Today’s Pet peeve: People bitching about “The Media” like we’re all some sort of foreign entity. These are the same jokers who bitch about “The Government” without realizing we’re (for now) all government as part of a participative democracy.
Coming from a household where both of us have worked in, at different times, broadcast and print journalism:
Memo to those of you thinking The Media is an entity “playing” you. The Media is not a singular unit. From the Washington Post, New York Times, CBS, ABC, NBC to local venues like the Tampa Bay Times, Chicago Reader, Sun-Sentinel, City Paper, Creative Loafing and on to hyperlocal papers like The Gabber… if you think any two of these members of the Fourth Estate can agree on anything as simple as what toppings to get on a pizza, much less a grand agenda to control the masses, you’re crazier than Tea Party member who walks into a NOW meeting. Even within news organizations, we don’t agree. Ever. OK, rarely. Sometimes we get it right on the pizza.
Why? Because news organizations consist of *people*. There is no journalistic bat cave, guys, only a professional and ethical sense of responsibilities to the publics we serve. We don’t all get together in a bat cave and plan how to manipulate non-media folks. I mean, the Tampa Bay Times had to sell their building earlier this year; who do you think’s funding a bat cave, anyway? Even if we could afford a bat cave, we’re not sharing information on any level. I know of no quality journalist would would share information or plans with another media outlet.
So, now that almost every legitimate news source of record has chosen to endorse Hillary Clinton, what does that mean? Because, trust me, they didn’t get together and talk about it. There’s no giant typewriter-and-scotch bat signal for journalists that goes up in the sky, letting us all know what we’re supposed to tell people.
So why do all the respected media outlets all endorse Clinton?
Honestly, I don’t know what any of them are thinking. I know what CL’s editorial staff wants and believes, because I’m part of it and sit in the meetings. That’s where my knowledge ends. But I do think it has something to do with this:
There’s a reason journalists have special protections and there’s a reason when a media outlet endorses, it has done so. I guarantee you, if it is a respected news outlet following FCC rules about what makes it a news outlet, it’s not doing so to play people or manipulate, it’s doing so because it’s editorial team has had to ferret through more news, interviews and documents than the average person would be able stand and, weighing all the evidence, they endorse out of a sense of professional and ethical duty to America. Endorsing is not something any outlet takes lightly. Endorsing is not at the whim of preserving the status quo for anyone on an editorial staff. Endorsing is not used for corporate gain.
I realize some of you don’t believe me, but that’s not how journalism — real journalism — works. Journalists have special privileges, yes, and with those privileges come responsibilities most people don’t want. It’s not a cake walk. It’s a constant state of admitting your bias and working to overcome it, of trying to decide what to leave in a news story and what isn’t germane to that particular story. A good journalist questions their motives and decisions; a great journalist always questions them. Yes, most outlets endorsed Hillary. Independently of one another, I’d wager.
Please don’t vote because of a single media endorsement.
Vote because of all of them.
If you want to impress an indie bookseller, don’t discuss your Amazon ranking: What I learned at SIBA
I’m spending the next few days at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show, at the request of my publisher, who wants to sell my book as badly as I do. This means I’m spending a lot of time with indie booksellers and I’m learning a lot about what it’s like to be an indie bookseller.
The struggle, as the kids say, is real. Here’s what I learned tonight on a trolley ride from Tybee Island back to my hotel in Savannah, all from indie booksellers:
Don’t tell an indie bookseller how great your book’s doing on Amazon. Think about it: this is like telling Steakhouse A how much you eat at Steakhouse B.
Don’t act as though they have to sell your book. They don’t. Even if you’re J.K. Rowling, no bookstore needs your book. Books are like trains: If you miss one, there’s another one coming in behind you.
Do patronize the store. Customers who are authors get priority over customers who aren’t.
If you do get an author event, don’t advertise it with a link to buy the book on Amazon. Or anywhere else other than the store. What good does it do the bookseller if 100 people show up to hear you read and they’ve all bought the book on Amazon? What, you think they appreciate you taking that extra wine off their hands?
I found the entire conversation enlightening; I never would have thought of some of these things, but it became clear quickly that they matter greatly to the indies. And, since they’ll be the ones selling my books, I’m happy to oblige. Also, as an author, I’m quite on the outside looking in on these booksellers who, even on the first night, are clearly a close-knit group strung across the south. They help each other, they rely on each other and they seem to genuinely care about everyone succeeding.
You don’t see that with Amazon. I’m fairly certain they don’t care about helping out Barnes & Noble.
Oh, also? I’m hoping Inkwood will agree to sell my book, but until then, you can buy it directly from the press. No Amazon required plus you get $5 off; click here and use code AU916 at checkout.
You kinda had to be aware of the first Denis Leary song in the mid-nineties to appreciate the beauty of what happened on CBS the other night.
And Denis Leary released “I’m an asshole” and it was funny because life was sufficiently good enough (for those of us not fighting a war in the Gulf) that we had time to get annoyed by the little things he mentions. It’s a song, he tells us, about the American Dream. In reality, it’s a song about how the American Dream has made us assholes.
He just didn’t realize it the first time, and neither did we.
I am not lucky, so don’t you dare say I am.
I had this thought last month while driving home from an almost-all-expenses-paid trip to the Florida Keys. TV5, from Quebec, had me down to talk about the nature of Florida tourist attractions. They paid for my room and my expenses there and back. I paid for my food, except a local historical society director bought my dinner.
For those of you playing the home game, this two-day trip is, in essence, my dream. So while driving home along the Tamiami trail, drunk on saltwater and high on sunshine, I had the passing thought, “I am a lucky son of a bitch.”
My next thought followed immediately, and it was supremely angered by the first thought: No, I’m not.
To be clear: I don’t have bad luck. I’m not unlucky, not by any means. But me being down in the Keys, or having a book deal, or being able to write for a living, has nothing whatsoever to do with luck.
Let’s be clear: I love my life. Every damn day I wake up, delirious with pleasure that I don’t sell insurance or work for a government agency (any more). But I didn’t stumble upon it; I gave up a lot. And I worked hard.
Which was not always the easiest choice. For those of you who think freelancers sit on their ass all day, cherry-picking the best assignments… um, no. It would be a much easier life if I went back to a nine-to-five job.
I’m not built that way. And that’s OK. I love my life, but not because it’s easy.
I’ve earned a master’s degree, and despite what some people say (“Oh, you have a master’s degree in Florida? What was your thesis, eating key lime pie?”) I worked hard to get it. I spent a lot of money and went without going out after work (because I had to read five hundred pages a week, on average), didn’t go on “regular” vacations because every trip was a field trip (yes, I loved them. That doesn’t make them less work), and had to find something new to say about Florida for my thesis (no, it couldn’t be on Florida Man).
As for the book? After having one publisher ignore me completely – and I mean completely, I didn’t even get the courtesy of a form rejection letter – I prepared a proposal package that was more research and writing than most people do to get a bachelor’s degree. And after THAT, after I had a contract, I had to rewrite, then edit, then deal with advance reviews and decide which parts of those were worthwhile and which weren’t, and edit again. And meanwhile – let’s not forget – I still had to work, because only about three people have ever made a living being an author with a conventional publishing company. One is Stephen King, one is the chick who wrote those fake bondage “shades of whatever” books, and one is a guy in Tacoma pretending to be James Patterson. That’s it. So on top of the idea I may never get more than a couple thousand dollars from this book which, by the way, has been my dream since I was nine, I still had to freelance, which means I still had to find work that would pay me.
And I did. But not because I have been lucky. I have worked when other people played, I have written about things that made me want to set fire to my eyeballs (incest, rape, murder, you know, your garden variety injustice), I have gone without the trips to wherever most people my age without children get to go.
To be clear, I don’t regret a moment of it, only that it took me so long to give up a conventional life to pursue this one. I am happier than I ever imagined. I do what I love, and it’s OK that I will never be wealthy or have a company-supplied pension. I am living my dream.
I write about Florida, and sometimes people pay me to come talk to them about Florida. I write about Florida, and, more and more, people pay me to write about Florida. This year, I’m also working on a series of fiction books about – here’s a shock – Florida. El Cap has offered this year to me as a gift to me, and I accepted.
This is my life, and I am blessed beyond measure. Blessed, happy, deserving, dedicated, determined… use almost any word you wish.
Any word but lucky, that is. Luck isn’t a factor. It never has been.
As of Friday, the United States Coast Guard officially ended the search for 14-year-old fishermen Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos, the two boys whose capsized boat was found far north of where the boys were last seen. I cannot imagine the immensity of the pain ripping through their families and their community in Tequesta, not just today, but for years to come.
I’ve followed this story closely. El Cap and I have a life geared around Florida, boats, and the water. Everyone seems to have disdain for the parents and what they did wrong in regards to the boys in the boat. I’ve read and heard a lifetime’s worth of disdain and scorn about those parents. Perhaps you are one of those people who feels the parents may be partly to blame, that allowing two 14-year-old boys alone a boat was begging for this type of tragedy.
Please, Internet, hold your judgment. I know we’re Florida and the popular dog to kick right now, but odds are, you have no clue what you’re talking about. El Cap works for a tow boat company; I’ve worked for several different boat companies. Couple that with the time we spend on our own boat or kayaks, and rest assured, we’ve both seen more than our share of stupid boating tricks. I can tell you that I’ve seen teenagers on boats and I’ve seen adults on boats, and every stupid human trick I’ve seen on a boat involved grown-ass men.
Did Perry and Austin have good parents? I have no idea; I don’t know them. I do know this: Allowing two boys with local waterway knowledge and experience to take a boat they’d run many times into the Loxahatchee River and along the ICW doesn’t make their parents bad parents.
See, people in boats on rivers and in the ICW is what we’re about down here. People move here to offer their kids the kind of life Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos had from an early age. Unless you live in south Florida and know the water as they did, I’d bet money these boys would put you to shame in the water. Did they misbehave and venture out of the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway)? Perhaps. Clearly, they left the ICW but why or under what circumstances remain unknown. No one knows what happened. But even if they did leave intentionally, it was misbehavior on par with a teenager from Oklahoma sneaking out after curfew to have some beers with a friend.
To those of you who don’t understand this, sending teenage boys like these two out in a boat on a Florida river or the ICW is absolutely no different than kids in Montana being able to go sledding or snowmobiling, or kids in Ohio being able to ride their bikes around town. Florida – south Florida especially – is a glorious tangle of rivers, lakes, bayous, and bays, a patchwork of dredged land held together with salty sinew. We have more water than land down there. To those boys, the water wasn’t a scary place. It wasn’t a dangerous place. It was as familiar to them as their own street. They knew the local waters; likely, they could read a chart better than most of you.
If they did intentionally leave the ICW – if they hadn’t lost steerage or had an incident that brought them there inadvertently – they were simply being teenagers, pushing the limit, testing boundaries. I’ve talked to a grown man who used to head over to the Loop Road, close to Miami off US 41, until his dad found out and put a stop to it, lest the young kid be killed. Odds are, every one of you reading this did something foolish, too, as a teenager. Drinking and driving? Jumping off the roof of your house? Showing your ass in your new car? Riding your bike in between traffic? Every one of those things could have killed you. Boys will be boys. Teenagers will be teenagers. Just because Florida boys play in boats and not on land doesn’t make their parents any worse than yours, or any worse than you are.
If you are a parent, I guarantee your kid will do something stupid that maybe could kill them one day, too. And I hope it ends better for you than it looks like it will for these two families. If it doesn’t, I hope you are shown compassion many of you are not showing these families today.
So how about you hold that judgment, eh, Internet?
Believe it or not, my voice is not the loudest and my post about some horrible things a (now former) member of a Gulfport Crime Watch page posted – and a (now former) admin refused to delete is not what spurred the city to act. My voice is but one of many in this instance, because Gulfport city management and police heard from several residents and business owners who were shocked and scared by the statement and – more importantly – the (now former) admin’s assertion that he “saw nothing” that warranted action.
Responding to complaints from members of a local crime watch Facebook page – I can’t share the link because the page has gone “underground” and more on that in a bit – the chief took some steps to fix the problem. I encourage you to read his latest blog post. If you really, truly can’t be bothered to read it, just know this: He reiterated that while GPD tries to help any crime watch type of group as resources allow, this group is not a city group. He also added that, in light of recent events, the city required the group sign a standard agreement (well, it’s standard in Gulfport) that includes agreeing they won’t violate the city’s human rights ordinance. Effectively, the next time this happens, this group can’t use city facilities anymore.
I also found the last paragraph quite interesting:
“While I cannot speak to the status of the ‘Gulfport Community Crime Watch’, it is important to note that this is not the only such group in town. Crime watch is, at its very heart, a simple and informal arrangement between neighbors. If anyone is interested in forming a crime watch organization anywhere in Gulfport, please feel welcome to contact us for information on how to get started.”
If I had to guess, I would guess our chief perhaps wants to start a real crime watch, possibly one with trained volunteers and ongoing education. If I’m correct, it’s about damn time. Gulfport does have one other Facebook group that has less bickering, casting aspersions and placing blame and more “be on the lookout” type of neighborhood watch bulletins, and while it’s not run the police department or partnered with them in any way, you may want to hop over and like the page. I mean, it isn’t nearly as entertaining a read as the other crime watch page, but it does seem to post more actual information about crime and safety (and lost dog) related occurrences, so that’s kind of useful.
I suggest this because Gulfport Crime Watch may not let you join their group if you can’t prove yourself. Before I continue, let me be clear: Many of my neighbors and friends and acquaintances belong to that group, and when I refer to Gulfport Crime Watch, I refer to the people managing the page, not the entire group. Which is now a “closed” Facebook group that has apparently decided to conduct interviews before allowing people to join the group. Now, I’m no longer in the group – apparently I’m part of the problem, which I’ve heard before from better – but from screen shots I’ve seen of the discussion taking place over there, the entire group gets to vote on every new member. That’s 218 people as of this afternoon, and before the admin will approve your request to join, you have to state why you want to join, whether you live in Gulfport, and so forth. If they determine your interest is, in essence, pure, then they will allow you to join.
They are currently debating whether or not to allow the editor of the local paper and the local reporter “in” to the group. I would suggest to them that they probably go ahead and give those two a pass, even though neither lives in Gulfport and even though one of them is a good friend. One of the former group administrators wrote “I remember a reporter. Kinda iffy” and I’m pretty sure he meant me, which is funny, because some of the posts in this group tell me the leadership fails to realize that had the admin deleted the first comment, there would have been no blog post, no city action, no cadre of angry and fearful citizens calling the city… in short, their lack of accountability hurt them, not my pulling back the sheet.
Making a crime watch group a “members-only” scenario smacks a little bit of a good ol’ boys club, and I’m not sure they aren’t making a whole lot more trouble for themselves. The new admin – who really does seem to want to get things refocused and under control but some of the inmates aren’t having any of that nonsense now that he’s giving them a voice in how they run the asylum – is so busy making rules and voting people on or off the island, it doesn’t seem there’s much crime watch going on over there anymore.
I hope fervently someone takes Chief Vincent up on his offer to start a legitimate crime watch program, one he feels confident supporting.
Some days I can’t believe humans actually managed to put a man on the moon, I really can’t.
Here’s a cute picture of a tiny opossum Scuppers brought me as a gift (don’t worry, the opossum was safely returned to nature.)
You’re going to need all that cuteness to remind you sometimes good things happen and make you smile. Because, quite honestly, this post will upset you. It should upset you.
Sometimes it’s harder to stay silent than I would like. This is one of those times.
Gulfport has a crime watch group. It is not, I should note, sanctioned by the police in any way, something Gulfport Police Chief Rob Vincent has gone out of his way to stress to the media. However, they use city facilities rent free (they meet in a facility for which the city typically charges rental fees), and on-duty police officers attend the meetings and speak and answer questions. In addition, their Facebook group has a shot of the entire Gulfport Police Department as its cover photo.
Before you read any further, please hear this: The Gulfport, Florida police department consists of good and kind men and women, and in 13 years of working with them, both professionally as a journalist and personally as a resident, I’ve never found a shred of anything to suggest we have an institutional problem with race relations in our departments. Never. Our officers are not part of this problem.
This post appeared on the Crime Watch Facebook group last week. Wednesday, I believe.
Sundown signs, for those of you who neither enrolled in Southern History college courses nor grew up in a town that had, as we now call it, “racial issues”, warned black people that if they dared set foot in that town after the sun set, they’d… well, quite honestly, they’d be lynched. Except they didn’t say “black” if they mentioned black people. They used another word, which I will not post here.
I left this crime watch group several months back. I grew tired of hearing people complain about “those kids” from Childs Park (which means black kids, because apparently Gulfport has no black people, which comes as a huge shock to many of my neighbors who – spoiler alert – happen to be black.) I got so tired of being angry at the page admins for allowing this and citing “free speech” which (another spoiler alert) isn’t what that means at all, Mr. Tim Spencer* (Tim Spencer runs the Facebook page and, as far as I can tell, the physical group).
But staying silent isn’t working. These people aren’t 87-year-old grandfathers who might spew a racial belief from their childhood but not fully understand it. They know what they’re saying. They’re the new breed of racist. They’re the most dangerous kind, more dangerous than the Aryan Nation or people who walk around with swastikas inked on their arm, because unless they show their ass, we don’t know. They’re fostering hate and allowing hate speech and not giving a rat’s red ass about how the black people who read that post feel, not just about those people, but Gulfport and everyone who lives and loves here.
To my knowledge, the city seemed somehow unaware of this post until this weekend. A resident contacted the council, police chief, and city manager, and Ward Two councilperson Christine Brown contacted the city manager (by the terms of Gulfport’s charter, elected officials cannot talk to anyone but charter staff – the city manager, attorney and clerk – about city matters). I have high hopes the city will take appropriate action, although I’m uncertain what they can do.
As for you, you can email the city council, police chief and city manager and ask them to stop allowing this group to use city facilities for free. Ask them to stop providing on-the-clock officers to this group. Remind them Gulfport has a history of tolerance, not just that dark spot that every southern town seems to have. Tell them we want our past to stay past. You can email them all at once at this link.
Oh, yeah… one more thing: Mr. Dino Della Noce owns South Pinellas Bicycles, where El Cap and I bring our bikes for repair. He does excellent work. Unfortunately, now that I know he’s a crazy fucking racist, we need a new bike shop. I encourage no violence (of course) but if you patronize South Pinellas Bicycles, STOP. And tell everyone you know this is a dangerous man who wants to set our lovely town back in time 60 years.
Hate has no place in my town.
*”Free speech” means the government can’t throw you in jail for expressing an opinion, but even that has exceptions. The First Amendment to the US Constitution says:
- Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The first amendment refers to government only. Free speech does not mean any private venue must allow you to say what you want. It doesn’t mean you can incite violent acts, ever. It means when someone spews hate speech online, the page manager can delete it. In fact, if you don’t, I believe you can get sued.
Some people in this world are Thelma and others? Well, they’re Louise.
“Afraid that she will be prosecuted, Louise decides to go on the run and Thelma accompanies her.” (source)
I am so not a Thelma. I am not the one who is persuaded. I am the persuader.
Case in point: My new (ish) iPhone.
Wait. Let’s back up for those of you playing the home game (a/k/a, those of you who don’t know me in real life.) I break things. Usually only things that cost me money to replace. Currently I own three Apple products. This morning, two of them had cracked screens. That’s not bad luck; that’s Cathy luck.
In March, I switched cell phone companies. To avoid getting nabbed for fraud (keep reading), let’s call the company “Dash Wireless.” (I know if you’re actually reading this, I’m not fooling you, but I have done no small amount of SEO copywriting and know this change will keep web bots from returning this post on searches for, um, Dash.) So I switch to Dash, and I, being clumsy as hell but also having learned from 41-plus years of being me, well, I buy the insurance. Because I kind of need a phone, as much as I hate it so much that when you call me, odds are your ring is the Darth Vader theme. Don’t take it personally; I just kind of resent being shackled to a phone. I am at the mercy of text, voice, and email. We used to live in caves, people.
Ahem. Where was I? Ah, yes, Dash. And insurance. And me, of course, dropping my phone. I sigh. I try for many months to make do, but the nature of the break along the back of my phone is that it’s somehow puffier, and my ear develops an inconvenient habit of muting the call/launching FaceTime/disconnecting the call, so I finally cave, pay the $200 insurance deductible – the Dash rep told me it would be $50, but whatever, there’s a cost associated with being me and of course it’s not $50 and of course I have no proof she told me that – and get my new phone.
I get this phone as El Cap and I are headed to Tennessee for a few days, so by the time I activate the phone, I’m in Macon, Georgia and have almost no reception. Same in Tennessee. When we get home I realize, um, hey, the only way people can hear me is if I talk to them on speaker phone. This, of course, is wildly inconvenient for those around me, so I call Dash and get directed to the local Dash store, where they look over my phone, agree that it’s a refurbished piece of junk and I need a new one. Of course, the crappy warranty refurbs they offer are back ordered, so they give me a bunch of paperwork and tell me I’ll get one in no less than a week, likely more.
That was December 15. Later that day, of course, I drop my phone and crack the screen. Because of course I do. I opt to take a wait-and-see attitude, because hey, the damn thing wasn’t working anyway and maybe I’ll catch a break. So yesterday my new phone – the one I couldn’t get three hours before I broke the screen on the non-functional one – arrives. I go to the store but never even get to sign in because the woman in the Dash reception area sees my screen and tells me I can’t get my warranty phone unless I pay another $200 claim to the insurance company.
“But I already paid that and y’all sent me a phone that doesn’t work. This one,” I say, gesturing to my phone.
“But the screen wasn’t cracked.”
“But it didn’t work anyway. I paid for a phone, the phone you sent didn’t work, and you said you couldn’t repair it, so what does it matter? I still paid for a phone that works and you sent me one that didn’t.”
“It doesn’t matter. You can finance a new phone if you’d like.”
I sighed (which is what I do a lot instead of opting to lose my shit) left the store, and called the insurance company, where two minions told me my situation certainly was frustrating, and I could get a new (read: refurbished) phone for $200. I tell them they’re not getting any more of my money (because at this point I’m pissed at myself, pissed at the Dash representative, and not at all happy with the condescending bitch on the phone who fails to see the difference between “frustrated” and “furious” and the pretense of “pleasant” is long gone) and hang up the phone. At this point I’d like to note I am sorely missing the days of slamming down a receiver (on the sort of phone that would also eliminate some of my other problems.)
That’s when I decide to – brainstorm – fix the screen and go back to the store the next day. Except I worry they’ll remember me, so the plan is for El Cap to go in on my behalf (we share an account) and trade in my phone. And then El Cap gets paged to go to work, because he’s a tow boat captain and Saturdays are apparently like Black Friday of boats not working, and I call Thelma.
Oh, that’s not her name, because the first thing she says to me when this is all over is “Is this going to be a column?” and I promised her it wouldn’t and while this isn’t a column, I still probably shouldn’t expose her secret identity because she’s my friend and also game for wacky capers, although, as you’re about to see, she really should be driving the getaway car, not robbing the bank.
I go to Thelma’s house. Thelma, who planned a perfectly relaxing day of reading in a hammock, comes out to greet me and I tell her, “I need you to commit cell phone fraud with me.”
She looks at her husband and her impressionable teenage daughter, sighs (not out of rage, like I do, but because she’s realizing, again, that she should never have me around her impressionable teenage daughter. Or she’s depressed she only attracts crazy people for friends. Hard to tell with sighing) and grabs her purse.
“OK,” I tell her on the way to the store. “You have to be me.” She closes her eyes briefly and gets out of the car with my phone. It is at that moment I realize I do not like waiting to see if the Great iPhone Caper of 2015 will work. I am, for lack of a better analogy, the one who robs the bank. I am a lousy “wait in the getaway car” partner; I’m positive everyone walking out of the store knows I’m trying to defraud the cell phone company (although, in all honesty, I don’t think many people would blame me.) I think of five different things to tell her, but she’s gone and I don’t want to show my face in the store in case they remember me. I then get the brilliant idea to text her, except, hey, I don’t have a phone. I reach for her phone, but I don’t know the passcode, which is actually a good thing because I’m pretty sure the tech, not Thelma, now has my phone and if he sees messages like “play it cool, Thelma!” he might get suspicious.
Ten minutes later she comes out to the car.
“OK,” she says, and she looks pale and wide-eyed and maybe a little ill. “They want to know things. I told them my purse was in the car.” She then asks for my wireless account passcode, the name of my first pet, and my license. I figure either she’s really committed to getting this phone for me or has a master plan to punish me for dragging her into this. I figure if she is stealing my identity, “identity theft” is actually a good enough reason to give my boss as to why I don’t have a phone come Monday, so I write down my passcode and my first pet’s name and hand over my purse.
After she goes in the store I realize we never gave Dash the real name of my first pet, but I have no way to tell Thelma this. It was not a good 15 minutes for me. I kept looking around, waiting for the cops to arrive, because there is no way anyone will believe Thelma is my driver’s license photo and it now occurs to me they may think she stole my phone and purse and that’s when I realize she has my purse. Which is my favorite purse, my Brahmin, and not inexpensive. That purse has never even touched the floor and now it’s headed for some grungy evidence locker. Also, Thelma has all my debit cards and my Discover card and my business AmEx and I don’t even have my phone to call her husband to tell him to bail her out. Worst. Friend. Ever.
But apparently the fact that Thelma looks less like me than Geena Davis does bothers no one in the Dash store, because she walks out of the store with my new iPhone. She gets in the car, hands me the phone, looks at me like she really wants to go back in time and not have moved to Gulfport, and says, “Here is your new iPhone. That. Was. Awful.”
Not ONLY did I give her the wrong secret answer, they actually looked at my license (me: 5’4″, Italian, dark hair; Thelma: NOT 5’4″, northern European, freckles), looked at her, looked at the license, went in the back, came back, went in the back again, and… came out with my phone. I’m pretty sure they knew it wasn’t me but didn’t know how to handle it, and since she did have the phone with the proper serial number, apparently figured, meh, what the hell? This is what happens when you pay people minimum wage, Dash.
They did, however, make Thelma choose a new nine-million-digit passcode for my account, and she randomly (but cleverly) grabbed my insurance card and gave them my insurance policy number. Which means if I have a phone issue in the future, I can now get a free mammogram. Or when I go for my mammogram, my left nipple will have its own ringtone. I don’t really know how passcodes work. Also, I probably should give that number to El Cap. In case he ever has to call the phone company. He doesn’t need a mammogram. I’m hoping.
(Also, a giant, huge, larger-than-life shout out to Tony at Gulfport’s Cell Phone Solutions, who fixed my screen for a fraction of what the mall guys charge and also, without looking at me in an “I told you so” tone of voice, told me they had great prices on Otterboxes. I now own a pink and white Otterbox, and I will now be bringing my cracked iPhone to Tony every time I break it, which I’m not even going to pretend won’t happen. Because it’s me, y’all. It’s kind of my thing.)
Also, when I told El Cap about this later, he suggested we should have gone to Radio Shack and bought walkie-talkies. This is why I love him. Also, I now totally know what to get Thelma for her birthday.
UPDATE: My mom just read this and sent me an email, which read:
So, Thelma and Louise in action. I should have warned her about the sofa you “returned” when you moved from Kissimmee. I’m beginning to believe you are not really my child.
That’s totally another post, y’all.