Thursday, February 16, 2006

Zapped

Walking down the stairs, I overheard a female officemate complain to another about getting zapped every time she touched the doorknobs at work. I couldn’t help butting in.

“You too?” I asked. “I thought I was the only one.” We commiserated with one another and instantly developed a “static” bond between us.

I hate static for two reasons. First, I get it too often. Even if I could feel it building up on my body, I am often caught unawares when the shock happens. Just two days ago, I was handing some papers to my officemate and our fingertips accidentally touched. We both felt a shock. “Oww!” I shrieked and was jolted backward. My officemate just twitched a little. This brings me to the second reason for my great aversion to static. I always lose my poise. ALWAYS, anywhere.

Because of my ugly experiences with static, I have developed an odd ritual in opening doors at the office as part of my survival mechanism. Here’s what I do: Before I touch and turn the knob, I slowly feel the surrounding wooden part of the door, and with the back of my hand, (or my sleeve, if I’m wearing long sleeves) slowly feel the knob. Only then will I gingerly hold the knob and turn it. It might look silly to someone watching, but I prefer looking silly to getting zapped AND looking silly.

One other place where I get “electrically charged” is the Superstore. Within minutes of entering the store and pushing my trolley down the aisles, I will feel the hairs on my head and arms begin to stand up. I have had several annoying shocks in this supermarket. It’s not funny!

With more research on the Internet, I found a suggestion to solve this nuisance. Try holding a key and touching some metal rack with it, to discharge the static electricity painlessly before you touch things by hand. As soon as I feel the static build up, I will take out my car key and start touching the metal rack with it. My boys, who I sometimes take grocery shopping, find this really funny, if not embarrassing.

“Mom, what are you doing? Stop doing that.” Gabriel and Markus think this is just one other weird thing Mom does.

“I don’t care. I hate static,” I snap back. If they insist on pulling down my hand to my side so that I cannot tap my key on the rack, I pretend to hold them so they too would feel the shock when I get it. Gabriel knows I can be dangerous in this way. He once got shocked (we both did) when I gave him a peck.

“She’s electrifying!!!” Danny, John Travolta’s character in the movie Grease, sang about his girlfriend Sandy. That could well describe me. If only it were not very literal…

Friday, February 10, 2006

Loss anniversary – a postscript

After that exchange with Mr. Parton in my previous blog entry, I thought maybe it was a good idea to have some closure on the loss my boys felt for their games and Gamecube. I decided to take home some comfort food in memory of the old Gamecube, and put the matter to rest. It was a silly notion, but I wanted to have some excuse for having pizza, chips, pop and ice cream tonight. Besides it was not so often that we ate these junk at home. A treat would be nice.

I passed by Wal-Mart after work to buy the items, came home and announced we were going to have a memorial for the Gamecube, games and DVDs that we lost about a year to this day.  

“This is weird, Mom,” Gabriel and Markus snickered.

“Well, I just thought you might want to remember your old Gamecube. May it rest in pieces,” I said.

“Mom! It was just in one piece when it was taken,” Gabriel interjected.

“OK. Then, may it rust in peace,” I replied.  

“Mom, it is plastic, not metal. It won’t rust. That’s even more dumb,” he answered back, shaking his head.

Whatever. Just enjoy the meal.

I guess my boys have moved on, as did their Gamecube.

Break In

It was about this time last year when a thief broke into our house and took away ALL our DVDs, Gamecube and ALL games. That was quite a collection which could easily amount to at least $800. But more disheartening for the boys was the loss of their Gamecube, which they got as a Christmas gift less than two months earlier. They also lost the game they bought by pooling their money together. Grrrr!

The theft was discovered by Mickey when he went home from school at lunchtime, something that he did not normally do. He found the DVD shelf empty, the living room window broken and the glass sliding doors leading to our deck at the back unlocked. We were robbed!

Mickey did some investigating, checking the upstairs bedrooms, going to the neighbours and checking the adjacent Toys R Us parking lot. Then he called me at work. I rushed home and quickly checked if other valuables were stolen. I forgot we had no valuables –- no jewelry, no cash, no great works of art, rare antiques or fine china. We had tons of books though, but I guess that thief was not into reading. He left the Magic Mic too. He was not into singing either, and I was grateful for that. When I went to inspect upstairs, all the bedrooms looked as if they had been ransacked. Then I remembered that was how we left them that morning. Any thief would be dismayed at the sight, and probably think that someone had come before him and there was nothing left to steal.

I called the police. Minutes later, one cop came. He asked several questions, took down notes, then took off. What??? No fingerprinting? no photographs? No tracing of footsteps? No Lieutenant Caine or David Caruso? I surmised that the loss of DVDs did not warrant such meticulous investigation like the ones you see on CSI.

The Strata caretaker checked out the broken glass and gave me a repair company to call, which I did. A guy set an appointment for the next day so we had to cover the window with big slabs of wood we kept in the basement. When the repairman came, he said the glass on our broken permanent window was plastic. What?? No wonder it was so easy and quiet to break into. The neighbours did not hear anything.

It was a stressful two days as we tried to come to grips with the loss of my set of Anne of Green Gables, Lord of the Rings, Gino’s Harry Potter and some other good movies. I didn’t care much about the others. The boys rued the loss of their Gamecube for a long time. Last Christmas, they got a new one.

I am grateful that the break-in happened when no one was at home and my kids were all at school. “Don’t play hero,” I told Mickey when he said he went upstairs with a kitchen knife thinking the bad guy might still be there. “When this thing happens, let him take anything. It’s not worth your life.” Soon after that we had a security alarm installed. We should have done this earlier, but we learned our lesson.

I sometimes scout our house and wonder what I can’t afford to lose. What would be so precious? The only things I would cry about losing are our tons of pictures, videos, official documents, and several mementos that are worthless to others but loaded with priceless memories. I am emotionally unattached to most everything else, even my expensive vacuum cleaner cum air purifier. The treasure I am building up is beyond anyone’s reach because it is out of this world – literally.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Not taking chances

Guns freak me out. I get nervous whenever I see a real gun within a few feet from me. I think of horror stories of guns accidentally firing and killing unsuspecting people, children included. It doesn’t matter if the gun is licensed or if it belongs to a responsible person who keeps a gun for protection, I do not want it anywhere near me.

So when Gabriel showed me a gun one day that they found in the bush in front of our house, I was alarmed. “Where did you get this? This looks real! Throw it away!” I rattled. I was confident enough to closely inspect the hand gun because the cartridge was missing.

“Mom, this is not real,” he and Markus said. Just the same, I threw the gun in the kitchen trash bin. The next time I checked it was gone. The boys had retrieved it.

“Mom, we’re playing with our friends,” they pleaded.

“This is not safe. Even if this were fake, it could be mistaken as real by people out there…” I went on to explain the dangers of holding a realistic-looking weapon. “If you want to play with guns, just use your hand.” I had never bought a toy gun for any of my kids.

“Mom…!” The boys obviously found that silly. Nevertheless, they gave up the “firearm”.

I tossed it in the garbage bin again, but I couldn't help wondering if the gun was real. It wasn’t plastic. It was a little heavy, and it looked very real to me. How would I know a fake from a real one?

That night and the day after, I kept thinking that maybe I should call the police and report the gun. What if this were a murder weapon that somebody wanted to get rid of? What if this were meant to set us up? What if this were the only evidence to a crime? These scenarios kept playing in my mind, and I didn’t even watch CSI.

I began feeling guilty for throwing what could be a vital piece of evidence that could lead to the capture of a guilty murderer. I must be a good Canadian citizen. I must turn it in.

But what if I reported this to the police and it turned out to be a toy? I would look really stupid and I will never hear the end of it. My kids would definitely have a field day laughing at their paranoid Mom.

The next day at work, I approached a sixty-ish officemate who used to be a cop with the RCMP in his younger days. I told him the story in hush-hush tones. He advised me to turn the gun in. Even if it were fake it could still be used by a prankster. And if it were real, it should be in the hands of the authorities.

“Don’t touch it,” he said, “or you might get your fingerprints on it.”

“Our fingerprints are already all over it. Besides it’s already in the trash,” I said.

Probably sensing my anxiety and my hesitation to contact the RCMP, he told me to bring it to him the next day.

As soon as I got home, I retrieved the gun from the garbage bin. I was careful not to touch it so I used a plastic bag in the absence of a pair of gloves. I shook off the leftover rice and other kitchen refuse that had stuck to it. Then I wrapped the gun very well and hid it in my bag.

The next morning, I couldn’t wait to get to work. What if I met an accident or committed a traffic violation and a cop checked my bag? What if this gun turned out to be for real? Fortunately, I reached my workplace without any incident.

I headed straight to my officemate, took out the well-wrapped gun and handed it to him. He gave a quick look at it, and said with a smile, “Oh this is not real.” He described to me how a real gun of that model looked like. Then he advised me to just throw the toy away and make sure it didn’t get to my kids’ hands.

I heaved a big sigh of relief even if I was slightly embarrassed about the whole matter. I did not help resolve a crime, but I regained my peace of mind.