Thursday, October 27, 2011

"I Gotcha Last."

My childhood was filled with good-natured pranks and teasing.  If properly executed, a good prank or tease will, eventually, be as amusing to the recipient as it was to the prankster.  My mother was a proud practitioner of this type of behavior and she instilled an appreciation for a good joke in us, as well.  She was rather sophisticated in her efforts, as opposed to her offspring, though. We relied mostly, on hiding around corners and jumping out to scare one another.  My mother was a little more creative than us, and as a result, her pranks got the big laughs.

My two brothers, for example, were each the recipients of uncooked eggs packed in their school lunches.  Their lunch mates were always appreciative of my mother’s efforts, when the boys would crack their “hard-boiled” eggs and discover that they had been mistaken about the hard-boiled part.  I myself, once had a lunch packed with sponge bread, very realistic in its appearance, which was accompanied by real bologna and mustard. It proved very challenging to chew.  Then, there was my uncle's surprise birthday sheet-cake that was made from a kneeling pad used for gardening. It was artfully frosted and served to him, while he was onstage, at the nightspot he played piano at.  He had the staff bring him a knife, as he regaled the audience about his love for his dear sister, and his appreciation for the beautiful cake that she had presented him with.  When the first knife failed to cut the cake, he requested that a staff member bring him a sharper one; blaming the blade’s dullness for his lack of success.  It took several more attempts, along with the sound of my mother's laughter, before he realized that it was not the knife's dullness, but rather, his own that was causing the problem.

Following in my mother's footsteps, my friend Anna and I once left a very realistic looking mouse inside the drawer of one of the teller cages, at the bank where we were employed.  It was discovered in the morning by a teller, who, unfortunately, did not share our senses of humor, and we were both reprimanded for our actions; the reprimand was accompanied by a wink and a smile from a superior though, who did. Tellers' birthdays were also fertile ground for pulling gags, and one entered the bank with great trepidation, whenever ones birthday fell upon a workday.

I have now, also, indoctrinated my own children into this beloved pastime.  I once hid on the floor of our home's kitchen pantry closet, crouched down underneath its bottom shelf for over 20 minutes, and then, leapt out at poor Gina as she walked by, unsuspectingly. She was not amused; nor, did not even express any admiration for the incredible lengths I had gone to for that particular prank!  Always good sports, the girls have pulled their share of pranks on me as well, though.  Recently, Olivia informed me that I had accidentally set my hair on fire when, while dusting, I leaned in a little too close to a lit candle on a table.  Gina and Olivia dissolved into laughter as I hurriedly slapped my head in an effort to put out the non-existent flames.

I believe that this may be the reason why we all enjoy the ridiculous feature on Facebook, which provides each member with the ability to give the proverbial “poke” in the arm, so similar to what we used as children to annoy our siblings.  I am embarrassed to say how hard I have laughed at the thought of irritating my online friends, and also amused at how quickly that they always respond back! It is the lightness of childhood, available in one of its most modern forms, that has given us each the pleasure of saying, "I gotcha last" with such mischievous delight.  We might be adults now, but that doesn't mean we have grown up.  Blessings ~ Amycita ~ *Additional note to online friends:  I gotcha last!! Ha!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Occasionally, the fact that I will not carry a cell phone, that I refused to allow my payroll check to be directly deposited into my checking account, or my habit of holding my new digital camera up to my eye when attempting to snap a picture, is viewed by some, as a reluctance on my part, to embrace modern technology.  I would have to disagree.  I feel it is more plausible that I have been left permanently traumatized by the introduction of the debit card.
When I lived in Warren I worked for 16 years as a bank teller, and my employment began at a time long before those ubiquitous pieces of plastic eliminated the need for people to wait, once a week, in incredibly long lines, in order to cash their payroll checks.  For those of you who would view this as a good thing I believe that, possibly, you might be missing the bigger picture.  Inching along for lengthy periods of time, while waiting to make ones way to the teller window, afforded everyone in line an opportunity for a little social interaction, and on top of that you were allowed to smoke while you waited!  It is my belief that if banks hadn’t eliminated smoking, and, additionally, they had provided a martini bar at the beginning of the line, people would still be standing in line today to cash their checks, rather than using an ATM machine.
Instead, tellers were enlisted to persuade customers that it was advantageous to possess a debit card, and we did so, with great success.  I can still remember when customers, obviously less gullible than myself, would ask me why I would want them to have a debit card when it would probably contribute to the elimination of my job.
“Oh no,” I would answer sincerely, as I unknowingly threw another shovel of dirt onto the graves of future tellers everywhere. “Debit cards won’t eliminate the need for tellers.  They are merely an enhancement to the services that we provide.”
At the time I worked at a branch that employed a combination of 44 full and part-time tellers.  If you want to know which one of us was right, the next time you go to the bank, providing you ever do, count how many tellers are working, and see if it is less than 44.
It should be of no surprise then, that, with a background such as mine, I would view something such as Facebook with great suspicion, and for years argue that I would never open an account on it.  About a year and a half ago though, my husband asked me to open an account for him, and on a whim, I opened one for myself, as well.  Initially, I failed to grasp the attraction.  The newsfeed, for example, I found particularly perplexing. 
“Why are all these people at my home and all talking at the same time?” I would ask my exasperated daughters.  “I feel like I am at preschool the first day after the Christmas break, and every child in the class is trying to tell me what they got, all at the same time.  It’s hurting my brain!”
Slowly, overtime though, I became familiar with the ins and outs of social networking, and I began to embrace the connection that it provided me with.  My friends list began to grow, from simply the family and friends that I interacted with on a regular basis anyway, to a group that included people with whom I had lost contact over the years, as well as brand new friends that I met through others, or from my blog.   My day would always include at least a passing glance on Facebook, which would reassure me not only that my daughters  who were no longer living at home were doing well, but all the other individuals who were beginning to feel like family now, also were fine.  The groups I joined provided me with people who shared my experiences or interests, and I looked forward to their comments, or listening to the music that they posted.  I also enjoyed the online Scrabble games and the like; providing an endless group of players to engage with should the mood strike me.  Little by little Facebook weaved its magic on me, without my even being aware that it had cast its spell.
I discovered all this after our home computer met its demise about 10 days ago.  I informed my husband that there was no need to hurry about replacing it, since I could easily use a computer at the library should the need arise.  
“What about Facebook though?”  He inquired.  “Won’t you miss it?”
“No, that won’t be a problem.  I’ll be fine without it.” I answered confidently.
Then, much to my surprise, I found myself wondering about my online friends and what they were doing.  The feeling was reminiscent of the times when, as a teenager, I had been grounded and unable to see my friends, or talk with them on the phone.  I would find myself conflicted, as part of me was missing them, while another part was resenting all the imagined fun I suspected they were having without me!  I suddenly had a revelation about what role Facebook had been playing in my life.  Facebook was the vehicle through which I invited all my friends and family into my house every day; however, because it was online, it negated the need for me to clean my house first, before they arrived.  It was the greatest invention ever!
I do not envision, anytime in the near future, when today’s tellers will ever experience the friendships and camaraderie that I was lucky enough to have known during the period that I worked as one… even if martini bars ARE provided.  Yet, all is not lost.  An amazing young man with a vision employed modern technology and created something even better.

He created Facebook, and I find myself so enamored with it that I am even reconsidering my position concerning cell phones!  So, until I find myself back online again, remember friends…..I’ll be thinking of you, and hoping that you aren't having too much fun without me...but if you are I will be secretly hoping that you get grounded, too.