This was clearly not a concept that anyone has ever brought up to him. Why isn’t he mad that his boss trusts him so little that he has to shake down customers for intel? As a participator in modern technology my phone makes noises and/or motions every time I receive an e-mail.
“Why don’t you check your phone?” my husband Devin asks me constantly. Every time his phone makes any noise or motion he immediately responds to quiet it and comfort it. “Shhhh. It’s okay, it’s okay,” I imagine him saying while stroking it slowly, “I’ll take care of you.”
“I am not a slave to my phone,” I respond. After submitting my phone number for many innocuous things such as ordering Chipotle online so I don’t have to speak to anyone…ordering Noodles & Company online so I don’t have to speak to anyone…and ordering Papa John’s online so I don’t have to speak to anyone my phone number has been sold all over the place. I get numerous phone calls from foreign locations like Kissimmee, Florida, and Aspen, Colorado. I don’t even so much as flinch anymore when it rings. This distresses Devin greatly.
“Aren’t you going to get that?!?!” he asks.
“I like knowing that other people are watching the same thing I am,” my mom said when we tried to get her to switch over from cable to Netflix. She watches mostly reruns of old shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (don’t get her started on her complicated feelings about Spike) that could easily be watched without interruption on Netflix, but she won’t switch.
My mom also thought the whole front page of Facebook was dedicated to her. She responded meticulously to every post. She thought 100+ people wrote her personal messages about their daily lives and shared links just for her every single day. Sometimes twice a day. We assumed she was just overly enthusiastic when we first noticed the impossible number of responses that she was writing. She knew just enough to be dangerous – one day she created an event completely by accident. The event was titled after my sister –“Lisa Fritts at 4:00pm on Saturday”. Lisa clicked “Not Attending”.
A lady in an adjoining neighborhood to mine somehow found me on Facebook after only knowing my first name. We spoke a few times on the walking trail that separates our two developments and I found out that she has some sort of in-home business selling clothing.
“We should talk about it sometime,” she said. The next day I got a message inviting me to her open house that said “You can be the hostess next time!” if I brought enough friends with me.
“You know what men are really good at? Not throwing parties where they pressure each other into buying things,” Devin said. I decided to accept a Facebook invitation to a Norwex party thrown by another neighbor to be friendly…and because that neighbor had recently adopted a chocolate lab puppy that I desperately wanted to pet. I had tried unsuccessfully to time our walks with theirs so that I would get a chance to talk to them and meet the new dog. “Stop creeping,” Devin would tell me when he would catch me peaking out the window at their house. At the party the dog kept picking up the cleaning items we were supposed to be admiring and running away with them. The host kept trying to corral the dog to get us to pay attention to the presenter.
“Bed bugs poop 25 times a day you know,” the presenter told us with furrowed eyebrows. At least if you get suckered into going to a Mary Kay party you get to try on make-up. Even a Tupperware party (these also amazingly exist) would be better than a Norwex party. I scanned the room for anyone with a glimmer of humor in their eye as we passed around an actual toilet wand. Each guest examined it thoughtfully. “Hmmm….this angle would be great at cleaning up that rogue piece of shit,” said their thought bubble.
“What is your date of birth?” asked the woman I was purchasing sunglasses from recently.
“Seriously?” I asked. Granted, this was my first pair of over $6.00 sunglasses, so I wasn’t familiar with the routine. My routine is to buy cheap sunglasses, abuse them and cram them into my purse, and then be annoyed when they fall to pieces. I decided to turn over a new leaf and go to an actual glasses store rather than the one located in the checkout lane at Drug Town. Well – technically – it was inside a Target so “actual glasses store” is a stretch.
“Let me just see if your e-mail is already in our system…” she said.
“Yeah – it’s not. And you don’t need my date of birth or e-mail.” The sales woman opted to give me a dirty look instead of asking, “What negative result could possibly come from you spewing out your personal information to anyone who will take it?”
My interactions with our linen vendor at work could best be described as Mars trying to communicate with the moon.
“You want what picked up from where?” they ask.
“Linens picked up. From my place of work…the same place I’ve called you from the last eighteen times. Wait – do you even pick up anything else? If I asked you to pick up an office chair would you just do it?” The receptionist and I start from zero each time we talk.
“Who am I….where am I…”
“LINENS,” I answer. I have yet to get our linen bags back from them after calling six times to explain the problem. “WE HAVE NOTHING TO PUT THE LINENS IN,” I say. One day, despite picking linens up all day, the driver just forgot that they are often in a container.
“Oh bags – those cost extra,” the receptionist said turning the situation into the most boring hostage situation of all time.
“We already had them! You took them when you picked them up!”
“I’ll need to have the manager call you,” she said.
I feel like a queen when Devin and I go to Home Depot. We look at tile and curtains and grill accessories. Devin talks to people about our future projects saying things like, “We definitely plan on tiling behind the stove,” and complains excitedly about the amount of work that will be required. He also talks about putting in a big privacy fence so that we can have parties in the backyard….apparently without anyone knowing. I like that no one really bothers you at Home Depot – there are just stacks of stuff to literally build a house and you’re supposed to put them together and take them to the depressed looking lady in mom jeans at the register who may or may not have smoked for upwards of 20 years at some point in her life. If I walk into the Yankee Candle store someone is RIGHTHERE helping me decide what season I want my kitchen to smell like. Building a kitchen? You’re on your own there.
My aunt wanted to buy a “berm” home that was basically half-cave. It was on a large plot of land – a big contrast from her modest fenced yard surrounded by yards with kids in them.
“They are so loud,” she said. She put up a privacy partition inside of the fence in the backyard but some of the kids still tried to talk to them over the two barriers.
She and her husband drove by the berm home which had an “Open House” sign in the yard referring to one that would take place that Sunday. They thought it meant that it was open and decided to ring the doorbell.
“They were nice but kind of strange,” she said about the current residents. She’s since decided that she wants to build one of those tiny homes where IKEA dreams are made. She wants to forgo all technology and live with a bunch of dogs in a humorously tiny space with clever lofted areas.
On The Sims 3 your characters can visit other Sims in the neighborhood. This is a major upgrade from previous versions where you had to wait for people to walk by your house and drop whatever you were doing to catch them before they disappeared from your lot. I would make my Sim set their newborn baby on the tile in the middle of the kitchen and go sprinting out of the house to the edge of their property to “chat” with the neighbor. If your Sim gets an invite to another house they have to behave themselves – if they nod off on the couch or try to make a sandwich a message appears that says, “___ is acting inappropriately and if they continue I will have to ask them to leave.”
You can also play the game as a full-on crazy hermit if you choose. You can spend hours picking out tile for an elaborate mansion and then delete your front door so that no one will ever come in. Everyone knows that you can purposely torture a Sim but the glitches that happened spontaneously were far more humorous to me. One of my Sim’s got stuck in his front porch. There really isn’t a better way to phrase it. Half his legs were sticking through the bottom of the porch and his thighs and up were coming out the top. After about three days of shrugging he just died. Another one of my Sims acted inappropriately by taking a bath at a guest’s house but a glitch caused him to be floating mid-air naked with no bathtub around him. He leisurely made gesturing as though he was washing himself for a few minutes while the home owners knocked angrily on the door.
They added dogs in the Sims 3 which greatly increased my game play time. You can set your Sim’s “life goal” to “be friends with as many dogs as possible.” Other life goals include “become the best scuba diver” or “become an awesome social media blogger.” Yep – you can pretend to be on social media within the game. When Devin got on my Sims game all he did before I kicked him off was set up a guy in a boring looking house and had him sit in the corner and play computer games.
When we lived in a small apartment in Minneapolis we taught our dog Daisy to run full speed from one end of the hallway to the other with each of us standing at one end – basically a way for us to exercise her without having to get cold or move at all. Now that we live in a house with a yard she figures she should run full speed at the neighbors in their yards – approximately the same distance away as the two of us would have been in the hallway.
“DAISY!” Devin calls out, agitated. Or sometimes he will say, “Well Daisy found a new friend today.”
One neighbor has a big, old yellow lab that lies in the front yard. When anyone in the cul-de-sac comes home he gets up laboriously and goes over to greet them in their garage. The owners apologize profusely when he follows you down the street a little ways, wagging his tail. When I tell Devin that I want to alter our walking route to go over and go pet the dog he rolls his eyes a little and begrudgingly agrees. This is a little outside of normal operating procedure for the owners – they look at me funny and say something like, “The weather, huh?” as I pet their dog.
We don’t talk to our neighbors very often. A couple of them came by when we first moved in but only when they saw us outside – no one ever came to the door. The people that live behind us go around to the side of their house and smoke while gazing passively inside the windows at the houses around them.
We talked to even fewer neighbors in Minneapolis. When a water pipe broke next door Devin went over and helped the neighbors turn off the water and mop up enormous amount of heinous black water. We didn’t really see them much after that. Their deck was connected to ours, only being separated by an ugly green sort of tarp that was tied between. Oftentimes their cat would crawl through and perch in our windowsill – peeking in at what we were doing.