Reunited and it feels so good

Original draft 2016. No changes

I met him in 6th grade. I had a bit of an major on-and-off crush on him throughout the rest of my public school years. We were friends — probably the only real boy who was also a friend I had at that time. The last I remember seeing him was when we both attended the community college in our hometown. I was waiting for the bus (I didn’t get my driving license until I’d graduated college) and he was either waiting for the bus or walking to his car. We chatted for a while. It was, if I remember correctly, a nice chat. We reminisced then that was it. I never saw him again.

Over the years I’ve wondered how he was doing and tried to find him on the Internet. I never had luck — his was a common enough name. But I had a stroke of luck earlier this week when a mutual friend of ours (someone else I’d tried to find online and ended up bumping into at a mini-reunion for our high school class) said she wished she could find him. I searched “firstname+lastname” + Elgin Illinois and came up with an obituary of/newspaper article about his grandfather in which the person in question was quoted extensively. I tried again, but used his full first name and the rest of the search terms. That brought me to his father’s obituary which listed the person in question as living in a town in New York. Searching on that brought me to a website of a Yoga instructor who shared the name of my friend.

After looking though his site I was pretty sure it was him and called my other friend to tell her I think I’d found him. I sent off an brief, apologetic email asking if he was the “firstname lastname” who used to live in Elgin, Illinois.

The next morning I got a response. It was him and he seemed genuinely glad to hear from me. He asked for the contact info of our other friend and said to give her his.

Our friend was delighted and has reconnected.

My work here is done…

This actually leaves only one person I’d like to reconnect with left. George Phelps who used to live in Colombia, Maryland and spent some time in London in the late 1970’s, I am looking for you.

My lucky day — or two companies that did it right and one that didn’t (from draft)

Original draft 2015. No changes.

We’ve been in the market for new everyday glassware. We like the glassware we have, but several glasses have broken and they are getting a little scratched up. We’ve owned these Duralex Picardie Glass Tumblers since the kids were small. The batch we have now may or may not be our second set. Anyway, we needed new glasses and I first looked at Williams-Sonoma’s online storefront because we’d bought them at Williams-Sonoma in the past. The price was not bad for a set of 24, but the shipping and handling was a little too high for me. I am used to free shipping from Amazon. Amazon also had the glasses but for much more than William’s-Sonoma.

The other day I saw an email from William’s-Sonoma offering 20% off and free shipping so I ordered the glasses that evening. My William’s-Sonoma box arrived today, but it contained a (very nice) pizza stone instead of tumblers. I checked the invoice which clearly said Picardie Glass Tumblers and then went online to see how to return them. Because it would seem I was returning glasses I didn’t order, I called customer service and before too long spoke to a young man who said he’d send the tumblers out immediately and we’d get them by Monday. I asked if there would be a sticker to return the pizza stone and the young man said to keep it — and asked me if I liked pizza. I said thank you, I like pizza and have two pizza stones already.

A number of years ago we received items from Amazon that we didn’t order (this was the year that sort of overwhelmed Amazon during the holiday rush). When I telephoned Amazon to see how I could return them the person on the phone asked if I got all my orders. I said I had gotten them but how should I return the items I received. She told me to keep them. The items were nothing I wanted — a country and western CD and a game for preschoolers, so I gave the game to our neighbor and the CD to charity.

Both Amazon and William’s-Sonoma did the right thing. They made a mistake and took the blame by telling me to keep the item(s). I had to do nothing as a result of their mistakes except to enjoy the items I didn’t order. Last Christmas this was not the same with another company I do business with.

Last December I ordered several Barnes and Noble gift cards for Christmas gifts and had them sent to my mother’s house. I also ordered a Nook GlowLight™ for myself. When I opened the packages and envelopes from Barnes and Noble I found an extra gift card for $50 and a Samsung Galaxy Tab® 4 NOOK® 7.0 that I had not ordered. Nor were they charged to me. The gift card was addressed to a Donna somewhere in Missouri or Tennessee (my mother opened all of the gift cards before I got there — we won’t talk about how they were almost recycled) but the Nook was addressed to me yet had another address on the invoice.

I am basically a good person, but I don’t necessarily want to go out of my way to be that good person. I called Barnes and Noble to see what I should do and if they could send someone to pick up the items. I said I was worried that the folks who ordered these were hoping to have them in time for the holidays. They assured me that replacements had already been sent. They also said it was not possible for the packages to be picked up and that I should either send them back via UPS or drop them off at a Barnes and Noble store. So right there Barnes and Noble was not taking the blame in their actions. Granted — the gift card was probably the USPS’s fault) but still, I don’t think I should have gone out of my way to return the items. My sister-in-law (well, ex- but who’s counting?) offered to take them to UPS where she works and drop them off, but the hours she works did not match the hours the store was open so that didn’t work.

I eventually brought the Barnes and Noble items back to Maryland and dropped them off at a Barnes and Noble nearby, but the encounter was less than pleasant. It took a while to explain the situation to two different managers. All I wanted to do was to make sure the folks who ordered the products got them. But everyone seemed confused. It took longer than I planned to simply drop off something I didn’t order.

Barnes and Noble should have told me to keep the items or sent a UPS person out to pick them up. They did neither. I already owned two Nooks, so I didn’t need or want one, but could have given it away to charity or a family member.

The whole Barnes and Noble issue came back to me the other day when I ordered a book on barnesandnoble.com. In order to download it on my Nook GlowLight I had to jump through the hoops of entering my username, password and credit card I used to buy it. Amazon is not like that. I can seamlessly switch from a Kindle Paperwhite to a Kindle Tablet to my computer to my Nexus tablet.

I shunned Amazon for years over Barnes and Noble, but not any more.

The end of wrestling (original draft March 2011)

Wrestling ended officially last weekend with the annual Wrestling banquet and honors ceremony for the team. For us it was the final banquet, and very bittersweet.

Wrestling is over for Andrew. He has no plans on wresting in college and, as far as I know, there are no wrestling “pick up” matches in which former wrestlers can participate if they get the urge to wrestle — unlike many other sports such as basketball, baseball and football.

I don’t have a lot of regrets, but one I do have is not being interested in Andrew’s sporting life earlier. I rarely went to any of his soccer or rugby matches or basketball games when he was young, and while I probably went to more wrestling events because they were inside, didn’t go to most of them up through middle school. I understood none of the rules of any of the sports he liked and was not interested enough to try to learn. I’ll never get those days back for a re-do.

Once he got into high school and was chosen the varsity wrestling team as a freshman, I began to take an interest. I volunteered to redesign and manage the team website and attended most of the meets and tournaments throughout his high school career. I learned the rules, screamed directions to the wrestlers with the best of them, and cursed out the referees poor calls like a pro. I developed an appreciation for all of the sensory assaults experiences one encounters at a wrestling tournament: the shrill whistles, loud buzzers and screaming fans; the scent of hundreds of sweating adolescent bodies mingled with the odor of bleach used to sanitize the mats; the backache from sitting for hours on hard, backless bleachers; the sight of constant movement on the gym floor under unforgiving gymnasium lighting; the taste of whatever was sold in the concession stands.

I am so proud of my son and what he accomplished these four years as a wrestler. I believe that much of what he’s become as a young man (a delightful, smart, charming, kind, thoughtful, strong young man) is due to his experience on the wrestling team. I wrote about his coach a few years ago — but it was even more than that. It was his team. His teammates. His opponents. It was the whole experience that helped shape him.

The facts that he took first place in the county and region and fourth place at States are admirable as is his inclusion on the local newspaper’s  “first” team, but even without these honors, I would have been proud of him. They’re just added value — icing on the cake.

Here’s to the end of wrestling — the end of an era for us. We’ve got a lot of memories and a whole lot of photos.

Here’s my favorite. He’s hugging his coach after his very last wrestling match of his high school career. He lost, but took 4th.

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