Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Smash Magnet

I'm convinced I'm a "Smash Magnet" and by golly, I would rather be a "Babe Magnet" or any other kind of magnet than what I am destined to be.
When Hubby bought the spanking new, blemish-free,  silver Volvo station-wagon, I was thrilled until I heard those fatal words, "This will be our last car, Honey. We'll drive it until we can't drive it anymore."  I think Hubby meant until we're too old to drive. I don't think he meant when the car starts to look like a battle zone.
It really isn't my fault that someone spitefully gouged one side of the car with their keys. Or, someone else ran their grocery cart into the Volvo's rear end. Or that someone actually raced away when they backed into the Volvo, causing a caved-in rear corner. It's almost as if the "Car gods" were having a field day, chortling and jabbing each other in glee as I carefully drive away on my errands--in my repainted scrapes, with carefully patched wounds on the Volvo. Even if I parked miles away from anyone else, the car will have obtained new scratches and dents when I return. Honest to god--all those times were not my fault!   
Two weeks ago, I made it home without a scratch, until the concrete wall of the underground parkade  reached over and grabbed the Volvo. There was no one to blame except "Yours truly" and I was so angry, you could fry doughnuts in my "sizzle." How the heck did I ever do something so stupid? The poor car really looked like it came from a fierce battle and lost--deep scratches and a large dent along the length of the passenger side, that's the right side. A phone call to the insurance adjuster and a visit to the body shop followed.  It didn't help that the body-shop guy took one look and exclaimed, "Holy crap, that's really bad!" and with a gleam of $$$ in his eyes, started tallying the damage.
Darn if I wasn't loaned a Toyota Corolla that had just been returned by a person who had dented, scratched and mashed the front. The body-shop guy told me with a straight face, "We didn't fix it yet as it's the only loaner we have left." Huh!  I knew it! My one-time only, "my-fault" accident, has labeled me a "Smash Magnet," so if by chance, someone runs into this Loaner car with their grocery cart, car and/or car keys, this car already needs to be repaired.
If you ever spot this silver Toyota Corolla in the parking lot, please steer clear of it. Blindfold your shopping carts as they are attracted to silver Corollas. And watch those keys--their pointy ends have this need to give silver Corollas a deep "caress."
Meanwhile, I am beginning to become fond of this battle-weary Corolla--it reminds me of my beloved Volvo, still recovering in the car hospital. . .

Natasha Elena

Natasha Elena is my 3 year old god-daughter. Since she was a baby, she has always called me "Nana" because her one and only real grandmother lives in Austria. Having Tasha for the day is always a treat, both for her and for myself. My god-daughter thinks she is helping me stop saying "bad words" and I like to think, she's being gently educated.
I'm normally a very calm and happy person, but there are certain times, when I feel enough is enough. I don't often swear--at least, not in English. And, even if it is in Cantonese, it's more an insult than a cuss word. Tasha hadn't spoken any words yet, but when she finally did, her first words were "scum-bag." It didn't sit well with her parents who had been priming her with "Mama" and "Papa." My defense was I thought she had been asleep when I was watching my Clint Eastwood "Dirty Harry" video.
I should have known better than to leave Tasha alone for 2 minutes, even if she was busy with her colouring book and big crayons.  My newly painted blank wall was too tempting for a budding artist. She had carefully crayoned her best art on my new blush peach wall.
"Je***, I tried to say, while scrambling to remember if those were the washable crayons or not.
"Cheezies, Nana--you can say cheezies," Tasha  cheerfully offered.
"Remember what Nana said about drawing on walls, Tasha?"
"And what did Nana say not to do?"
"Umm, Nana said 'Nebber gotcha Danny, ebber do it again."  Even my brain blinked as I tried to decipher what I had actually said back then.  Oh, right--"Never, god-damn ever,  do it again!" lost its punch when you had to sub swear words for socially acceptable ones meant for little ears. Tasha was two and a half at that time.
Another time, I had parked the car in the Super Store parking lot, when we made a grocery stop. Tasha was riding in the cart, along with the groceries, when we both spotted the new ugly scrape on the side of my car.
"Holy sh**!" I hollered, managing to stop myself midway.
"Holy sheep, Nana--it's holy sheep!" my god-daughter corrected with a giggle.
Tasha had been with me when I had to go to the local department store to settle an accounting mistake. Someone else's purchases had ended on my monthly statement. No matter how it was explained, the accounting person refused to acknowledge it was their mistake and suggested I contact Management if I wasn't happy. It had been a very frustrating hour and forgetting Tasha was there too, I  muttered insults at that "ass****" who had refused to listen. Tugging my hand to get my attention, my little god-daughter announced in her loud voice, "Sassy mole, Nana. You can say sassy-mole." Somehow "sassy-mole" didn't conjure up the same image of the aggravating accounts person.
I do enjoy my god-daughter. She really is  very special and lovable. Whenever we spend time together, it's filled with laughter and sometimes for me, new words. It's amazing how quickly I can scramble to substitute for any cuss words and, if I'm not quick enough, Tasha would giggle and change the word for me. I use to dread her going home and tossing all the real words back to her parents, but so far, I still have access to my precious god-daughter.
The other day, I discovered Tasha has learned a Cantonese phrase and she delivered it perfectly. With her tiny hands fisted on her hips, she frowned at Loki, her Maltese terrier. Her tiny dog had chewed one ear off her stuffed bear. "Aii-ya Su-ya. Kwai, kwai!" which roughly translated means, "You stupid--bad, bad!"
Yes indeed--I definitely treasure these moments and don't want her growing up too quickly. Sometimes I think Tasha will be a wonderful peace-maker, an ambassador for her country. Other times, I think she may be a linguist as she already speaks fluent Austrian and English. She has a wonderful imagination and grasp of words so she may become a famous writer. For her young age, she has a sense of adventure and isn't afraid to try foods that are new to her. I want to be there when she discovers what the world has to offer and all the things she can do to make the world a better place. I want her to gotcha Danny do it well and holy sheep, make us proud.
Nana loves you, Natasha Elena.

Being Kind

Kindness comes in many forms and often, when you least expect it. My neighbour was complaining about the shoddy treatment she had received from her taxi-driver. Apparently he was either having a very bad day or he was normally a very mean-tempered driver. Whatever it was, he had left my elderly neighbour 2 blocks from her home to struggle through the heavy rain. She was carrying parcels and doing her best to walk that distance with the aid of her cane. Her arthritic hips and knees made walking difficult. A scruffy young man, waiting for his bus, saw her stumble and quickly moved to grab her and hold her upright. Despite the fact that his long awaited bus was approaching, he insisted on carrying her parcels and walking her home. Magda said softly, "He could have been a thief or a mugger, but I trusted his intentions. He cancelled an act of meanest with an act of kindness."
Yesterday, I was enroute to my Mom's to help her with a few errands. Of all days, my car wouldn't start. After checking all the possibilities, I concluded it was something to do with my ignition because the key went in, turned the car's dashboard on but didn't turn further to start the car.
When all else fails--grab your husband, so I did. He too, did all the things I did and--nothing. The key was stuck at Level 1 and didn't go further to turn on the ignition. I ended up calling a taxi. Coming home in another taxi, I mentioned the car problem to my driver. It turned out his other job was car-mechanic. Unbelievable! He asked if I did this or did I do that? I replied yes to all of them. Finally he asked if he could take a look when he got me home. I replied, absolutely! After going through all the things Hubby and I did, he concluded the problem was the security coding in my remote. I was flabbergasted. How the heck did I mess up the security coding in a key remote that has only 4 functions and none of them had anything to do with the security code? Another of Life's puzzles. And an unexpected act of kindness as my driver/auto-mechanic took the time to figure what the problem could be. Now, our next problem is how to get our non-starting car to the dealership so this "diagnosis" can be confirmed.
People in long line-ups can be nasty and testy, especially if they still have a long list of stuff to do before Christmas. Postal line-ups are the worst. Everyone wants their parcels, etc. to get there before the Big Day and of course, at this late date, it would take a Christmas miracle to achieve that! A young Mom was trying to keep her toddler and tiny baby from getting whiny or fretful. She was 10th in line. The young man in front of her cheerfully offered to trade places so she could move ahead. As they switched, the person now in front of her saw what was happening and offered to trade places too. Within 3 minutes, the young mom and her tots were at the front of the line. Another spontaneous act of kindness.
I believe most people are kind. Many seem to be in a rush or busy or needing to be someplace else now!  But, given the opportunity, most people  genuinely care enough to make a difference. I like that thought.  I like to think that the true Spirit of Christmas is present all year long and not just for a few short weeks.
Have you done something nice for someone today?