Thursday, September 29, 2011

He keeps me interested

"A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person." — Mignon McLaughlin, American journalist and author 

I FEEL MUCH improved having had A) Some sleep  B) A bath and hair washing  C) An actual meal  D) I've even been out in public and spoken to people.

My next post will explain why A, B, C and D are considered achievements. It was too taxing to write about and live through at the same time.

Paul is crashing and burning today, deservedly so. He needed me to do a slightly tech-y thing for him at the office today, and since I'm not good at anything IT-ish, I asked him to write down instructions for me. They said:

On Desktop
  1) Find mjrejf88 file

In Dock
  1) Open Fetch

In Fetch
  1) Open pulldown menu called Shortcuts
  2) Click on Brainstorm, and a window to our FTP site will open
  3) Drag file into the FTP window
  4) Congratulate self

I still managed to almost do it wrong despite the fact that his instructions were perfect.

When I got to #4, I totally cracked up. Yup, just one more reason why Paul is exactly the right man. He completely gets me, he completely loves me and he's so smart, funny, kind and able to put the pedal to the metal when needed that I never lose interest.

There's love and there's loyalty, and there's a lot to be said for just keeping each other interested. He does.

Himself and Shiva
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Monday, September 26, 2011

Bloom where you're planted

"One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today." — Dale Carnegie 

YEARS AGO my dear friend Carol Vincent passed on the bit of wisdom contained in the title. I've never forgotten it. The older I get, the more it means to me. Dream, hope, plan, aspire, but in the mean time — and at the same time, bloom where you're planted.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Steve and Becky

"You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly." — Sam Keen, American author, professor and philosopher 

SEPTEMBER 3, Steve Pierce and Becky Goldin got married at the Hotel Pattee. We've known Steve for ten or 15 years, and Paul and I both think he's fabulous. He's such an ethical, intelligent, eclectic, admirable and sweet guy — the sort of man who always does the right thing.

The funniest part about knowing Steve is how we met. I was making cold calls on the phone at work and called Steve's company. I'd never met or spoken to him before — that's what made it a cold call — but nevertheless, he was not just listening, but actually interested in what we might be able to do for his business. Yippity skip pity.

We were talking away when he mentioned that since he was headed to Brazil the next day, we would have to wait to get together until he returned. Now a lot of people would have just been happy to have an interested potential customer, made a note to call him in a couple of weeks and let it go — but I lean strongly toward the Irish part of my lineage, and the Irish are going to help you whether you want it or not.

The deal was that it hadn't been that many months, maybe six, maybe nine, since Paul and I returned from ten days in Costa Rica where Paul had picked up a souvenir — malaria. Yup, malaria.

I'm won't tell the Costa Rica story just yet, other than to say that if you've ever watched over someone in the throes of malaria, you know that you never, ever, ever, want to get it or have anyone you like ever get it either, I promise you.

I asked Steve with some urgency if he'd been to an international infectious disease specialist for immunization — which is most assuredly what we should have done before we traveled to Costa Rica. He said, "No." The conversation continued like this, "Hang up the phone right now and go directly to the international infectious disease specialist. Wait, wait. What time is it? 2:30. Okay, you've got just enough time to get over there and be seen before they close. You want me to call and let them know you're on your way?"

He went to the doc and got $275 worth of immunizations. What he didn't get on his trip was malaria. Maybe he wouldn't have anyway, who knows, but for better or worse, we bonded over infectious parasitic plasmodium disease prevention and have been friends ever since.

Along the way I've been sort of a cheerleader on his behalf as he navigated the tricky waters of looking for Ms. Right. I kept encouraging him not to settle for anything less than he deserves. And good for him, he didn't.

The last three years or so have been challenging for Steve. When business slowed down at his factory and there weren't enough orders coming in to justify keeping everyone on, instead of laying off people, he paid them to clean and paint the plant until there were enough sales to get people back to their regular duties. Nobody lost their job. He's proud of that, and we're proud of him.

On top of that he fought a battle with cancer and came out healthy on the other side, so it was an especially meaningful occasion to see him so very, very happy as he married Becky.

Steve and Becky had reserved the whole hotel and saved a room for us. We stayed in the Quilting Room. The Hotel Pattee is truly one of a kind, but more about it later. For now we're wishing Steve and Becky many, many years of joy and comfort together — and no malaria.

We stayed in the Quilt Room.

The lobby.

Another part of the lobby.


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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The calm-down kittens

"A kitten is, in the animal world, what a rosebud is in the garden." ― Robert Southey. English poet and Poet Laureate

FRIDAY I HAD a panic attack. Before I married Paul, I used to get them quite often in the evening, although I didn't know what I was experiencing until Paul explained it to me. He knew because he'd had them himself in the past.

For a few years I was still subject to them on Monday nights when Paul was at Big Band, but I very rarely get them now, nor does Paul — the remedy a combination of a large dose of being securely loved and a small dose of sertraline.

A friend once told me that my spirits go up and down with the sun, so Friday's panic attack during the day was an exception. I'm probably more susceptible if I'm under stress. (That's a duh, I suppose.) 

Friday was to be the start of an extended family weekend, always a source of trepidation and anxiety, with a long to-do list in preparation: gifts to get for Saturday's wedding, auction items to secure and transport for a benefit Monday in Minneapolis in support of an ill family member, belated baby and wedding gifts for other family members attending either or both events, hotel reservations to make, and work to get done at the office so as to be able to miss part of Friday and all of Monday. 

Paul injured his back loading musical equipment at a gig the previous weekend and had come down with a cold, so I was also making therapy appointments for him as well as trying to catch up with things at home — and there was the wild one upstairs to think about. 

Then on the way to work Friday morning for a meeting I was already anxious about with a high-tech medical science company, the car started shaking so violently that we thought one of the wheels was going to come off. 

The plan had been to leave Friday for the pre-wedding party in Iowa City as soon as this meeting was over, however, to complicate things further, we were only driving the car in the first place because we knew the van's brakes were bad, so now we had both vehicles out of commission.

The meeting that we were (by now) ten minutes late for was part of a series with this company with a goal of gaining enough understanding of what they do to work on their behalf. Paul, of course, is extra smart and has no small amount of college science in his background, so he finds the process and prospect less intimidating, but grasping next-generation gene sequencing is a pretty big ramp-up for me. The founder and CEO has told me several times that he's hired us for my creativity — so no pressure there. (Here's where you say r-i-i-i-g-h-t the way only Bill Cosby can.)

Paul had to leave to attend to other off-site business before the meeting ended, but it went well — which I attribute to the client's generosity toward and tolerance of my stupidity.

Nevertheless, finding myself alone in the office, I realized I was on the front end of a panic attack. Normally I would have called Virginia to talk me down, but it was too early in the day. I did some breathing exercises (in with the good air, out with bad, in with the good air, out with the bad) which didn't help, so at last I resorted to watching kitten videos on YouTube. That worked.

I said all that to say this: here are my two calming, cheering kitten videos. May you watch them for pleasure and not necessity.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Where there's smoke

"Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke." — Benjamin Disraeli

PAUL ASSISTED with set-up for Kirk Gross Company's new exhibit this morning, then went to the office to discover all sorts of firefighters, fire equipment and police. There was a fire somewhere inside the condo-apartment building across the street. Emergency personnel had searched inside, but hadn't found the fire. Paul walked down the side alley, discovered smoke coming from out of a grate on the basement level and let the firefighters know where the fire was. (That husband of mine is just gosh darn good at everything, I kid you not.) He's under the weather, poor guy, but stayed at work until the fire was out in case it spread.

The kitty upstairs has let me touch her slightly. She's in hiding under a piece of furniture, and I can just barely get my arm under it enough to stroke her fur a tiny bit with the very tips of my fingers. I did it last night for the first time and then again this morning. At least she didn't bite, claw or hiss. She comes out to eat, drink and use her box when I'm not in the room, but I can't imagine how I'm ever going to get her to come out when I'm in there — which is going to have to happen in order to get her to the vet. 

Virginia's daughter Ann and her son Jonathan are here from California for a visit. Yesterday the three of them drove down to Ann's brother Mark's house near Fairfield for an overnight. 

Speaking of Mark, a month ago we drove Virginia down to see Mark and Ronda's new baby grandson, Lincoln Logli, and to celebrate Logan's third birthday. Mark and Ronda's son Julio and his wife Brandi are the parents of both boys. 

I spent lots of time holding this sweet boy, 
Maddox, a guest at little Logan's birthday party.

It was so great that Mark and Ronda's other son Mario, who's stationed in Georgia with the US Army, and his wife Trish could make it back for the party. Mario always has an interesting perspective on international affairs, having seen duty in Germany, South Korea, and Afghanistan

Mom Brandi helped Logan open presents. At three, Logan can sing
the ABC song perfectly on pitch. Paul was impressed.

Grandpa Mark and Logan.
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sleeping on the floor

"What greater gift than the love of a cat." ― Charles Dickens

I SPENT PART of the last two nights sleeping on the floor upstairs in Paul's music room to try and get the newbie used to the presence of a human being. We think this wild one is female. Just a guess because believe me, we haven't gotten close enough to her to confirm or contradict.

She's eating, and she's using her litter box which means the food-in/poop-out systems are working properly. That's one thing off the list of potential problems.

Meanwhile the permanent residents of the four-legged kind have been pretty calm about the situation. Of course they haven't been allowed in the same room, but they know somebody is in there, and they don't seem particularly bothered. We'll see what happens next.

Shiva and Boy Boy chillin'. He frequently sits with his paws crossed. 
Makes him look rather wise, which unfortunately he isn't. He's cute though, 
and that's gotta count for something — plus Paul adores him.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Wild one

"A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not." — Ernest Hemingway

I'M LOOKING AT a new face — a little black and white, furry one. We've been catching glimpses of a juvenile, black and white kitty in our backyard for a while, so we started putting out food and water morning and night. The vittles kept disappearing, so we knew she or he was probably homeless.

We have a live trap left over from capturing Boy Boy when he was small enough to fit in Paul's hand. We thought we'd see if we could catch this one while she (or he — we don't know which yet) was still alive. Feral cats don't have a long life expectancy. 

When I was at Roxanne Conlin's home for the Lena Taylor event, Roxanne and I were talking cats. Roxanne has rescued roughly 1000 cats in the last 13 years. Wow! That night she was offering visits upstairs to see five little kittens she saved along with the mom who's unable to take care of her babies because she's ill. Roxanne is nursing mom back to health and seeking good homes for the little ones. 

Of course I visited the nursery, and I while we were there I told Roxanne about the feral cat in our neighborhood that we'd already tried live-trapping once with no success. She said, "Oil-packed tuna. If nothing else works, that will." We baited the trap with it last night, and voila, this morning we have a new friend.

Paul was up until about 4:00 AM checking the trap. I'm sitting on the floor upstairs in Paul's practice room beginning the gradual process of acclimation. We're not keeping this one — really. We're just taming, getting medical care and finding a good home. I realize that's how we ended up with Boy Boy, but three is my limit. Really.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011


"For me and my family personally, September 11 was a reminder that life is fleeting, impermanent, and uncertain. Therefore, we must make use of every moment and nurture it with affection, tenderness, beauty, creativity, and laughter." Deepak Chopra, M.D.

TODAY is a day for remembrance.  

I Do Not Think My Song Will End by Johnny Hathcock

I do not think my song will end

While flowers, grass and trees

Abound with birds and butterflies

For I am one with these.

And I believe my voice will sound

Upon the whispering wind

So long as even one remains

Among those I call "friend."

I shall remain in hearts and minds

Of loved ones that I knew,

And in the rocks and hills and streams

Because I love those, too.

So long as love and hope and dreams

Abide in earth and sky,

Weep not for me, though I be gone.

I shall not really die.

Flowers in our garden.

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Enes Logli's 90th birthday

"How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?" Satchel Paige 

I'M ALWAYS GRATEFUL when the Loglis claim me as one of their own. Enes' 90th birthday was September 6, and I so enjoyed being with Enes, daughter Denise, her husband Alan and their son Andy; son Peter and his wife Rebecca, his daughter Christine and Chris' husband Steve; Virginia; and Dena's son Billy to celebrate. The only disappointment was that Dena and Lee couldn't be with us.

Dena and Lee are Logli sisters, and Virginia and Enes are sisters-in-law — wives of Richard and Rico Logli who unfortunately have both passed away. These ladies have some seriously good genes going on. Enes who is now 90, Dena who's 93 and Lee who is holding at 102 are pure Italian. The 100% Norwegian, Virginia, is the spring chicken at 86.

Enes and me. Happy Birthday!

Virginia on the left and Enes on the right.

Virginia's daughter Ann, who lives in California, comes home as often as she can. With her previous job she was usually able to stay for a month. With the job she has now, she gets a week at most. But no matter the length, Ann always makes time for "the aunts." Until I got to know Dena, Lee and Enes better, I didn't quite get it, but I do now. All of these women are sassy, funny, interesting, and all around way cool. I wish I'd known all of the Logli sisters.

A display to honor Enes.

Enes used to be an opera singer, Lee has a innate designer's eye and at 102 remains a fashion plate, Dena has the same dry sense of humor as Richard  which makes me feel at once comforted by its familiarity and sad by the reminder of the loss — and Virginia is so sweet that we're always surprised that she hasn't melted in the rain by now.

At one point during the party, Virginia cracked Peter up until he almost choked on the chocolate cake he was eating. He managed to get out, "Did you hear that? Did you hear that? Do you believe how cute she is?!"

I felt vindicated. "Aha!" said I. "That's exactly what Paul and I keep telling her." And Virginia replied with what she always says, "But I don't know why you think that." And of course that's part of the charm — that she has absolutely no idea how cute she is.

Enes' granddaughter, Chris, drew an amazing portrait of Enes as her birthday present. I knew that she had made an art piece, but not having seen it, I had no idea how utterly talented Chris is. Believe it or not, she only took up drawing a year or two ago. Now she's taking some classes. I told her to get a website, figure out a price structure because she can earn a living at this, and since she's an at-home wife and mother, she's perfectly situated to do so.

Granddaughter Christine and her portrait of Enes.

Enes wept when she saw it, which made Chris cry and then her dad and Virginia and so on around the table. There was hardly a dry eye. The line of extraordinary Logli women continues. Happy birthday, Enes.
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I don't trust him

"If you don't support the death penalty and citizens packing a pistol - don't come to Texas. If you don't like medicinal marijuana and gay marriage, don't move to California." — Rick Perry 

IN 2007 Texas Governor Rick Perry issued an executive order that required teenage girls to be vaccinated against cervical cancer. Personally, if I had a daughter of that age, I'd want to give her as much protection against illness as I could, but whether you would or wouldn't isn't so much the point.

What is the point is that if you lived in Texas, left in Perry's hands, you wouldn't have had a choice in the matter.

Here's a guy who thinks that having the federal government participate in health care insurance amounts to a communist takeover, and who's all over the "get government out of our lives" thing. Yet he signed an order which, had not the Texas State Legislature intervened and overturned it, would have forced every girl in Texas within a certain age group to submit to being vaccinated regardless of what she or her parents thought about it.

Yes, but I'm just so ruggedly handsome.
Are you sure you don't want me to run for President?

Perry made his executive order after Merck, the drug company that manufactures this vaccine called Gardasil, hired Perry's former chief of staff Mike Toomey to be one of Merck's top lobbyists. Mike is now running the main superpac supporting Perry's presidential campaign.

According to NBC News, "His (Toomey's) hiring was part of an aggressive lobbying push in Texas by the drug company, which also donated $16,000 to Perry's gubernatorial campaigns in the two and a half years prior to the executive order. Merck paid Toomey between $260,000 and $535,000 in lobbying fees between 2005 and 2010, according to state lobbying records."

Is this someone we want making the country's decisions? I didn't think so.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I am happy where you are

"Yet how worth the waiting for, To see you coming through the door." — Ogden Nash

I RAN ACROSS a book of poetry by Ogden Nash that Paul's Aunt Mary Louise lent us. Leafing through it reminded me that Paul often quotes this line to me from the poem, Tin Wedding Whistle. "Near and far, near and far, I am happy where you are."

At the Rotary Club of Des Moines February Fling, 2011.

By Ogden Nash

Though you know it anyhow 
Listen to me, darling, now,

Proving what I need not prove 

How I know I love you, love.

Near and far, near and far, 

I am happy where you are;

Likewise I have never larnt 

How to be it where you aren't.

Far and wide, far and wide, 

I can walk with you beside;

Furthermore, I tell you what, 

I sit and sulk where you are not.

Visitors remark my frown 

Where you're upstairs and I am down,

Yes, and I'm afraid I pout 

When I'm indoors and you are out;

But how contentedly I view 

Any room containing you.

In fact I care not where you be, 

Just as long as it's with me.

In all your absences I glimpse 

Fire and flood and trolls and imps.

Is your train a minute slothful? 

I goad the stationmaster wrathful.

When with friends to bridge you drive 

I never know if you're alive,

And when you linger late in shops 

I long to telephone the cops.

Yet how worth the waiting for, 

To see you coming through the door.

Somehow, I can be complacent 

Never but with you adjacent.

Near and far, near and far, 

I am happy where you are;

Likewise I have never larnt 

How to be it where you aren't.

Then grudge me not my fond endeavor, 

To hold you in my sight forever;

Let none, not even you, disparage 

Such a valid reason for a marriage.
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Pictures from the championship

"Gymnastics uses every single part of your body, every little tiny muscle that you never even knew." — Shannon Miller

IT WAS SO much fun to be there live and in person!

First in All-Around, Jordyn Wieber, second McKayla Maroney, third Alexandra Raisman.

They had a backdrop set up for Championship "prom" pictures.

The national team.
Jordyn Wieber was chosen as USA Gymnastics 
Athlete of the Year, and Alicia Sacramone was selected
 as Sportswoman of the Year for the fifth time since 2005.
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Sunday, September 4, 2011

I hate UPS

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does." — William James, American psychologist and philosopher 

SOMETIMES Something Shiny has to take her happiness where she can find it. Before Paul and I went to the Gymnastics National Championship, I wasn't feeling very Shiny and found myself scrambling for anything that would lift my spirits.

(That's kinda like how this whole blog thing got started you may recall, when to cheer myself up, I made a donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center, and that set me a-blogging.)

Languishing, I thought if I could succeed in tracking down a young woman who had rescued me in January and reward her as I had intended to, it would improve my outlook on life. I knew it would be a challenge; not only was she was no longer working where she had been when she intervened on my behalf, but I didn't know her first name exactly, let alone her last. Here's the story, morning glory.

Paul and I had designed a 10-foot exhibit for a new client, and its maiden voyage was to be in St. Louis. There was a graphic back wall with lights, wings and a header, a matching counter, literature rack, carpet, director's chair, video, video monitor, brochures, registration forms and prize for a drawing, and 500 give-away items — in short, a whole lot of stuff.

In addition to designing, producing, printing and purchasing all these pieces and parts, our client hired us to drive all of it to St. Louis and do the show setup so that everything would be ready for him by the time he flew in from Pennsylvania. We had arranged to leave a day early to give us enough time to have dinner and get a good night's sleep before turning into show labor the next morning.

I've lost count of how many different vendors we used on the project, but everything showed up like clockwork on or before the day we were supposed to leave. Except one thing — a display case containing all of the structure for the exhibit. Translation: the one thing without which none of the other stuff worked. 

A trade show is not a soft deadline or a flexible one, especially this show since it happens for a day and a half once a year. If we didn't get our client the exhibit in time, he would have spent $60,000 to $75,000 (exhibit and associated goods, plus show floor rental, meals, transportation and lodging for personnel) for nothing.

Paul got online with UPS and was furiously tracking the package, but all it said every time he looked was "in transit, in transit, in transit."

FYI: We hate UPS. We're diehard Fed Exers, but the vendor for this exhibit only ships UPS, otherwise we would never have found ourselves in such a desperately miserable situation. Think about it! If instead of saying the letters one by one, you pronounce UPS as a word, you're saying "ooops" — and I'm pretty sure that's the Universe trying to warn us: DO NOT use UPS if you want a long and happy life.

Paul called UPS (non)customer service and eventually after a great deal of press 1 for this and 2 for that and 3 for . . . he got what marginally passed for a human who told him the rest of the exhibit would be delivered to Des Moines on Monday. Since the show was starting Saturday and ending Sunday, getting the display on Monday wouldn't exactly do us any good, a concept we thought would be evident to our "service representative."

I took up the baton and by that I mean "phone" and went from (non)customer service rep, to (non)customer service rep's supervisor to supervisor's supervisor, and each one followed the exact same complaint-response script that unfailingly ended with "Your package will be delivered on Monday."

I was on the phone with yet another (non)service person when she accidentally let it slip that the package was currently on its way from Chicago and would arrive somewhere in Iowa (she wouldn't say where) that night. I was beginning to see a little light at the end of the tunnel, and in this case, I was actually hoping it would be a truck. If I could locate it, we could drive there, grab the package and head to St. Louis.

But n-o-o-o-o-o. "There's no way we can contact the driver," she, he and they told me over and over. Ya, right. Drivers have told us those trucks are tracked every second they are being operated, and many of them have in-cab cameras on them all the time. When I begged to differ with the ridiculous notion that there was no way of reaching the driver, there was silence on the other end of the line — an awkward pause, if you will, but no denial — and then back to "Your package will be delivered on Monday."

About 4:00 PM I gave up on the phone and borrowed a car (Paul had the van somewhere else) and drove to the UPS (non)customer service center. At least I would be face to face with a human, offering some small hope that I could be more persuasive in person. I was compelling enough for a worker to make a call or two, but I was still right where I started hours and hours ago. "Your package will be delivered on Monday."

As a last ditch effort I drove across the street to the freight hub — you know, the one that's surrounded by fences, no-entrance signs, gate arms and guards in a guard shack. I nosed the car up to the gate and got out.

One of the guards became quite excited about my presence, but I said that I was there to see the head of — I sort of ad libbed a position that sounded logical — and that got me through the gate and into the guard shack. Inside, there was an old guy who didn't seem to know much and cared even less, but at least he called "corporate" and asked for someone to come down.

Imagine my disappointment when that someone turned out to be about 19 years old with the adolescent acne to prove it. He listened — okay "listened" is a misnomer; he sort of held his breath with a somewhat terrified look on his face while I reiterated my desperate plight for 99th time. You could almost see him counting five seconds in order to appear as if he had actually considered my problem before he said, "Your package will be delivered on Monday" with the new addition of, "There's nothing I can do." We had thus, I realized, finally reached the very last line of the UPS complaint script.

No matter what details I sought or what I suggested, I got the same response with no deviation: "Your package will be delivered on Monday. There's nothing I can do."

By the time the kid arrived, I had already offered to bribe everyone within earshot. I gave that another shot. I yelled, I cried, I begged and eventually I threatened to sue, but he kept repeating, "There's nothing I can do, there's nothing I can do, there's nothing I can do." I expected him to flap his wings and ask for a cracker at any second.

His brain could go no farther because the script went no farther. Thus he was rendered unable to think outside the box, quite literally, of his response chart. (BTW, my assessment has since been confirmed; it really IS how they're taught to respond on the phone or in person: when you get to the end of the script, you repeat the last line over and over until the person hangs up or goes away.) 

Since I had already ascertained that the truck with my package on it was at that very moment somewhere between Chicago and Iowa and would arrive sometime that evening, I knew "there's nothing I can do" simply was not true! All someone had to do was tell me where and when the truck's next stop would be. He might not be able to do anything, but there was someone in that large corporate building who could! I had reached the yelling stage and finally jumped the shark: "You can say that as many times as you want, but I'm not leaving until somebody solves my problem!"

The whole while I'd been in the guard shack there was a young woman, a security guard, who had been standing off to the side watching this Mexican standoff transpire. When it reached the "I'm-going-to-sue-and-I'm-not-leaving" denouement, she walking briskly out of the guardhouse towards the corporate office. I thought, "I'm either going to be thrown out of here, arrested, or she's going for help."

I was desperately hoping for the latter. I had watched her watching me as the battle waged, and I thought I saw sympathy in her eyes and intelligence, and I got the impression that she thought this pencil-necked, acne-faced teenager was as much of a dolt as I thought he was. (I actually felt sorry for him because he obviously hadn't been trained to think or had probably ever been allowed to, but my duty to my client trumped sympathy by a lot.)

Her name was Catherine or Katherine or Kathleen — I couldn't exactly read the badge, and I was just a tad too stressed out to recall any Dale Carnegie methods for remembering her name — and she came back with a large dude in tow. He introduced himself as the head of security, and I must say that at this point I considered getting thrown out or arrested as the most likely scenarios.

Thankfully, I was wrong; he actually came to help. I went through my story for the 200th time, and he got on the phone calling this person and that and in short order had determined that my package would arrive in Moline, Illinois sometime that evening. He would call the night manager as soon as the guy came on shift in about four hours and ask him to pull my package off the truck first — all of it had to be off-loaded anyway — then he'd call me as soon as they had their hands on it, and we could head to Moline.

We waited anxiously by the phone at the office. By now it was about 10:00 PM, but at last the call came!!!!

We jumped in the van, zipped home, packed and hit the road, arriving in Moline about 1:00 in the morning. We snagged our package, and drove all night to St. Louis where we got about an hour's catnap before having to metamorphose into installation crew and show labor supervisors.

When our client arrived at the show hall, everything was all set-up and working perfectly. (So much for having a small working vacation the day and a half we were off between setup and teardown. We slept!)

Was it worth it? Of course. Our client received lots of atta' boys from the corporate honchos of the big company he was trying to impress.

I rewarded the local head of security, who's a UPS employee, with gift cards to Biaggi's and The Cheesecake Factory, but by the time I had the wherewithal to do something for Catherine, Katherine or Kathleen, the security company UPS contracts had been awarded to another company, and she was no longer there.

It took about as much determination to find her as it did my package. I suppose it was only fitting that this saga that began with eleventy-seven phone calls would end the same way. Eventually I found out her actual first name was Catherinea pretty close spelling of her last name, and that she had been a Drake law student until May when she graduated. After more telephone calls, I got the correct spelling of her last name and her parents home town in Iowa.

Alas, their phone had been disconnected (they had ditched their land line like so much of the world) so I began calling people with the same last name in the same town, and eventually I located her grandpa who gave me her cell number.

I called her cell, but she didn't answer. so I left a message. But then, YAY — she called back! I told her I had a belated thank you gift. She said that since she was running errands in the area, she'd stop by right away. Woohoo!

As it turned out, I just barely caught her because she was leaving in four days to spend six months in Africa. However, she was having a party with her friends the following night to celebrate, and since I was holding a gift certificate with her name on it — literally — for a downtown restaurant, she said that was exactly where she would have her party.

We exchanged many hugs. After all, if it hadn't been for her ability to use her head instead of a phone script as well as having the good sense and gumption to fetch someone with enough authority to actually DO something, I wouldn't have been able to honor my commitment to our client who had put his fate in my hands.

Catherine was really glad, she said, to finally learn "the rest of the story" and so happy it turned out well in the end. We happened to have the very display in question set up in the showroom, so she was able to see the fruit of the pursuit, if you will.

I told Catherine that even though she didn't have her license to practice law yet, since she's still awaiting the results of the bar exam, she had already resolved her first case.

And I'd honored a debt of gratitude. It made my week and cheered me up. But we still hate UPS.

PS: Yesterday Paul registered the domain name WE HATE UPS. Really!

I thought we would never lay our hands on this in time, and we almost didn't.

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