Friday, March 7, 2014

Dentist blogs… and dressing Bill

Last night, out of morbid curiosity about my teeth, I decided to research what my dentist did to me yesterday.  I ended up finding a fascinating blog written by a dentist for dentists.  The Dental Warrior is a guy named Mike who became a dentist in 1988 and loves what he does.  He's also a very entertaining and plain spoken writer.

His blog is for dentists, but I found it interesting reading anyway.  Because of my background in public health policy and administration, as well as the annoying experiences I've had with my dental insurance carrier, I was particularly interested in what Mike wrote about dental insurance.  Basically, it's a big waste of money and causes more grief and stress than anything else.  I think when we're out of the Army, we will look into a flexible medical savings plan or something equally constructive.

Mike has his own "savings plan" that he offers through his office.  That would be fine for me if I knew we were settling in San Antonio and my dentist offered such a thing.  Since I can't know what the future will bring in the coming months, I'll hang onto the crappy dental insurance… and then come July 1, we'll see what happens.  It could turn out that my teeth are the least of my worries at that point.

It might seem like I obsess over my teeth.  I don't, really.  This has just been an unusually traumatic and expensive year for them.  As I have hit my 40s and didn't take care of my teeth as well as I should have when I was growing up, I'm paying the price as stuff needs to be replaced and restored.  But I am determined not to deal with a bunch of root canals and abscesses like Bill and my mom have.  Crowns are bad enough.

My mouth is better this morning.  The tongue laceration doesn't hurt anymore, though I'm still a little sensitive around the gums.  With any luck, this temporary crown I got yesterday will not break in the next three weeks.

Dressing Bill

Charcoal pinstripe                                                                                                 Navy

Mr. Bill should be getting his new suits back from the tailor today.  I bought them for him for Christmas and he just now got them in to be altered.  I can't wait to see how they look on him, once they are ready.  Bill is a handsome man, but he doesn't have enough nice suits.  For most of our marriage, he's relied on two jackets that are about twenty years old.  I probably ought to get him one more suit before he really starts getting serious about his job hunt.  ETA: Now that he's tried on the suits, he needs to have the pants taken in more.  They are too baggy.

By the way,  I used to work in a men's wear store, so I know a little about how to dress men.  It was one of my least favorite places to work in the years when I had a "real job".  I didn't mind some aspects of the job, per se…  The men who shopped in the store were basically easy to deal with and it was kind of fun helping them pick out clothes, especially when I found them something they liked.  I contrast that with another retail job I had at the same time, where the customers were very demanding because they had money.  Really, though, the main reason I didn't like that job was that I didn't like my boss.

Her name was Debbie.  She was about seven years older than I was, which, at the time seemed kind of ancient.  She was a high school graduate who had always worked retail.  She usually came across as very friendly and nice, but that friendliness and niceness hid a rather nasty personality underneath.   She and I didn't get along very well.  I'm not sure exactly why.  I got the sense that maybe she thought I was too "uppity" or something.  She used to piss me off by summoning me by making the "come here" gesture with her pointer finger.  Being an "uppity sort", when someone does that to me, I usually feel like breaking off the offender's finger and shoving it up their ass.  Fortunately, I have had enough home training that I am able to resist that urge.  I just think that's a very demeaning way to ask someone to come to you.

I started working for Debbie not long after I got out of college.  The job was part-time, so it was mostly weekends and nights, along with the odd holiday, for which I would be paid time-and-a-half.  It was my job to ring up customers and straighten-- and I mean I'd straighten-- clothes all day and night.  I had to keep the store looking "straight" after customers would come in and rifle through the clothes.  It was very frustrating, because no sooner had I straightened up a pile of clothes, someone would come along and destroy my work.  I'm not a particularly neat person to start with, so I found that aspect of the job maddening.  I'd put the dress shirts back in their packaging and vacuum once the shift was over, while trying to not to look annoyed.  I never did get the hang of putting the pins back in the right places and folding the shirts so they were perfect.  I'd come in to help with inventory, which was a special evening of hell.  I got a generous employee discount, which came in handy, because while I was in that job, I ended up joining the Peace Corps and was able to stock up on clothes and shoes before I left the country.

I remember how my former boss used to answer the phone.  It would ring and Debbie would pick it up, answering like the outlet store where we were working was the most awesome place in the world to be.  And while I'm sure that made upper management happy, hence Debbie's position as store manager, it made her come off like a manic freak.  I also hated the dress code.  I had to wear khaki pants, a denim shirt (very popular in the 90s) and a necktie, which I HATED.

Debbie used to make me feel bad.  You know how some people just have this way of making you feel shitty in a subtle sort of way?  That's how it was with Debbie.  She was the kind of person who would smile pretty at you as she criticized or made cutting remarks.  I remember feeling anxiety and lumps rising in my throat during many shifts as she'd make little digs.  I thought she was a raving bitch, despite the smile on her face and the singsongy voice she used.  I have a pretty good bullshit monitor and she was just brimming with it.  She was patronizing and disrespectful… but in all fairness, she might have thought of me in the same way because I didn't kiss her substantial ass.

Oddly enough, I did like Debbie's husband.  The others who worked in the store warned me that he didn't talk much and wasn't that friendly.  I found that we got along pretty well.  He was interested in my upcoming Peace Corps assignment, while the others were singularly unimpressed with it.  I didn't expect them to be impressed per se…  or maybe I did.  Maybe that's why they didn't like me, although it seems like they didn't like me from the get-go, well before I'd even made the decision to join.

I knew Debbie couldn't stand me and probably only kept me around because she was pregnant and needed someone local (i.e.; not a college student) to work while she was on maternity leave.  When I gave her my two weeks notice, I could tell she couldn't wait for my last day.  In fact, on my last day, she'd already taken my employee number out of the computer system.  It seemed we were both happy to say "good riddance" to each other.  

A couple of years later, immediately after I'd come back from my Peace Corps assignment, I ran into a former co-worker from that job who told me I should go visit Debbie at the place where she was working then.  I had no desire to and let my former co-worker know that I knew Debbie didn't like me.  I should add that at the time, I was clinically depressed and painfully blunt about a lot of things.  I remember the shocked look that woman had on her face… She had been a "third key" at our former place of employment.  I did get along with her when we worked together, but you can't tell me that she wasn't privy to what Debbie really thought of me.  Debbie seemed to be the type of person who enjoyed being queen bee and would promote people who were part of her posse.

Not long after I ran into my former co-worker, just after I got home from the Peace Corps, I waited tables at a nice restaurant.  One of my co-workers happened to work for Debbie on the nights she wasn't waiting tables.  We compared notes.  My friend and co-worker, who was still a college student, agreed with me that Debbie was kind of fake and not all that smart, though she seemed to like her more than I did.  My friend probably worked for Debbie so she could get a discount on clothes, along with a paycheck.  But I think we both made a lot more money waiting tables, and the work was both more interesting and challenging.  Plus, while the people working at the restaurant could be rude and overly direct, they were generally not fake.  I liked them a lot better than I did Debbie, who covered up her rudeness with fake niceness.

I did learn a lot from that job selling men's wear, though.  I am grateful that Debbie gave me a chance for the seven months I worked with her.  I learned about how to dress Bill, was able to restock my clothes and shoes with decent products before I left for Armenia, and determined that I hate retail work.  I would rather wait tables than spend hours of a shift straightening clothes.  I'm not obsessive-compulsive enough to have a job where I spend the entire shift making sure the hangers are just right and the clothes have a representative from each size.  I found working with clothes to be mind numbingly boring and frustrating.  On the other hand, to this day, I still fold clothes the way I learned to when I worked with Debbie.  When I shop in a clothes store, I leave the clothes the way I found them.  So yes, that job was overall a valuable experience.  

Some may say I have a bad attitude… and they would be right.  I completely agree that my attitude sucks.  It's a good thing Bill doesn't mind that about me.  And hey, thanks to Debbie, I know how to dress him in style.

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