Saturday, July 30, 2022

Nobody likes me right now, and here’s three good reasons why

I think we’re all familiar with the term “putting one’s foot in one’s mouth” and I’ve been guilty of throwing out a zinger or two. 

But I said something lousy yesterday morning and for reasons unknown I was unable to stop. 

No. 1:  Doug and the pretty (not dippy) girl

I went downstairs to the package room off the lobby to add some money to my laundry card.  After I did so, I’m waiting at the elevator to come back upstairs and a very pretty young woman approaches and presses the (already lit) button. 

Oh well, I do that too.  She asks how I am, I say fine, how are you.  She points at the metal “planter” hanging beside the elevator doors and says “they have to put fake plants in there or else they’d rust.”

I laughed and said “Well, back in 1950 when this place was built that was no planter, it was still an ashtray.”  Pretty Girl laughs and says “That would’ve been one big ashtray!”  It suddenly occurs to me this young lady really doesn’t know. 

I said “No, really—that’s what these were back then.  So you could put out your cigarette before you got on.”   She said “Ohhh…kay.”  Then she frowned like she just remembered her stove was on and went around the corner.  Just then, Mary Jane (who lives on the first floor outside the elevator) opened her door and asked “Who was that?”  I said “Oh, some dippy girl who didn’t believe me when I said this thing on the wall used to be an ashtray.”   Mary Jane stepped backward and quietly closed her door.  What the—? 

Pretty Girl came around the corner again.  From the look in her eyes, I’m guessing she heard me.  Nice, Doug.

No. 2: Doug and the Borax Man

Not even an hour later, I’m in the laundry room moving my clothes from the washer to the dryer and in walks Rob, carrying a large white plastic bucket.  (Rob lives down the hall from me, around my age, probably half a foot taller.)  On the lid of the bucket it says this is Borax, donated by a former tenant, if you don’t know what it’s used for, google it.

I said “Is that from you?”  Rob says “Yep, I’m moving out.  Thought I’d leave you all with something to remember me by.”  I said “Why are you leaving?  New job?  Did you buy a house?”  Rob said “Steiner decided not to renew my lease.  We’ll leave it at that.  I found a nicer place and I bear them no ill will.”

I told him I was glad he found a nicer place, but we’d still miss him.  He said “I’ll certainly miss all of you.”  I said “You know who they should go after, that character on our floor who roams around up here without any clothes on.  Have you heard about this dude?  I’ve never seen him, but I know Sarah and Fernanda complained nonstop.”

Rob said “I know, they were complaining about me.  Goodbye Doug.”   Bye Rob Sad smile

No. 3:  Doug and “she’s still got it” Opal

A couple hours later, I come home from the store and Opal is sitting in the lobby with her crossword puzzle book and iced tea.  She asks what’s new, I decide to tell her what happened earlier with Dippy—I mean Pretty Girl and Speedo-Rob.  Opal is laughing and clapping (I wish she wasn’t so demonstrative).

An older gentleman walks into the lobby then, wearing white Dockers and a polo shirt.  He looks like an actor from one of those retirement community commercials on tv.  He smiles and says hello to both of us, gets his mail, heads outside.  I said “He looks like a nice gentleman…”  Opal says “Maybe for you, he’s too old for me!” 

I said “Excuse me?  He couldn’t have been older than 75.”  Opal said “Have you seen the new maintenance man, who comes here Thursdays?  Doesn’t he look like a younger Sam Elliott?  Now he’s the man for me!”

I said “I’ve seen him—but he’s pretty handsome, don’t you think he’s out of your league?”  Dammit!  Half my brain was trying to stop me from talking, but my mouth kept right on going.  Opal said “I’m 70, not 700.  I’m going upstairs, I’ll talk to you later.”

Opal, I’m sorry.  Who’s next?  Eye rolling smile


Monday, July 25, 2022

Wayfair can be way suspicious, but business is business I way suppose

Unlike my last conversation-post with the fictional A&P Hotline, this one really did occur Saturday afternoon.

WF:  Thank you for calling Wayfair, my name is Carrie with a C.  Will you please confirm your identity by giving me your name, address & number you’re calling from?

ME:  Hi Carrie—by the way, I have a sister with that name.  Um, this is Douglas Morris, I live at blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda.

WF:  Great!  What can we do for you Douglas?

ME:  Well, I bought a chair from you guys a couple weeks ago.  It was damaged on its way here, so you sent a replacement.  I got the replacement in good condition, but it was a darker leather than what I expected so I asked to return it. 

I was told it would cost me $75 to have someone come pick it up, I said that was fine and the least I could do given the inconvenience to you guys.   Soooooo…..

WF:  I’m with you so far, keep going!  Was it picked up?

ME:  Yes, two men came last Friday to pick it up.  I wrapped it up in $20.00 worth of bubble-wrap.  But I’m still waiting for an update on my refund.  I don’t want to seem impatient, but I found a replacement chair on your website I wanted to buy. 

The thing is, it was out of stock, now it’s back.  I’m afraid it will go out of stock again if I wait too long.

WF:  And you need your refund first?

ME:  In a way—I need to know if you’re refunding my credit card or making me take store credit. 

I don’t want to buy the replacement chair now, only to get $900 in store credit a week from now.

WF:  Okay I totally get it!  Douglas will you stay on the line while I review all of this with my manager? 

ME:  Sure Carrie.  Hum de dum de dum….. 


WF:  Hi Douglas, it’s Carrie again!  My manager wanted to know—what was the date they picked up the leather chair?  Was it actually last Friday, the 15th?

ME:  Yes, around 3pm.  It’s been gone 8 days, you still don’t have it?

WF:  Well, my supervisor says it takes 2-4 weeks to return to the warehouse, then the order gets a formal return evaluation, then someone will notify you of it’s return, then we contact your credit card company if all looks good and you finally get your refund to your credit card issued a couple weeks after that.   So a credit card refund can take 4-6 weeks.

ME:  And what if I take store credit instead?

WF:  Then you’d get $900.00 added to your account within 48 hours.  Someone will call you when the store credit is in your account.

ME:  Wow—well, I AM pretty sure I’m going to buy that other chair, so I think I’ll go ahead with the store credit.

WF:  Great!  Douglas is there anything else I can help you with?

ME:  Nope I think I’m good.  

WF:  Oh Douglas I wanted to tell you—my first name may be Carrie, but my middle name is Lynn and I go by Lynn with family & friends.

ME:  That’s interesting, my sister Carrie’s middle name is Shawn and she goes by Shawn with her family & friends.  Alright, thanks Carrie—I mean Lynn—well, whatever you--

WF:  Oh Douglas, I was just notified your account update is complete.  You now have $900 in store credit.

ME:  I only had to wait a sentence?  Does this mean you guys located my returned chair after all?

WF:  Um… no.  But we believe you returned it!

ME:  Eye rolling smile

I was told that once the store credit is in my account, they can’t retract or reduce it.  Also, there’s no hurry to spend it, as there’s no expiration date.  (The second chair I’m getting is $350 less than the first, so I’m going to have a surplus.)

Carrie said after I buy another chair I can have the leftover amount transferred to my credit card if I want in no time at all.  Oh really… after I buy another chair.

I dunno, ten seconds for store credit vs 4-6 WEEKS to refund my money seems a little suspicious.  I suppose they’re just happy they’re still getting my money—well, two-thirds of it at least!

PS.  When I showed the replacement chair to my sister and asked if she liked it, she said she had heart-emojis in her eyes.  (You can tell she’s the mother of a teenager.)  When I showed it to my friend Danielle, she said “It doesn’t look comfortable—and I don’t trust Wayfair.  Buy a normal chair from La-Z-Boy!  They’ll send you swatches!”  

I don’t know what I’m doing yet!

Thursday, July 21, 2022

“Hello you’ve reached the A&P Hotline—so what ails you?”

I saw on the news recently where the Suicide Hotline has a new number now, similar to 911 for Emergencies.  It’s 988, and it’s a pretty wonderful thing. 

At the same time, I can’t help but feel we need an A&P Hotline for folks 60 & above who are living in some discomfort, but also live alone (or maybe bent the ears of friends or family a little much already)—the Aches n’ Pains Hotline. 

I suppose the Hotline would be manned by volunteers, my only request is that these volunteers also be 60 or older.  I’m looking for a sympathetic ear, not someone who’s doing eye-rolls on the other end or responding to my A&Ps in a condescending or patronizing manner!

A&P:  Hello, A&P Hotline.  What ails you?

ME:  Hey A&P.. oh I shouldn’t be bothering anyone with this, the last couple weeks have just been a little rough, that’s all.

A&P:  That’s what we’re here for—go ahead, I’m listening.

ME:  Well, yesterday I had a pretty bad gallstone attack.  They never last longer than 2-3 hours, but it’s my third attack this month.  It’s been a couple years since I’ve dealt with these, so I’m hoping they go away like before.

A&P:  My sister-in-law had gallstones, she had to have her gallbladder removed! 

ME:  I hope it doesn’t come to that!  Anyway, that’s the least of my problems.  A few days ago, I began experiencing TMJ issues—jaw disorder pain in my left jaw again.  Ugh it scares me.

A&P:  You had it before?

ME:  Yes, a more severe case in December 2018 after getting oral intubation during kidney surgery.  It lasted over two years and I wound up being involuntarily committed after an opioid overdose. 

A&P:  Heavens!  What do you suppose brought it back?

ME:  I don’t know, I think a combination of stress and too much jaw crunching—eating hard things.  A couple weeks ago I bought a very pricey chair online that wasn’t what I expected, and it took 15 calls to Wayfair to get things sorted out and returned.  It was a thousand dollars, I’m still waiting for a refund.

A&P:  And what kinds of hard things have you been eating?

ME:  Well, the first week of July I went on Amazon to buy a veggie chopper and a milk bottle brush.  Amazon said “You’re just $3.75 away from qualifying for free shipping.”  So I looked around and added a box of Belvita Breakfast Biscuits to my Amazon cart for $3.88.

When I got my order a few days later, they didn’t send me a box of those biscuits—they sent a CASE!  So I’ve been doing more than my share of munching and I think they’ve really aggravated my jaw muscles.

A&P:  I enjoy those Belvitas myself, but they’re more like dog biscuits than cookies!  You should have a cup of hot coffee nearby for dipping.  That and a soft piece of fruit makes a fine breakfast.

ME:  Okay, thanks I’ll do that.

A&P:  Will an over the counter medicine like Advil help your jaw pain?  They do wonders for my back.

ME:  I can’t take Advil or even aspirin for that matter.  I’m on two meds for hypertension and Advil makes my blood pressure skyrocket!

A&P:  What about Tylenol then?  I’ve read it’s not good for the liver in the long-term, though.

ME:  I’ve read that too.  But I don’t think a couple would hurt on occasion.

A&P:  Okay, great!  Now don’t forget my suggestion for enjoying those Belvita Biscuits, take care now!

ME:   I will, thanks A&P!  Nerd smile

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Did you know what you wanted to do when you grew up? I did—with a little help

I was going through a shoebox of old photos recently and found this picture of yours truly, from October 1993.  I was 32 years old and probably the happiest I’d ever been in my life. 

I was a software developer for the Department of Aging in Allegheny County.  I started there October 16, 1989 (on my Grandma Morris’ 75th birthday) and was only supposed to be there for 6 months, but wound up working for Aging for 9 years. 

Loved the office, loved the people, and most importantly, loved my work.

If someone had told me just a couple years prior “you’re going to be living in Pittsburgh, working at a government agency and developing Managed Care software for 40-50 caseworkers” I never would’ve believed it. 

Prior to the start of my IT career, I’d been asked 3 times (that I can remember) what I wanted to do with my life, and computers never came to mind.

In third grade, before we moved to the country and still lived in town, my teacher Mr. Porter asked us to write an essay on who we thought we’d be in the year 2001.  (He’d recently seen 2001: A Space Odyssey and couldn’t stop talking about it.  Plus he was awesome.)  I wrote that I’d be 40 years old, probably married with 4 kids.  I was going to be a Methodist minister & cartoonist.  My dad had two jobs (a coal shaft engineer and musician) so I would too.

In the fall of 1978, my senior year of high school, our guidance counselor Mr. Titus met with me to discuss my future and asked if I had plans to go to college and what I wanted to do.  When I told him I’d been giving a lot of thought to teaching, maybe math, he said “No no no… we’ve got a glut of teachers already.  You want to work with numbers, go into accounting.  That’s where all the money is.  Got it?  Good.”

I did pursue Accounting in college but dropped out after one year, it just wasn’t me.  I remember in the early 1980s, seeing a news segment on the shortage of teachers in America, particularly in math & science and got my first real lesson in life; listen to yourself first.  Corny but true.

The third time I was asked was in the spring of 1986.  Dr. Jane (my dentist) talked me into meeting with Bill Lewis, a counselor she knew at the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.  When he asked if I had any idea what I’d like to do with myself, I said no, but I’d spent the last 6 years selling lumber & gardening supplies for $4.15 an hour and knew I didn’t want to do that.

He recommended we travel to Pittsburgh so I could take something called the ASVAB, a battery of tests the military gave their recruits to determine their strengths & weaknesses vocation-wise.  Afterwards, Mr. Lewis said “Have I got news for you!” and I said “What, I’m in the Army now?”  He laughed and said “No Douglas, I know what you’re meant to do.”  I said “Radar repairman?”  and he said “Computers.” 

I told him I didn’t think I’d be good at repairing computers, and he said “Not repairing them; computer programming.”  I was terrified, I’d never been near one.  But I loved Star Trek, that show was full of computers and frankly that’s where I got the courage to return to school in a special 2 year college program in Computer Science.  It didn’t take long to know I’d found my calling.

All of this comes to mind as recently my sister Shawn has been going with my 17 year old niece Sophia to visit colleges.  (Sophia will be a senior this year.)  Shawn said that Sophia had initially wanted to pursue teaching, but now wasn’t sure.  Who can blame her?  How many people know what they want to do at the tender age of 17? 

I’m sure there’s a few out there who can say yes, they DID know—our own brother Duke announced he was going to be a lawyer on his 13th birthday, and he became one too. 

As for people like me…. a little help along the way certainly helped.

Good Luck, Sophia


Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Amazon shopping: These would appear to be a no-brainer

I love coffee.  None of that pricey Starbucks stuff or the daily assortment of fru-fru flavors at the Gen Z coffee house up the street.  I simply enjoy a cup of Folgers Classic Roast (with a little cream & sugar). 

In fact, I enjoy about 3 cups daily.  I would probably drink more, but I use a Keurig machine and these k-cups aren’t cheap.  For the past couple years, I’ve had a “coffee subscription” to (then   Every 4 weeks I get 72 k-cups of Folgers Classic for around $40.00.

$40.00 / 72 = 55 cents a cup.

Then several nights ago I was watching an assortment of Tik-Tok videos (ugh they’re addictive) and in one, a young man was standing in a Wal-Mart in front of a display of Tim Horton’s K-cups and saying “Why do you keep wasting your money on these?  Plus they’re not good for the environment.  Buy a reusable k-cup, the metal ones are best.  Save your money and save the environment.”

Well, I am all about saving money and frankly I feel guilty everytime I toss one of these plastic k-cups in the garbage.  I’d love to reduce my carbon footprint too.  But I’ve heard so many negative stories about those refillable k-cups, difficult to use, watery coffee or grounds getting into your machine (and people complain about the Keurig refillable k-cup most) so that’s why I never bought one.

But that young man inspired me, so I went on Amazon found these and was intrigued.  Made exclusively for the K-Supreme, what I have.  (Click on photo for link.)


I placed my order (even though they seem a little pricey) and after they were delivered, I was anxious to try them.

Ran to the market, bought a can—I mean plastic tub—of Folgers Coffee.  When did they stop selling coffee in metal cans?  Where’s the transparent lids?  I’ve been using k-cups for too long!

Anyway, the loose coffee was $12.43.  On the container it says it contains approximately 240 tablespoons, and 1 tablespoon equals a 6 oz serving. 

But I like my coffee strong, plus I like 10 oz. servings.  So let’s say I use two tablespoons per cup of coffee, making this container last 120 bigger cups.

$12.43 / 120 = 10 cents a cup.  TEN CENTS A CUP VERSUS 55.  Mercy!

I’m happy to say I’m on my second day with these & they’re working wonderfully.  (Just don’t try to take it out of the machine right away, they get hot and stay hot!) 

I think I’m going to start enjoyng a cup of coffee in the evenings again, to hell with the caffeine.  I fall asleep too early anyway!


Friday, July 8, 2022

Tales from the bedroom: ApacheDug in “Good Morning, Terror!”

Once upon a time lived a quiet man named Doug, who also lived alone.  He didn’t have a lot of excitement in his life, and that suited him just fine.  He was nearing 61 years old and wasn’t exactly an old man yet, but was no spring chicken either. 

Every night, Doug liked to watch the 11:00 news.  He’d then go to the kitchen, rinse his tea mug and take his nightly dose of Amlodipine.  He’d check his front door was locked, shut off the tv & lights, go to the bathroom & brush his teeth, and go to bed.

He didn’t go to sleep right away though.  Doug enjoyed 1/2 hour of e-book reading or watching Youtube videos on his tablet before shutting it off around midnight.  And then one night, last night in fact, Doug was in bed reading when he noticed a couple teeny-tiny flutterings on his tablet’s screen.  “Clothing moths!”  Doug whispered, and swatted them away. 

Where did they come from?  He hasn’t seen any moths in over a year.  He went back to his ebook, and again they hopped on his device.  They were barely the size of an eyelash, but still a nuisance.  And that’s when Doug remembered the moth traps in his bedroom closet.

He bought them the previous spring on Amazon, but it turned out he hadn’t needed them—until now. He opened one of the six foil packets, removed the trap, folded it into a triangle and peeled off the wax-paper liner exposing a very sticky interior and moth pheromones.

He hung it on the metal bed-pole above his pillow, turned off his tablet, and went to sleep.

The next morning, Doug awoke and yawned, stretching his arms.  He reached up behind his head to see if the moth trap was still hanging there.  It most certainly was.  Climbing out of bed, Doug held the trap over his bedroom’s lampshade to get a better look inside.

Doug decided he’d try sleeping while wearing his covid mask for awhile.

The End

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Woods and fields, earth & sky: that’s the way it was, the summer of ‘73

Isn’t this a nice view?  It’s an aerial photograph of my childhood home, taken the summer of 1973.  Recently I was browsing a vintage photography site that included aerial shots of the rural parts of Greene County where I grew up.  It contained roughly 4000 images, and I was happily surprised when one of them turned out to be my family’s farmhouse.

No date, it simply said “Greene Co PA, Summer 1973”.   If you look closely enough, you can see my Dad’s white music van, to carry equipment when he & my Uncle Mike performed on the weekends.  It had Donovan Morris & the Country Rockers painted on both sides. 

We also had a giant blue Oldsmobile at the time that I liked to pretend was the Batmobile.

I looked through my mom’s old photos for pictures from the same time frame that aerial photo was taken, here’s one from July 1973

That’s me, Dad and my older brother Duke in the back; Steve, Shawn & Donda-Lin in front

It’s such a curious thing, that aerial photo.  I used to look through our old family albums so much, I could easily identify the month & year the picture was taken without having to turn it over.

(My mom always wrote the date on the back of each photo). 

Duke’s 10th birthday cake, May 1969.  Mom and our youngest sister Courtney coming home from the hospital, July 1975.  But that aerial picture above… I wonder what was going on at the time? 

Our car & van were parked outside, so we weren’t away on a family vacation or visiting relatives or swimming at Ryerson Station.  Where was everybody?

Most likely, us kids were outside hiking the surrounding fields or woods, or exploring the old sheds and barns that dotted our countryside.  Perhaps my older brother Duke was upstairs in his room, reading one of his countless sci-fi paperbacks (which he kept in neat stacks atop his bedroom dresser). 

Our brother Steve was either at his favorite fishing hole or our neighbors the Gordons, and if it was a Saturday morning, my sister Shawn & I might be in town, spending our allowances at Murphy’s (a Five & Ten store) or the weekly matinee.

Our neighbors the Gordons; this is a pretty early photo, they were considerably older when we moved to the country in 1970

My brother Steve spent so much time at their farm, I’m surprised they didn’t try to adopt him!

I don’t really have anything of importance or interest to share here, besides that top photo.  I know I have a tendency to take a lot of strolls—more like lonnnng walks—down Memory Lane, but seeing our old farmhouse again after so many years, on a bright summer day in 1973 no less… 

The recollections & wonderings it inspires is just too much to resist.

Here’s one more photo, my sisters Shawn & Donda on their bikes, June 1973.  For all I know, that plane taking the aerial pictures was directly overhead!

   Happy Fourth of July Everyone