What a Waste

Our community has bulk pick-up every week.  I know I’m lucky, as many communities have no bulk pick-up at all.  Heck, my Dad’s tony city has none so residents have to schlep it somewhere, which can be a real PITA.

This morning I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful wood bed at the end of someone’s driveway.  It looked to be in very good condition, and even if it wasn’t I’d have schlepped it home if I had the room to store it.

It’s truly amazing to me what people put by the curb.  Perfectly usable items, and occasionally they find their way off the curb and into my car.  Some I sell, and some I keep, but either way they aren’t taking up unnecessary space in a landfill.

Just because you don’t want to take the time or spend the money to repair something doesn’t mean it’s  trash.  Unless your dog peed on it or it’s smashed into a hundred pieces someone else can probably use it, and be thrilled to have it.

I understand wanting to get rid of unwanted items, I really do.  But  how much effort does it take to donate something?  A phone call will see the veterans, Salvation Army or one of a thousand church organiations come to your house and pick it up.  You can even get a tax deduction!

There’s also Craigslist, where you can sell your item and make a few dollars.  And Freecycle, where someone who thinks your trash is treasure will come and take it off your hands.  Both of these options take minimum effort, as it takes about two minutes to post a listing.  Yes there can be pitfalls to using these services, but even though I’ve been burned I still think they are very much worth utilizing…

And you can make someone’s life better or easier or prettier.

And you don’t have to schlep it to the curb.

And there will be more space in the landfills.

And my garage.


You Bet Your Ass I’ll Return That

Yesterday my sister-in-law invited us over to watch the Dolphin game and to enjoy her Most Awesomest Clam Chowder Ever. I was asked to bring dessert, and when asked to do so it’s usually a homemade delight of some sort. I was being lazy, though, and decided to stop and pick something up on the way.

Husband and Son waited in the car while I chose two inexpensive but yummy-looking desserts. One was a pre-sliced marble pound cake, guaranteed fresh with a sell by date of October 23rd. It seemed safe…

It was not. It was AWFUL. Pound cake is supposed to be very moist, but this was dry and crumbly. I knew immediately I was going to return it.

My saying so started Husband’s teasing. “You wouldn’t BELIEVE the stuff she returns, ” he announced. Everyone laughed about it, including me, but it got me thinking.

Am I entitled to return the tings I return?

This is the second thing in the last few days I’d said I was returning. There are scallops sitting in my refrigerator now waiting to be returned. I occasionally purchase them at this particular store that sells them for $4.99/lb. I cooked them the day after I bought them, and they smelled terrible. I’ve already called the store and told them I’m returning them, as I knew would not be able to get back right away. Why should I spend $5 for their rancid scallops?

I’ll also return things I don’t use. I’ve returned unused hamburger and hamburger buns to Costco after overbuying for Son’s birthday party.

Here’s another similar type of return: Walmart offers a satisfaction guarantee on their Great Value products. I like to try generics to see if they’re as good as the brand names, and if they are I happily switch. We’ve become big fans of their raisins, raisin bran and several other products.

But I had no problem whatsoever with returning their Crystal Light iced-tea knockoff that we opened and tried and which, according to Husband, “tasted like ASS”.

And it doesn’t end there. I’ve returned gifts I’ll never use, and even returned other people’s stuff.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with returning something that isn’t as advertised, or that I no longer need. Why should I pay for sub-par merchandise? If my cake is stale or my scallops rancid I’m going to return it, even if I’ve opened it. I know lots of people would just toss these things and say, “lesson learned.” I choose not to. I’ll learn the lesson and put the money back in my pocket, thankyouverymuch. I’m not embarrassed about it, and I don’t think I need to be.

That Ain’t No Singer

Every Wednesday is bulk pickup day in my neighborhood. In the past I’ve been known to profit from my neighbors’ garbage. People throw away some seriously good stuff.

Lately, though, I’ve not even been looking. We are trying to downsize and declutter as we get ready to sell the house. We’re already overstuffed because of the items I’ve brought home that were from my Dad’s old house, things that he couldn’t bear to see leave the family. And Husband tends to get a little crazed when His Domain (aka the garage) gets cluttered.

All my good intentions flew South as I walked out of my house two mornings ago. There by the curb my next door neighbor had placed several items too good to resist. Items that should not be taking up space in a landfill. Items that should be used, or sold on Craigslist.

There was a perfectly good girl’s bike. There was a perfectly good dog crate.

And there was this:

Do you know what that is? Yes, it’s a sewing machine. But it’s not an ordinary sewing machine. It’s a HUSQVARNA VIKING Sewing machine. Selling for $800 and up.

And she was tossing it. A lovely, lovely woman who is obviously slightly insane.

My current Singer sewing machine has…issues. This one needs a new needle plate, but according to my neighbor it is in otherwise good condition.

I’m thinking Mama has a new sewing machine. But the other part of me is screaming, “SELL IT!”

The bike and the crate will definitely be sold. It makes Husband feel funny. He wonders if perhaps I should give the money to the neighbors; I don’t think that’s necessary – they were tossing it. Besides, a “Surprise! Here’s $30. I sold your garbage for you,” might not be received so nicely…

On the other hand, someone very close to me was once selling brand new $50 wood blinds from Home Depot, in an unopened box, at a garage sale for $5. They didn’t sell, so I fibbed and told her I’d take them, that a friend might buy them. I then hightailed it over to HD and returned them. She seemed pretty happy when I handed her the gift card, and I was very happy to do it…

I know what I’m going to do.  What would you do?

Red Flags and FedEx and Are You Sure That Check’s Not Going to Bounce?

Sometimes I just know things are going to go wrong. My internal red flags go up, and they keep waving, trying to get my attention.

They’re usually right, and they were this time too. Just not in the way I thought. In much weirder ways.

Last month I wrote about the freelance job Husband secured, and that we were waiting for a check to arrive before we fronted money from our pockets for a photo shoot. The check, for 50% of the contracted amount, arrived just in the nick of time and was deposited to our business account within fifteen minutes of the postal worker placing it into my slightly dewy (hey, it’s Florida) palm.

I was still nervous that the check wouldn’t clear. Just because a bank makes it available doesn’t mean the other party’s bank can’t refuse the check. Banking regulations require banks to make the money available to depositors within a few days, but if the maker puts a stop payment on it, or if it’s written on a closed account, or if the wrong person signed the check, or if for any other reason the bank decides not to honor the check it could take a week or more before my bank is notified, and then another 3-4 days for them to notify me via a bounced check notice.

Oddly, no one at the bank – not the teller, the head teller or even the bank manager – could tell me how long to wait before I was sure to be safe, though the manager did keep saying, “I wish more people cared so much about making sure they were writing good checks!” That’s disturbing on more than one level, isn’t it?

So, fast forward to yesterday. The first check has cleared and the project is over. They tell us they’ve overnighted a check to us (and faxed Husband a copy), then asked us to overnight the completed product back to them that day. It does not include an expense reimbursement for the photo shoot, which they agreed to pay and we invoiced them for separately but at the same time we invoiced the final payment.

Red flag alert!

Husband talks to them, and they balk about paying the expense (they didn’t use most of the footage from the shoot). Husband made a deal with their local representative that he would pay us for the photo shoot (next week some time, hopefully) and release the final product once we get a tracking number for the check. I’m not holding my breath on that expense payment. The dang red flags are blinding me at this point.

Fine. Whatever. I’m not happy about it, but it’s Husband’s call.

So, we’re waiting for the check, and it’s not arriving by the 3pm FedEx promise deadline. Or 4pm. Or 5 pm.

Red flags waving faster than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.

We find out that there’s a weather delay in Memphis and we will not get delivery until today. Husband decides to go ahead and FedEx them the final product. I have visions of a FedEx envelope empty but for the “April Fools!” scribbled on a used tissue.


Now, you’d think FedEx would have us as one of the earliest deliveries, since it was already a day late. Customer service and all. But nooooooooo. I’d set it up to get e-mailed status updates, and at 3:06 pm I get an e-mail that the check was delivered at 2:59 pm. Yahooooooooo……….???????????????????!!!

Um, it was?

Red flags a-wavin’.

I didn’t hear the truck. Contrary to what some people think, I don’t nap the afternoon away (well, not every day). I was pretty sure I hadn’t been napping seven minutes ago, unless I’d suddenly been afflicted with narcolepsy.

I walk to the front door and open it. Nope. No package. I go to the tracking site and it says that the envelope was left at the door. Hmmm. My dog didn’t hear anyone approach…

So now I go outside and look around my front patio. I think perhaps the driver went to the wrong house, so I check my neighbors’ patios. Nope.

I go back inside and call FedEx. And as I’m making my way through the FedEx automated phone maze I hear a truck pull up.

Gotcha, sucka!

I rush to open the front door, and it’s obvious that he was not going to knock; he was just going to leave it.

“I know what you did, ” I say. He looks stricken. “I know that you said you delivered it at 2:59 when you weren’t anywhere near here. It’s now 3:14. That’s fraud, dude. ” FedEx has a policy that they will refund you if they’re late, and at this point they were 24 hours and fourteen minutes late. FedEx guy would get in trouble for delivering late, so he fudged it.

I told him I was going to call FedEx, that he better make this right; I’m pretty steamed. I’m irate. I’m offended.
The guy gives me a million mea culpas, and takes full responsibility. Tells me he’s totally wrong, it’s on him. Tells me he’s going to call his supervisor. He’s shaking.

The wind so totally went out of my sails. I’m a sucker for a guy who takes responsibility.

I realized that our client was getting their money refunded anyway. I realized that this guy could get fired. I realized that my next package could get accidentally “lost” if I made an enemy.

And he took responsibility.

So I told him I wasn’t going to turn him in. And I warned him that the next time the person could very well be even more of a bitch than I am, and he could very easily get busted. Seriously. And I sent him on his way.


Part of me wishes that I’d turned him in. What he did was just so wrong.

Ah, well.

At least we got the check. And in 3-6 months if it doesn’t bounce I’ll even write checks against it.

There’s a Worm in My Apple…

Well, Apple has done it again.

Remember when the iPhone was released, and then a few months later they reduced the price? An uproar of epic proportions arose when the people who had waited in line for hours realized that not only do they need to get a wee bit more of a life, but that they’ll have $200 less cash in their pockets to do so. Apple, in a slight mea culpa, offered $100 vouchers to those who had, obviously, overpaid for the privilege of being among the first to have one.


I don’t think that Apple really did anything unethical. They’re allowed to reduce their prices if they choose. But I’m not sure if it’s worth the bad taste that’s left in the mouths of the original buyers, let alone the rest of the computer-shopping world.

Well, for Christmas I bought my husband the new computer he’d been saving for. As a graphic designer/art director/production director he really needed a new one, as his old one was 7 years old and had been updated as much as it could be.

So, in early December I ordered the MacPro with an upgraded 8 core processor and 1G of RAM (or something, I’m computer illiterate), and plunked down $4000 for the privilege. He was in disbelief when he opened his present on Christmas morning (he’s quite familiar with my frugality). He was thrilled! I was thrilled that he was thrilled (though I tried really hard not to think of the $4000)! All was happy in our house! Yay!

Then, yesterday, I got a call from said husband. Apple has just announced the new MacPro, with the 8 core processor as standard, and 2G of RAM standard, and more things that are … better than what we bought. For less than we paid for the inferior version, 4 weeks prior. And they sent us an e-mail announcing it!

Husband was very unhappy. He wanted me to call Apple and see what they’re willing to do. I told him it would be better if he called, because my call would sound something like, “The computer we bought doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as we could have gotten if we waited a month! What bells and whistles? Um, the thingy that makes it go fast. And the whatchamacallit that does something else my husband needs!”

Besides, once again Apple did nothing unethical. But it sure left a bad taste in, well, several mouths.

He did call them, and they issued a $200 voucher that my husband will use to buy more RAM, so he’s happy.

If he’s happy, I’m happy. And, you know, that’s what I live for.

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