De' fliengde Vuogtlänn'r

Observations, rants, etc. from a guy who really gets around.


The 2007 Miss Teen Easter Egg Pageant

Thank heaven she came in fourth. Although you have to wonder about those she beat out.

But there's a follow-up.

It's not without good reason that they're not referred to as "Intelligence Pageants".


America's Funniest Work Videos

Some days, I love my job. Like Saturday. We have these carts that vendors rent. They have lockable drawers in them. And zip-up tarps that cover them.

There's a vacant one, and I keep finding it unlocked. We've suspected what's been happening, but haven't been able to prove it.

Until Saturday.

I've had the key for that cart for a week or so. Every day, I check, and most mornings, it's unlocked. I lock it. Next day, it's unlocked again.

Then came Saturday morning.

Around 9:30, I went past it to the front door of the Mall Office to get a key to our scissor lift so I could move it. On the way, I checked and it was unlocked. I locked it. Checked all the other drawers. All locked.

Went and got the key, went out the rear door, moved the scissor lift, returned thru the back door and exited thru the front door right around 10. Spotted the biggest PITA in the mall removing the tarp from her cart. Went over to the door leading back into the secret corridor and watched her go over to the other cart, unlock and open a drawer, put her tarp in, and close and lock the drawer. (BIG no-no; you rent one cart, you get the use of *one* cart.) I tip-toe over while she's not looking, unlock and open the drawer, remove the tarp, close and re-lock the drawer and sneak away. Leave the tarp in the Security office.

I leave work at 4:30, come back at 8:45 to wait for the mall to close (I had already briefed key Security people on what was up). I go into the Monitor room where they can watch *everything* that's happening in the mall. 9:00 comes. We watch PITA saunter over, unlock the drawer and open it and.... stand there with a horrified look on her face. "Oh, crap! What do I do now???"

She finally walks around to a different drawer, unlocks and opens it, and removes a different (and different-colored) tarp. She starts back toward her cart, then turns back, replaces the tarp, and locks the drawer. Then she goes back to her cart. A minute later, the phone rings. The Security guy answers. I only hear his part of the convo.

"Yes, ma'am. Well, he's gone for the day. Uh-huh. Well, I might be able to call him at home. It'll take him a bit to get here. OK."

We're laughing our butts off now. About 7 minutes later, the phone rings again.

"Yes, ma'am. He's on his way. He'll be here soon."

I go out and grab one of the other Security guys who's in on the whole thing. We go over to PITA's cart. She starts explaining (in very broken English) that her tarp is gone.

Me: "Where was it the last time you saw it?"

Her: "In that drawer."

Me: "Why was it in the locked drawer of a cart you're not renting?"

Her: "My key fit that. I never do that again. I need tarp."

Me: (Big explanation of the no-no factor.) "I'll see if I can find one for you."

15 minutes later, I return with her tarp.

Her: "Thank you. I never do that again."

Cart rental: $1,000/month
Handyman pay: $9.50/hr
The look on her face when the trap was sprung: Priceless


Sunday evening.

Mall closes at 6. At 5:55, I'm in the Monitor Room. We watch while PITA closes up. Does she pull her tarp out of her own cart and cover the cart? Nooooo!! She walks over to a third cart, unlocks a drawer, pulls out her tarp and drags it over to her cart.

Gotcha. On video tape.

This evening, one of the Security guys is supposed to be sitting at that other cart at closing time (9:00pm) to see what she does.

I can hardly wait to get to work Wednesday morning. :-)

Update, Wednesday, 22 Aug:

Made it back to the Monitor Room just in time this morning. PITA wasn't there, but her alternate was. Sure enough, she took the tarp off, walked over to that third cart, and locked it up in the same drawer it was in Sunday evening. All on videotape. (And I had checked earlier to make sure it actually was locked.)

Methinks TPTB will be having a little chit-chat with those two women.

Update, Thursday, 23 Aug:

This morning, I staked out the third cart. The guy in the Monitor Room gave me a heads-up when she headed my way, and I hid on the far side of the cart where she could see me without really trying. After she got the drawer unlocked and opened, I stepped around the side of the cart and nonchalantly asked "What are you doing?". She was a bit spooked, but had enough presence of mind to tell me that that particular cart was leased by a friend of hers who let her keep her tarp (among other things) in it.

I went back and reported that to the office and they'll take it from there.

Now, where do I go from here for fun? :-)


Ode To Mary Jo

(With apologies to Bobby Gentry.)

To say that Mary Jo was "plain" would almost be a compliment. Let's face it: she was a tad on the homely side. Not "make a train take a dirt road" homely, just not a candidate for prom queen.

One of my great failings in life is that I never befriended Mary Jo. My life might have been the richer for it. I only knew her for one school year. We had just moved across town and I went to a new school for the 8th grade, and then on to high school and I have no idea of what happened to her. From what little I can recollect, though, she was practically a straight-A student. Very smart.

Unfortunately, in those unenlightened days (are we really any better today?), physical appearance was everything. I recall being smitten by the class beauty queen (a condition I recovered from very quickly, TYVM) who turned out to be *ahem* a tad less than a paragon of virtue. As I look back, I regret that I wasted so many hours on an Easter Egg when I might have profited far more from associating with a Little Brown Wren. Who knows what we might have had in common? Who can say how both our lives might have been richer by virtue of friendship and mutual support?

Unfortunately, our society does not seem to have progressed very far. We still treat the Easter Eggs like they're All That And A Bag Of Chips, while leaving the LBWs to while away their time in loneliness.

Over the years, I've had several opportunities to participate in conversations revolving around the topic of "Who would you like to meet when you die?".

I'd like to meet Mary Jo.

I'd like to say "I'm sorry". I'd like to ask her forgiveness for not having been mature enough to rise above social pressures. For not having reached out to someone who I knew could have used some friends (not that I was Mr. Popularity myself). Maybe it would help if I told her that I learned from my mistakes; that I've tried over the years to reach out to the LBWs I meet. (And tried to take a few Easter Eggs down a peg or two.)

I have no idea what happened to Mary Jo. Or what could have happened. Maybe -- with the right encouragement -- she could have found a cure for cancer. Maybe she could have invented something that benefits mankind. Maybe she found some decent guy who was able to look inside her and see who she really is and didn't care what the package looked like. Then again, maybe all she's done is prove Thoreau right: the masses of (wo)men lead lives of quiet desperation.

Though the odds be against it, I hope her life turned out well and she found happiness. Somewhere, there's a Law of Compensations thru which all these wrongs get put to right.

At least, I hope so. For all the Mary Jos out there.


Of Easter Eggs And Little Brown Wrens

Many years ago, before everything got all mechanized and industrialized and homogenized and standardized, people actually made Easter eggs by hand. It was an eminently simple process: one simply pierced both ends of a raw egg, blew into one end, and the yolk and albumen came out the other. After drying, the eggs were decorated with various forms of paint, along with such things as precious stones in some cases. The end result is that they look exquisite, but there's nothing on the inside -- they're hollow.

Somewhere along the way, things got really out of hand, as a look at Faberge eggs can attest.

Some people are like Easter eggs. Their outward appearance is very eye-catching. But there's nothing on the inside; they're hollow.

Quite some years ago, I read an article in the paper about "little brown wrens" -- women who are outwardly rather plain (not "homely"; just plain), who don't go in for all the razzle-dazzle of the fashion magazines. But inwardly, they're the most wonderful people -- intelligent, caring, funny, engaging, you name it.

For the last little while, I've been noticing a "little brown wren" at work. There's a warmth and a genuiness about her that I find refreshing. Whenever we pass each other, we exchange the usual pleasantries, and I'm always struck by her unassuming nature. The other day, I took the occasion to pass along a rather sideways compliment by telling her about the Easter eggs. I'm still hoping it wasn't an awkward experience for her.

Afterward, I got to thinking about an "Easter egg" I had met many years ago. I was working for a little company that regularly did business with a certain shipping company in town. From time to time, we had to make a run over there to drop off packages. The "young bucks" in the office would practically fight over whose turn it was to make the run. I've seen as many as three of them go over to drop off a package that couldn't have weighed four ounces. Each time, they would return with the same exclamations about how "awesome" this young lady was.

My inquiries as to exactly what qualities made her "awesome" were met with stares of utter disbelief. Did this fool not understand the concept of "awesome"? Did he not comprehend that "awsomeness" was a concept unto itself? Where did this weirdo come from? Had he just fallen off the turnip wagon last night? She was awesome because she was awesome, you moron!

And then it happened.

One Friday evening, the boss and I were the last two in the office and he had a package that needed to be sent out. Would I mind? Well, I was pretty much finished and it was kinda sorta on the route home, so what the heck?

I pulled up in front of the office and got out of my vehicle. From 50 feet out, I could see into the building and couldn't possibly mistake who that was working the counter. It had to be. I walked in and conducted my business in my usual business-like manner. I was not the least impressed by her fashion magazine looks or her inane attempt to engage me in flirtatious banter. I was underwhelmed. As I said later, there was a lot less to her than meets the eye. Just another Easter egg.

Give me a little brown wren any day.

"There is a world of difference between true beauty and mere physical attractiveness." -- Master Doh-San