Monday, April 20, 2009

Fun With Email...

I received an email recently that made me laugh at first, and then it made me a little mad. As those of you who know me are aware, I've been job hunting for a year now after losing my corporate job due to a "restructuring". April 17th, 2009 was my one year anniversary of being unemployed. The email was so obviously a scam that it tickled me at first. But then I started thinking about all the folks out there in the same boat, the ones who maybe didn't recognize it as a scam and are desparate enough to try anything at this point, and I got a little miffed. So I am posting the email, along with my response, and the email address it came from. Feel free to use it to sign up for newsletters, join free online clubs and subscriptions, etc. Granted, it's a disposable address, so he's just going to delete it and move on, but I'm in a vengeful mood today and I think it would be fun. So let's fill his mailbox up with crap, shall we?

Dear Alan Simmons,

My name is Keith Morris and I represent Key Group Company.This letter confirms that your resume (found at has been duly processed and your skills completely meet our requirements for Financial Managervacancy.Key Group Inc. is a world-famous company founded and based in the USA,which deals with financial services like escrow services for buyers and sellersof online auctions around the world. We offer our services both on closedcommercial auctions where the number of buyers is not large and on,, - popular online auctions.

Financial Agent position is:- part-time (you can work only 2-3 hours a day (Monday through Friday). - work at home (all communication is online).

What do you need? Internet access and e-mail. This position is offered on a trial period (first month) basis.

You will receive training and online support while working and being paid.Trial period is paid $2300/month. Also you will be keeping 8% commission fromevery payment received from customer and successfully processed. Total income,with the current volume of clients, will be up to $4.5k per month. After first 30 days base salary will be increased up to $3k per month, plus 8%commission! You may ask for additional hours after trial period, or proceed full-time. If you are interested in our offer and would like to learn more about FinancialAgent position, please send the filled form to job.keith.key@gmail.comOur representative will contact you within 24 hours.

First name:_____________________
Last name:___________________________
Country of residence:__________________
Contact phone:______________________
Preferred call time:_______________________

We found your resume at This letter confirms that yourresume has been duly processed and your skills completely meet our requirementsfor the Financial Manager vacancy.

Best regards,

Keith Morris
Key Group Inc.


Hi Keith,

Thanks very much for your offer. I'd like to get a little more information about Key Group Inc. After searching for your website, I found many companies called Key Group, Inc., but none that offer the services you refer to in your email. Most likely a technicality, although I can't help but wonder why an email from a world-famous company came from a disposable Gmail account rather than the company's domain. Oh, well. Another technicality, I'm sure. I am extremely excited to learn that my skills as a replenishment analyst have prepared me for the world of high finance! And imagine my enthusiasm at learning I would be earning $2300 plus an 8% commission a month for 2-3 hours a day! It almost seems...well, too good to be true. I can't wait to receive my next email from you, telling me about the history of your fine organization, the corporate culture, where you're based, and a few details about the Financial Manager position that I'm anxious to fill.

Warmest regards,



Funny, I haven't heard back from him.


A Boy and His...Duck?

As a lover of animals, I’ve had some great pets throughout the years, but none quite as memorable—or unusual—as my pet duck. Ours was an unlikely bond formed through a series of what most would describe as far-fetched events. In the spring of 1974, my parents and I were at my grandparents’ home on our property in Pope, Mississippi, where we spent most of our weekends. We had fifty-six acres of land, which included three ponds, a dozen or so cattle, and the single-wide trailer where my grandparents lived. My parents built a small cabin on a hill overlooking the biggest of the three ponds. It wasn’t grand, but it was fun. It had a wood burning stove, a bed, and a bathroom. What else do you need, really? They’d also built a small doghouse for the handful of ducks that had taken up residence on the big pond. We had stuffed the inside with hay and made it comfortable for them. We had suspected for a while that the female was soon to lay eggs, so we checked the nest every weekend. One morning we approached the little house to find duck feathers outside the entrance. The ducks were nowhere to be seen. Inside were three little speckled eggs, two of which had been destroyed. It was probably coyotes, my parents said, that had gotten to them. My mother decided we were going to give the one remaining egg every chance, so we took it back to Grandma and Grandpa’s chicken coop and put it in the nest of a setting hen who was already on a couple of her own eggs.

We checked the egg on every visit to see if the hen had discarded it, but it was still secure in the nest. Finally about a month later we crept into the coop to see how our little one was doing. A sickening feeling washed over me when I saw a little wet clump of hairy duckling on the cool dirt floor of the coop. The egg had hatched, and the hen, seeing that this wasn’t one of hers, had scratched him out of the nest. We first assumed he was dead, but then a little shiver rocked his tiny frame. My mom, scooping him up and holding him against her chest, told me to get a box and put a blanket in it. We set up a makeshift incubator with a shop light clamped to the box to keep the little guy warm. We fed him with an eyedropper at first until he graduated to chick feed. It wasn’t very long before the egg that we didn’t have much hope for became a fuzzy little duckling, stumbling around his cardboard townhouse, peeping constantly. Since school was now out for the summer, I begged my parents to let me take him home with us when we returned to Memphis. They finally caved, and when we left that Sunday afternoon, I set the little cardboard box between my feet in the floorboard of our truck. As the trees and mile markers of Interstate 55 flew by, I began to think about what to name him.

Over the next several days, we played in my Mr. Turtle pool in the back yard—oddly enough, his least favorite thing to do. I would toss him in the six-inch-deep water and he would come racing out, wings flapping and feet paddling like mad. We tried other venues—the bathtub, the sink, a washtub—to acclimate him to water and swimming, but got the same result. I’d never seen a duck who didn’t like water. Mom said he was daffy, and it stuck. Daffy. What he lacked in aquatic proclivity, however, he made up for with personality. No matter where I was, that’s where he wanted to be. When I sat in my room and listened to music or talked on the phone, he was there to play with the telephone cord or slide around on the pile of cassettes on my bed. When I watched TV and snacked on the couch in the living room, he sat next to me, picking at whatever food I had on my plate. And when I walked next door to nap in our neighbors’ hammock, he was right behind me the whole way, his little webbed feet slapping the ground as fast as they could. As I settled into the hammock, I placed him gently on my chest, where he stayed, content to nap with me while the warm June breeze blew through the trees, the rustle of leaves gently singing us to sleep.

As he grew, it became more and more obvious that the best thing for him was to take him back to the pond on our property. My parents told me repeatedly that it was time to turn him loose and let him be a duck. The only problem was that I hadn’t taught him how to be a duck. He was more like a dog, and a spoiled one at that. During the trip back to Mississippi to release him, he sat on my lap in the truck and stared out the window until we both went to sleep. When we finally arrived, the abrupt silence of turning off the gravel road onto the soft grass of the pasture woke us both. We sat him on the ground and expected him to take to his new surroundings. But he didn’t. He continued to follow me wherever I went. Thinking he might follow me into the pond, I waded in up to my waist, but he wanted nothing to do with it. He paced along the edge of the pond, as if he were trying to figure out how to get to me without getting in the water. We tried several times to put him in the pond, but each time he’d come flapping and squawking out like he’d done in the pool. It’s not like he couldn’t swim—he was a duck, whether he knew it or not—he just didn’t like to. Eventually my father had to push him into the water with a broom and circle the pond to block his exit. After Dad made several trips around the pond, Daffy stayed in the water, but I could feel him giving me the stink eye. This is your fault, he seemed to be saying. If you’d taught me how to act like a duck, I’d be happy now in the water instead of miserable because my butt is wet. As we drove off to visit with my grandparents for a while and let Daffy continue to adjust to his new environment, I felt like I was abandoning him, and I was sure he felt the same way. We stayed at my grandparents’ for a while, and then it was time to head back home. I wanted to go back to the pond to check on Daffy, but my parents said he needed time alone to learn how to be a duck. My grandparents promised to check on him until we came back. Reluctantly, I climbed in the truck and we started the longest trip back home I could ever remember.

The following week, I came in from outside and Mom was on the phone with Grandma. Just before I entered the kitchen I overheard her say, “Probably the coyotes…” Then her eyes met mine and she quickly looked away. My eyes already wet, I stumbled down the hall to my room and flopped onto my bed, waiting for the inevitable. A few minutes later I heard Mom hang up the phone and walk down the hall to my room. She sat on the edge of my bed and explained to me what Grandma had told her—that Daffy was gone. Grandma and Grandpa had looked for him, but he was just gone. I didn’t let on that I had heard about the coyotes, but I suspect she knew. She rubbed my back gently, and then quietly slipped out of the room. As I lay on the bed, I blinked away tears that burned and stung. My mouth tightened and my chin quivered as I broke into wet heaving sobs that soaked my bedspread and left salty streaks down my face. In time I would come to understand that even if I had successfully taught Daffy to act like a duck, to be a duck, this was still likely to happen. It didn’t seem fair. Mom and Dad explained that it was part of life. The worst part, I added, and they agreed.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Just Another Saturday

Today was an interesting day. Mary and I both woke up a little snappy, but not so much at each other as at the world in general. We recently discovered a mammoth pile of items in our garage that, for months, we had been intending to return to various stores, so we decided that would be the most efficient use of our Saturday. Stupid people really get under our skin in a way that makes it nearly impossible for us to resist messing with them. And little things kept triggering our aggravation during the course of the day, fueling our already-established ire. An unbelievably slow driver on the highway held up traffic for miles. Can you not see the speed limit signs posted every twenty feet that say “70 MPH”? Don’t the countless cars passing you like you were sitting still provide you with even the tiniest hint that you need to go faster than 48 freakin’ miles per hour? Then a Hummer with what had to be at least 28 kids in it was front of us at the McDonald’s drive thru. The tiny little female driver stuck her head out the window, on her cell phone, and proceeded to peruse the menu board as if she were seeing these selections for the first time. She then attempted to ask questions about menu items while still carrying on a cell phone conversation, a situation I wouldn’t wish on any drive-thru employee. She continued to hem and haw over the menu with a look of genuine confusion on her face. For the love of Pete—it’s McDonald’s, lady! They’ve only been in business for 50 years! If you don’t know by now what comes on an Egg McMuffin, you should have your U.S. citizenship revoked and be forced to live with a remote tribe in South Africa, where they have to order at the drive-thru speaking with only a series of clicking sounds. Eventually, we made it around, picked up our food, and parked in a nearby spot. After finishing up, we started the long day of returns.

The art of customer service has deteriorated over the years, and we’ve all become so conditioned that we’re not even surprised anymore when someone is annoyed that they’re being forced to do their job. Most of the customer service desks we stood at were staffed by girls in their late teens, girls who, if I had to guess, were forced by their parents to get a job to show that they were capable of being responsible. “If Daddy and I are going to pay for you to go backpacking in Europe for a year, you’re going to have to show us that you’re a big girl.” We trudged in and out of one store after another, each more frustrating than the last, sending our aggravation to dangerous levels. But, as is most often the case, instead of taking it out on each other, we stood back-to-back—figuratively speaking—and let the world have it. Or at least those within range. I dropped Mary off at a clothing store to return some jeans and a shirt while I scooted across the road to an electronics store to return an adapter that didn’t fit the cable I had intended it for. In my return episode, Jeremy, the “friendly associate” at the return desk, took a look at my receipt and, noting it was several months old, asked if there was a problem with it and why I had kept it so long. It didn’t matter why I had kept it so long; I had the receipt and I just wanted to return it. I tried to keep from coming back with a smart answer, but it was out before I could stop it. I calmly explained that I had been in Japan for the last several months competing in a Sumo wrestling tournament and, upon my return, discovered that the adapter still needed to be returned. This seemed to throw him, as it should have, and he cocked his head like a beagle hearing the sound of a kazoo.
“Dude, you’re a Sumo wrestler?”
“Yep. Been slammin’ the fat for nearly twenty years now.”
“That’s awesome! And you were in Japan?”
“Downtown Tokyo. At the Satin Thong Sumo Arena.”

Now enamored with my international celebrity status, he processed my return with an almost giddy enthusiasm, the way he might if I were Tom Hanks or Vin Diesel. Once the transaction was complete, I offered a slight bow and squeezed out a very Japanese-sounding “Arigato.” Moments later I picked Mary up from her return, and as she got in the car I was still laughing and couldn’t help but share with her.
She shrieked, “Get out!! I just did the same thing!”
“You told the sales chick you were a Sumo wrestler?”
“No! I told her I’d been in a coma.”
“You what?!”
“She asked me why I was returning the clothes, and I told her I’d bought them just a few days before an accident where I got hit in the head with a piece of lumber. I was in a coma for four months, and when I woke up my clothes didn’t fit.”
I stared at her for a moment, slack-jawed and wide-eyed, as if she had a squid on her head.
“What?!” she demanded. “She should have just returned them and kept her pie hole shut!”
“Is your blood sugar low? You’re a little moody.”
“No, my blood sugar’s not low! Although I am a little hungry. Are you hungry?”
“I am, actually,” I said. “What sounds good?”
“Let’s try the new pizza place.” Making the loop out of the mall, we turned onto the main road and began heading for the restaurant. As we approached a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant, Chuck E. himself was out on the sidewalk waving to everyone passing by.
“We could go to Chuck E. Cheese’s,” I said playfully.
“Here’s what I think about that idea,” she said, and casually gave him a one-finger salute.
I sputtered, “Did you just—I can’t believe you just flipped off Chuck E. Cheese!! What kind of person flips off Chuck E. Cheese?!”
“Well, what kind of restaurant has a rat for a mascot? I mean, really?! Besides, I’m moody, remember?”


Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Phenergan Song

I was beginning to worry about her. That is, until we were on our way home and she started making up a song about Phenergan. At that point, I began to feel a bit of relief and even amusement at her sudden change in demeanor. A migraine that wouldn’t go away had been plaguing Mary for days, and it wasn’t getting any better. She had called the doctor’s office earlier to make an appointment so she could get some relief. I drove her to her appointment, where the doctor gave her a shot of Phenergan, a drug with powerful sedative properties, after which the doctor asked her to hang around for about fifteen minutes to make sure she didn’t have an allergic reaction to it. As we sat in the waiting room, I looked at her prescriptions. One was for Tylox, a major pain reliever, and another was for more Phenergan—wait, did I read that right?—suppositories? Ok, first… eww. Second, why on earth suppositories? And third, the prescription was written as follows:
30 Phenergan suppositories, one by mouth daily as needed. By mouth? Again, eww.
“Sweetie, did you know that she gave you suppositories?” I whispered.
“Thoshe go innn your booty!” she exclaimed, slurring and giggling, causing everyone in the office to look our way with curious glances.
“Yes, Pumpkin, I know,” I said quietly as I tried to contain her. “The doctor prescribed suppositories instead of pills for you. Did you know that?”
Turning to me with glassy eyes and a silly grin, she looked around before loudly whispering, “She gave me pills for my booty, but that’s icky, so I’m, I’m… not eeeven gonna get that one filled.” Then, with a giggle and a surreptitious glance around the room, she put a finger to her lips and slurred a stealthy “Shhhhhh.” As Mary was quickly slipping into a Phenergan–induced stupor, I thought it best to head home, as it was clear by now that the only reaction she was having was not the kind that required medical attention. We gathered our things and headed for the door so I could get her to bed to sleep it off. Before we could make it out, she turned around and waved to the remaining patients in the waiting room. “Bye, everbodeee!” It’s amazing what one shot can do. Just an hour earlier she was quiet and sullen. Her face looked weak and overwhelmed, eyes tired and squinting. But now, in the car headed to the pharmacy, she’s giggling and singing like a four year old.

Phenergan, I love Phenergan… but nothing rhymes with Phenergan…why is that?
Maybe cinnamon, or cinna-mergen, but it’s reeeeeally hard to rhyme words with Phenergan They gave me a shot in the booty—and it HURT, too! Hee hee… I said booty
Phenergan, Phenergan… even though it makes my head spin-ergen, I love Phenergan

As we pulled up to the drive through window at our local pharmacy, I saw Angie, one of the techs we know and love, coming to the window. Before I could warn her of Mary’s exceedingly carefree condition, Mary leaned forward in her seat and blurted out, “Hiiii, Angieeee! I got a shot of Phenergan in the booty! And there are no words, noooo words that rhyme with Phenergan, didjoo know that?” Angie raised her eyebrows and looked at me.
“Wow, you did get a shot, didn’t you?” she replied.
“In the booty!” Mary repeated. Handing Angie the prescription, we chatted about this and that while Mary continued singing in the background. As we were waiting, Angie handed us some candy to try.
“It’s like a Heath bar, but not as hard. Crunchier. It’s really good,” I said, munching on it. Mary had stopped singing and was licking the chocolate and toffee off of her fingers.
“Mmmmm, chocolate,” she said, her eyes darting back and forth as if plotting a search for more. I paid for the drugs, exchanged a smile and a laugh with Angie, and we headed for home. The singing had come to an end, and Mary was now in a heavy-eyed daze. As she staggered into the house, she said, “Do you wanna see where I got my shot? They shot me right, right here…” She fiddled clumsily trying to find where her shirt ended and her jeans started. “It’s right here on my booty, and it hurt!” As she searched unsuccessfully for her wound, spinning awkwardly like a dog trying to catch its own tail, I steered her toward the bedroom.
“I bet you’re ready to lie down for a while, aren’t you?” I said soothingly. Raising both arms over her head touchdown-style, she giggled, “Nappytime!!” She quickly got settled on the bed, covered up with a quilt, and asked for an extra blanket. When I returned with it, she had thrown the quilt aside.
“Do you not want the quilt, sweetie?” I asked.
“I do, but, um, I want the blanket on me first, and then, and then the quilt, um, on top of it ‘cause it’s better that way.” As I tucked her in, she sobered slightly. “You’re not gonna write about this, are you?”
“Of course not, sweetie. Night-night.”