NBC Olympics.com will be covering Olympic events live and streaming them to anyone who wants to follow them. I imagine, as NBC is an American network, that the coverage will be highly American team focused, but you never know.
When I got to the car rental counter, the polite man behind the counter typed in all the information and then blanched.
“Ummm, ” he started off, very embarrassed, “there is a problem . . . . ”
I knew, I just knew what was coming. I had even sent the car rental agency an e-mail asking them to check to make sure everything was straight.
“You’re on our banned driver list.” he finished up.
If it hadn’t happened before – TWICE – I would have been a lot more embarrassed. Now, I am just annoyed.
When I came in here last time, I didn’t know my license had expired. Fortunately, I have another driver’s license, so they let me use that one – it is the license that is banned, not the driver (yeh, go figure). The very next day, I was the first one in line at the driver’s license place and renewed my license in less than five minutes. It’s easy. I just explain that I live in Kuwait and don’t always have access to registration facilities! They understand.
But when I got to California and went to rent again – same problem. Again, they let me drive on my other license.
So third time is the charm. Once again, they give me a car based on the second license (I mean, isn’t that funny in itself; you have this BANNED person and you give her a car because she can show you another license???)
The counter guy gave me a sheet of paper with an intimidating list of the possible reasons I was banned, including expired license, but also things like fleeing the scene of an accident, or felony warrants and things like that. (If you could see me, you would know how dyingly funny this is.) Before I even took the car, I called their security people. It took a total of 30 seconds. I told them I renewed the license, they checked, found out I was not lying and BINGO! I am no longer a BANNED person.
I knew what the problem was, but being BANNED made me feel terrible. It was so unfair. It made me think about labels, and how even though they are just words, words can make you feel really really BAD. I truly hated being a BANNED person.
There’s an old saying here “You don’t like the weather? Wait five minutes!”
In all the world, the restaurant I love above all others is Ivar’s, and the good news for me is that Ivar’s has branches all over Seattle. They have big, full service restaurants, they have counters in the food courts in all the malls, they have branches all over the city, sort of like fast-food Ivar’s, and then they have a couple branches by the ferry-boat lines, so people taking the ferries to the islands can just grab some fish and chips to go. Or clam chowder. Yummm.
You all think I come to Seattle and just sit back and eat bonbons, but you are SO wrong. I do all my medical check ups, and get new glasses, and try to take care of all kinds of business. So I am waiting for my glasses to be ready in one hour, and I go to the nearby food court where I know there is an Ivar’s. I was having blood tests this morning, so I have fasted since midnight the night before and I am HUNGRY.
When I get to the Ivar’s, I order the Salmon Ceasar, which the big sign says is $8.69.
“Is that the lunch special Salmon Ceasar?” the counter guy asks.
I am desperately looking for a sign and I don’t see one, so I say “yes.”
The price is WAYYYYY less than a dinner Salmon Ceasar, and the salmon is almost the same size, just a little less lettuce, or so it looks to me.
How often to restaurants ask you if you would like LESS instead of more? Often, when we order, the server asks “is that all?” and my usual answer is “isn’t that enough?” Like we are not supposed to be in the restaurant unless we are going to order more?
When my lunch comes, there is also a form – you will see it below. It is a very brave form – I always admire restaurants that genuinely ask for feedback.
(At one restaurant in Kuwait, I wrote I would never be back because they didn’t have the kind of pizza I like, and AdventureMan said “the home office will never see that one!” because he believes that the bad ones are probably tossed away.)
I’m only sharing this with you because I really love Ivar’s food, and I really love their approach to the customer.
AdventureMan was driving, which left me free to take photos on my way to the airport. Here is the exact same set of traffic lights I photographed April 14th and I hope you will notice, while there actually is a very very dimly lit red light, we can’t discern it in this photograph, and you can barely discern it with your naked eye. Three months later, nothing has changed.
It doesn’t take that much. Send the traffic-light-bulb-changing guy out every single day, and this will not be an issue. How long will it be before we have working red lights?
Now, this truck full of paving stones:
This is not a secure load. This is an accident waiting to happen. The driver is also very aggressive, and hates being passed. His tires are also bald.
You can hear his loud voice all through the lounge.
“You have my blackberry!” he says when someone answers the phone. “I left it in the restaurant. How can I get it back?” (pause) “I’m in the lounge.”
Within minutes, two security men are in the lounge, checking his ID and handing over his blackberry.
“We had a difficult time trying to find you, sir,” says the polite, but firm, security guy, in a loud, carrying voice. “Let me make a suggestion that will make your life easier if you ever lose it again. In your contacts, put YOUR name first. You can put two spaces before your last name, and then your last name will be at the head of the list. That is the smartest way to make sure people can return your lost electronics.”
I look around. Half the people in the lounge are quickly inputting their names, with two spaces, into their phones, computers and personal data devices.
“The Qatteri Cat really needs a bath,” I say to my friend as we sip coffee in her living room, “He’s gotten all matted in the heat. The truth is, I’m afraid to bathe him. He has calmed down so much since we got him, but when he gets scared, his primitive brain takes over and he has scratched and bitten me.”
I am thinking particularly of when we first got him. He was scared of me, he didn’t much like women at all. He adored AdventureMan (still does) and slowly, slowly warmed up to me.
He had a house outside, called a “cat containment center.” Go ahead. Laugh. All our friends did, too, but it gave us peace of mind. Qatteri Cat could be outside in the garden, and we knew he was safe. People put out poisoned fish in our neighborhood, to kill stray cats, and we didn’t want that heartbreak.
(This is called the cat penthouse, and it is created by Kittywalk. They have all kinds of things for pets, including, I am not kidding, pet strollers, in case you want to take your cat for a walk, but they don’t walk, they ride. I cannot imagine using one of these pet strollers in Kuwait. . . . or anywhere.)
So Qatteri Cat is out in his cathouse, and I hear an snarling, howling YOWWWWWLLLLL. His friend, Satchmo, from up the street has wandered over to say hello and Qatteri Cat is totally out of control. He is mad, he is running and throwing himself against the walls of the kitty penthouse, and Satchmo – all he wants is to be friends!
I get the trusty squirt bottle and shoo Satchmo away. I talk calmly to Qatteri Cat, calmly, calmly, and I open the door. He tries to rush out and I get him by the scruff of the neck, you know, how they tell you so the cat will go immobile? He can’t scratch and bite if you have him by the scruff, right?
Wrong. Wrong. So very very very wrong.
I still have scars. I got him inside, and gave him a 30 minute time out in the bathroom to calm himself down. When I did that, he totally forgot what had happened and would be fine. Actually, most of the time 5 minutes was enough, but I figured with all that adrenelin going through his system, 30 might be safer.
Fast forward. Bath time.
My sweet friend really knows animals.
“Don’t try it alone, Intlxpatr. That isn’t a job for one person. Get AdventureMan to help you, tell him to hold him by the scruff of the neck! Like his mother. He needs to know you are in control.”
So yesterday, I talked AdventureMan through what we needed to do. I will get everything prepared, and then one of us has to hold the Qatteri Cat and one of us has to soap him, massage him and rinse all the soap out.
AdventureMan chose to hold the cat. I was greatly relieved.
We got him into the bidet (first mistake, QC is a BIG cat) with a towel in the bottom, and when I started pouring the water, QC started howling. We are not talking your everyday miow here, we are talking, as AdventureMan put it, the sound of a cat having surgery without anaesthesia. I was so afraid our neighbors were going to report us for pet torture – because that is what he was howling.
Not only that, but it’s one thing to try to hold a terrified cat by the scruff of the neck (bad enough!) and another thing totally to try to control a terrified, wet, soapy cat. I was scrubbing, pouring, QC was howling, AdventureMan is saying “Hurry up! hurry up! I can’t hold him much longer” and there is water water everywhere. We have the bathroom door closed, so when QC gets out of AdventureMan’s grasp, we quickly capture him again. We are all soaking wet, QC is still soapy, and AM and I are panting and laughing and we need to get this job DONE.
We transfer him to the bathtub and finish the rinsing, and wrap him in a towel. At no time does he stop his shrieking, not until we let go. He is still very very wet, but he won’t let us – or a towel – anywhere near him. Finally, I put a towel in a sunny spot and leave, and when I have been gone a significant amount of time, QC seeks the nice warm towel in a nice warm spot.
I check on him every ten minutes or so. He doesn’t want to see me. Finally, maybe an hour later, he comes in and stretches out on my legs. All is forgiven, if not forgotten.
But here is the really cool thing. As terrified as he was, he didn’t scratch and he didn’t bite. Maybe he might have, if AdventureMan had not held him firmly, but we have held him firmly before and gotten terribly scratched and bitten. I think, as bad as it was. Qatteri Cat trusts us enough to suspect we were not trying to kill him. And his coat is a lot nicer, now, except the holes show where I have been cutting out the lumps.