Stamp Man

I’ve had my fair share of interesting slash dirty slash scary homes but this week I officially broke the seal on my first hoarder. It’s amazing how regardless of what you think you are about to walk into, you are always wrong. It’s like trying to guess what a first date is going to be like. “His name is Steve, I bet that means he’s tall and he likes animals. I bet he orders a steak because he’s a man’s man. He’ll be super interested in me and open all the doors just like a gentleman should. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with Steve!”
Sorry girl, Steve will most likely end up being a guy with short man’s syndrome and an aversion to dairy. He’ll want to tell you all about his crummy job as a used car salesman and fail to pick up the check. Now compare this to walking into a random home. Two-story, fresh cut lawn with a garden off to the side. If you were new to this job you would assume that the family inside would be well-adjusted and successful. Maybe they would be polite enough to offer you a beverage when you sit down at their kitchen table. What if (Gasp!) they are childless millionaires like Daddy Warbucks and they want to adopt a nice young lady to share their wealth with…???

Nope.

I won’t assume what the situation actually is, because that is exactly what I am telling you you shouldn’t do. Besides, ultimately I would be wrong. Just know that it is not ever the above scenario.

My appointment this week started out as usual: I pulled up to the address and slammed the last drops of my diet mountain dew as I put the car in park. I always emerge the same way to every home I go to. It’s ridiculous. I open the door slowly, grab my phone and business card and stand up smiling like an idiot. I feel like there is always the possibility that joe schmo is looking at me through the blinds of his home so I want to make sure I look like I’m a jolly sort of person. So anyway, I stand there for a second, looking at the trees and the home with this shit-eating grin on my face, but as I look about, I try to squeeze in a look of concern, like I’m thinking hard about my job and what I need to accomplish to help this mr. joe schmo. Still smiling, I will reach in to grab my bag, close the door and approach the front door. If they have a doorbell I will give it a good buzz then take a few steps away from the entrance- I want to make sure joe doesn’t think I’m going to jump down his throat. If the homeowner is some sort of pariah and doesn’t have a doorbell I will literally do the whole cutesy knock thing which is apparently called “Shave and a Haircut and Two Bits” and also apparently is translated roughly to “Go f*** Yourself, a**hole” in Mexico. I’m ok with this.

As I approached this particular home last week I had what you could call an “unsettling” feeling. I was trying not to prejudge but as I approached the broken porch (which was littered with trash by the way) I was overcome with what can only be described as the smell of urine. No, not cat urine. Not dog urine. Not even bird urine. Nope, this smelled like good old fashioned human urine.

Hmmmm.

Unfortunately for me, I was too busy doing my little Mexican knocking dance and grinning like a fool to let that register.

Ever seen Homestar Runner’s Teen Girl Squad? The clip where the jock is like “you must be girls”? Do yourself a favor:

Anyway, everytime I introduce myself to someone I’m like “You must be X” with that same voice in my head.

This particular time, an elderly gentleman wearing a hawaiian shirt and boasting a very large toupee slowly opened the door and looked at me like I had a horse’s head. “Hello There!” I said cheerily, “You must be X, Were you expecting me?” Duh dude, you should’ve been expecting me.

“Oh my, I guess I forgot,” He said with a concerned voice. “Come on in though, I was just cleaning up.”

No guys, no he was not. Or, if he was, he should’ve started thirty years ago.

I stepped into the foyer, or what I assume used to be a foyer, and instantly all the hairs on my neck stood up. There was stuff EVERYWHERE. Stacks and Stacks of newspapers and lamps and… well, name it. The customer motioned for me to sit down on the couch. (Couch?  What couch?) Luckily for me there was a small space on the edge of the couch that I was able to ease into without disturbing the carefully thought out trash heap behind me.

“So I’m a stamp collecter” The guy said as he raised his arm and motioned to what I can only assume was some giant stamp he envisioned on the other side of the room. I nodded vigorously and said something to the effect of “That’s the most interesting thing I have ever heard of in my life.” As he let the wave of his arm linger I noticed a stamp haphazardly stuck on the underside of his forearm. God only knows how long that had been there.

As I pulled my gaze away from his arm I noticed the floor, which happened to be covered with what I assume was the guy’s stamp collection, because it was littered with what had to be hundreds of dollars worth of little postage stamps.

Stamp man then went into a monologue about how his wife hated him and the guy who lived upstairs was a criminal, blah blah blah.   All the while I was thinking “I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE NOW THIS GUY IS SCREWED UP WHAT IS THAT IN THE CORNER MORE STAMPS?”  Long story short (no it’s really not long I was only there five minutes) I found some excuse to bounce “Oh hey I hear there’s a sale at the Salvation Army, I’ve gotta go!  Maybe see you there?”, handed the guy my card and peaced out.  He sat there, fixated on his imaginary stamp on the other end of the room and asked if I could let myself out.   Yep.  I certainly can.

Business

Dear gentleman who was condescending to me,
Just because you live in a massive, modern home that indicates you have a lot of money, does not mean I cannot tell you are a hoarder. Yes, you have an accent. Yes, you are dressed nicely. When I try to make conversation about what you do for a living and you answer “business” I find that amusing (I’m laughing AT you by the way) but more so, insulting.
Following our visit, sending me a long email with various demands does not help our relationship. Also, ending the message with a list of “business terms” that you say I must understand or I have no business (badum ching) coming back pretty much tops my level of tolerance for you.
What is it you are compensating for? Are you sad? Does the happy sign in your front yard indicating your small farm agitate you? It looks so pleasant- does that make you mad? Does your problem lie with women? Humans? Non-businessmen? Cheer up Mr. Businessman. Life is ok. Do the rest of society a favor too and please don’t raise your three children to be like you.

Best
Me

Animals

My fire may have burned out with this one. Currently I am sitting in my well-lit apartment, chatting with my dog and on my second beer. This is a happy time. Much contrasted to last night at a similar hour, sitting on the floor of said apartment, lights off, staring at my dog, sober.

What on earth could cause a grown woman, of only *slight* mental instability, to go through such a dramatic 24 change? Well… a lot of stuff… but I’d like to focus on one part in particular.

Yesterday’s tasks were of minimal effort, not a great deal to be elaborated on. My primary problem seemed to encompass the lack of civility of an entire portion of our society. In layman’s terms: Screw the city of ****.

(I can’t offend an entire city, so just pick a name)

Normal human problem- I had to use the restroom. —Side note: am I the only one who uses the term ‘restroom’ along with my father? Is this a midwestern thing?–
Anyway, I had more than an hour before my appointment to find a location to suit my needs and then relax. Restroom. Read. Eat a snack.

First stop:
“Wow! my gas tank is on empty…. beeeettter go get some gas and hey they’ll have a restroom!”

FALSE. They obviously have “facilities” however the two guys at the register pause, look at each other – LITERALLY LOOK AT EACH OTHER- and then look back at me, in unison “No, not for the public.”

Alrighty, I suppose I am public. No worries, I’ll get gas and find a restroom somewhere else.

Second stop:
“Wow…. they really don’t have a lot of places around here- closest Dunkin Donuts is 10 minutes away, that’s fine. Bodily circumstances becoming a little more urgent but hey… I’ll stop, do what I need to do and grab a coffee”
NO I WON’T. Accompanying the gigantic sign saying “Customers ONLY” is one taped over it, haphazardly sharpied saying “So Sorry! Fuera De Servico”

K. Fine. I actually laughed out loud next to some donut junkies and pointed at the sign. “Figures!” and rolled my eyes.

Third stop:
I now have 15 minutes to my scheduled visit. Crunch time. Who never lets me down? The GrOcErY sToRe!!! Always there to meet my needs and give me an excuse to buy an economy size bag of pistachios or dog treat. Priorities.
I walk into the door with the obligatory ‘I’m here with serious shopping business to buy food for myself or people that need it’ while crazy-eyeing all angles of the building. Aisle 1? Aisle 12? The baked goods section? WHERE IS IT???
Gasp…. I don’t see an immediate sign… No worries, I am never above asking. I approach a group of three employees, all young enough to be my stupid pre-teen children if I had decided that they as HUMANS might have been WORTH IT.
“Oh hey guys! Any chance you know where the restroom is?”

They looked at me like I had four heads. After a pause where I increased my smile intensity and nodded as if we were all sharing some unspoken information one of the unwanted pregnancies sighed as if I was the worst thing that had ever walked into the store and lazily shrugged toward the customer service desk.

“You have to get a key”

Thank YOU! (F*** YOU!)

I’m going to fast forward this part because it’s boring. This is a money order spot/pay your electric bill spot/buy you lotto spot. I only had 4 people in front of me. In front of them was a sign that said:

Pay Customers,
You cannot use the restroom without the following:
A valid ID
A cell Phone
A set of car keys
Thank you for your cooperation.

I have all those things. I think everyone has those things. Everyone also (I think) has to use the restroom at one point or another.

WHAT ARE THEY AFRAID CUSTOMERS ARE GOING TO DO TO THE RESTROOM?

Anyway. I was privileged enough to use the facilities. They were on par with a porta-potty. I was both humiliated and left with zero time to buy my pistachios because I was late to my appointment.

Lovely town.

Tea Party

Just spent my visit having a tea party with a legit wooden kitchen set from India and it’s owner, a 4 year old girl in a butterfly dress. For some reason my faux interest in the marshmellow tea she was serving me blossomed into a 4 course birthday meal. It was unclear whose birthday we were actually celebrating, although we sang the song 6 times.

Let me make a quick note to point out that as this was occuring both parents were silently hanging out off to the side. My guess is they were both amused and relived to have myself and their precocious child off their freaking backs.

To add to my level of discomfort the future chef kept referring me to a Barbie and vigorously nodding at her parents. After a while the urge to point out the personal grooming I have to succomb to became almost too much to bear. I feel like telling a child that someday she can be like me if she plucks her face daily and pours chemicals on her hair is damanging to their mental growth. Or, at least it distracts from the focus she needs to become a surgeon.

The penguin

14b8931fccf64bb5a5600156e0f095c3Once upon a time, I had the pleasure and stress of being shadowed by a fellow sales rep during my training. Let’s call him Chris, because that was his name. Chris was young, and happened to be rocking the “Justin Bieber hair-side-swoop” that was 1 part cool and 3 parts strange when he suddenly tried to sell you something. He and I had a few good runs, usually uneventful. One of our last homes, not so much.

Sooo…. setting the stage…Chris and I standing on the porch of our designated home. No one seemed to be there, which happens on occasion, when down the street we hear “I’M HERE!” A slow-moving gentleman, wearing what appears to be a child’s backpack, is crossing the street, waving both arms in the air.

The man, in his Eastern European accent, apologizes for being late and invites us into the foyer. After a few moments of small talk he wanders toward the kitchen and indicates we should follow.

I’m really trying to figure out how to sum up this next part to maximize the creepiness- ever seen The Blues Brothers? Of course you have. Ominous nun, tiny dark room, hellfire, rulers, all that bit. This was no ordinary kitchen, this was some sort of Slovakian, born-again, recruitment dwelling.

Chris and I sit down at the tiny card table, my shoulder knocking into a massive canvas of a close up Jesus, wearing a crown of thorns and staring down at us. The placement wasn’t a coincidence. Directly across from me sat Chris and his new friend, Jesus sculpture on a cross. Unfortunately for Chris, the string supporting Jesus sculpture seemed a bit loose, allowing him to hang at a 45 degree angle, directly eyeing Chris’s haircut.

Sinking slowly in to the fold-up chairs, we held our bags to our chests and commented on the great decor. The customer stood directly over the two of us and mumbled something about his father coming home.

Pause. (In very thick accent) “Have you found God?”

…….

Chris and I: “Oh ya, definitely, yup, mmhmm!”

Customer swiftly starts in on spiritual dialogue, grabbing his Dora the Explorer attache to reveal a bible.

Papa customer then appears, poking his head around the door frame and giving us a confused smile. “Ahoj….?” He says in Slovak, and then continues on in Slovak because apparently, we looked like friends of his. *Note, even after we made it clear we did not understand him, he continues his questions with his hands raised up like he was saying “Ya, know?”

So to fast track this story- Customer all the sudden announces he has to move his car. “It’ll only take 15 minutes.”

Without ceremony, he leaves, instructing his father that he is to take us into the basement to take a look at the electrical panel. Still looking confused, papa customer smiles, and summons us toward a door in the back.

Speaking Slovak the entire time, he opened the door and started the descent. The staircase continued the theme of the home, completely papered with images of the virgin Mary and ending at what appeared to be a wall of boxes. Nope, not a wall, the beginning of a tunnel. An actual box tunnel. Reaching the ceiling. Box tunnel that reached the ceiling. Turning a corner, I remember looking back at Chris, who gave me a goofy smile and thumbs up, totally ignorant of the fact that we were, in fact, about to die.

Slovak. Slovak. Slovak. Blah Blah Blah. Papa customer points to the electrical panel in a space void of any boxes, but next to what appeared to be some sharp tools. As I nodded and leaned forward to take a look, I thought of Jesus sculpture upstairs and made number of quick promises in exchange for safe passage back to my car.

Success! Thank you sculpture Jesus! Emerging from below moments later, we relocated to a blue, plastic covered couch and smiled at papa customer until original customer returned. For some reason he decided to disclose he had bad credit, to which we responded “See ya” and left.

Sure, I’ll follow you, naked man.

Starbucks thought:

So… what’s the deal with MoonCheese?  Am I right?  It’s obviously not from the moon.  They make it round to give the appearance of an orbital body, however from the minimal amount of exposure I’ve had looking at this item, it’s a bag of pepper jack cheese.  Which is pretty great, except then we have to explore how they can let it hang out in room temperature.   How do you do it, Starbucks?

I’ve had a fairly unexciting day (see above) so I figured I reach into the bank.  Long ago, in a galaxy far far away I had the pleasure of going to a home that left me a little befuddled.

*Knock knock*

Man opens door.  Naked.  Ohh wait no, I forgot, he was holding a bathmat around his waist.

“Oh… hello…..is this a bad time?”

The elderly gentleman proceeded to angrily ask who I was, but then turn around (not really trying to adjust the mat) and start shuffling down the foyer. Insisting that I follow him into, what I can only assume, is the last room I will ever see. Cue longest pause ever as I looked at naked man, looked back out to the cheerful neighborhood outside, naked man, cheerful outside, naked man again.

If you’re picturing what this home looks like (dirty, dark, cluttered, some weird dolls laying around) you are WRONG. Well-lit and squeaky clean. This somehow did not quell the inner alarms that were SCREAMING at me that THIS IS NOT NORMAL. Oh well. I start toward the living room and this guy doesn’t even turn around to see if I’m there, just disappearing into a bedroom yelling how he’s glad he thought to grab the bathmat before he opened the door. Me too, sir.

Naked man proceeds to appear not fully clothed, but in the process of putting his legs in his Levis. He looks at me accusingly and says he has no idea where his wife is.

“I had some problems this morning and had to go to the hospital. They gave me a bunch of medicine. She was supposed to be there but she’s missing.”

O rly?

Instead of calling in a missing person report though this guy sits down across from me and wants me to give him the whole sales schpeal, which I am not down to do.

“Oh my goodness, you have NO IDEA where your wife is?”

I keep asking this, a little alarmed that this guy is hopped up enough to not only lose his pants but his FREAKING WIFE.

After a tango of me repeating my concern and him telling me to “sell him something” I decide this visit has run it’s course and politely pry myself away. Naked man looks disappointed and promises to call once he finds his wife. The End.

Title? Meh.

Life on the road… Just your average 20 something, shit wait 30.. in an undisclosed area, peddling an undisclosed product.  Scenic views, caffeinated drinks and a high level of flexibility.  The selling point?  Sitting down with your average/notsoaverage homeowner every day.  Joe Schmo never ceases to deliver.  This is just an opportunity to point out some of the more interesting situations I have found myself in, including but not limited to:  a pants-less man (man minus his pants),  a loaded grandfather and a “Saw”- style basement, complete with creepy Virgin Mary shrine.   What will I get into next?!?!?!?!…