Friday, June 13, 2008

Flood Stories No. 1: You, lady, are unforgivably callous.

Gist of a phone conversation had by one of the front desk personnel:

FRONT DESK: [name of store]

LADY ON PHONE: Hi. I was just wondering if you were open?




LADY ON PHONE: So, is everything 50% off, then?

FRONT DESK (presumably in an if-voices-could-kill tone): No.

LADY ON PHONE: Oh. Okay, bye.

To put the above conversation into some kind of context:

We are having what everyone continues to insist on calling a 500-year-flood going on immediately behind the store property. There are ducks, now. And carp. On the premises. (The ducks aren't unusual, exactly, but carp, I think, is a bit unprecedented. Both are adorable, if also bad omens.)

Ducks. Not a good picture, I know, but they're there. The ducks are the sort of brownish objects about a third of the way up from the bottom, next to the center pole of the fence. They were much easier to see in real life, possibly because they were moving.

The local TV stations, and what few local radio stations haven't already been bought out by Clear Channel and DJed by robots, have been running non-stop flood-related stuff, particularly Channel 9, which has a particular interest in the floods because it's centered in Cedar Rapids.

Shortly before I arrived today (a co-worker saw me walking and offered me a ride), I was told that instead of the inch or two of water on the floor in the greenhouses that we were expecting yesterday, the prediction was now three or four feet, which meant that a lot of the work I did yesterday was going to have to be re-done.

Everybody else was going to have to redo what they'd done yesterday too, in order to accommodate the additional water.

Crack teams of sandbaggers, seemingly assembled out of nowhere, were wandering all over. Most of them were teenage boys, which is not really a demographic known for staying on task, so there was extra confusion.

The store, it turns out, is not actually insured against floods. (Flood insurance is too expensive, said the boss when I asked about this yesterday. I winced. She then shrugged and said, well, five-hundred-year flood, what're you going to do?) There's been speculation that if the damage is too bad, we might just fail to re-open entirely, rather than start again, though I think the possibility of this actually happening is pretty remote.

And so on. Pesticides were spilled (from a height, on people's - not mine - torsos and faces), glass objects were broken (didn't witness that one), a good time was had by all.

And then this lady, who apparently has nothing better to do than shop for bargains, wants to know if everything's been discounted yet.

She wasn't even the only individual like that: I'm told (by the same front-counter person) that a lady brought purchases up to the front counter, which was piled high with merchandise of all kinds because, you know, everything had to be three or four feet up off the floor, and we've only got just so much counter space, and when she wasn't rung up fast enough (because everybody who could have rung her up was trying to get stuff up off the floor or sandbag or something), she hollered, "HELLO" in a snotty way.

Front desk person came very close to bashing the lady's head in with a shovel. As she put it later when she was relaying the story to WCW and me,

Oh my god, who's thinking about buying plants at a time like this? [Interruption in the tirade as WCW and I both admitted to having thought about buying plants today, kind of undercutting her point.] Well, okay, but you guys are kind of a special case. I mean this lady was just, la la la, got nothing better to do, guess I'll go shopping. Oh my god! Why don't you go volunteer to sandbag or something, you useless, selfish . . . [non-verbal noise of frustration] You know, I've been sitting around at home crying already, a lot, 'cause of all the stuff on TV - it's just so frustrating and sad. And then to have to deal with these people on top of that - I don't know why we're even open, we should just make people either help out or go away.
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Side note: yes, I have internet access, for the moment, though it's still likely to be sporadic. The husband is anxious to evacuate; the boss expects me to at least attempt to come in tomorrow. One of them is going to win: could go either way. So posting will not resume the usual daily schedule for some time.

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I walk by this every day on the way to work. Normally, the small storm-drain-like slit you see under the road behind the white car is a full-on tunnel, about maybe 12-15 feet high. This was Thursday morning.

I tried to get a picture of the same spot Friday morning, but couldn't get near enough to get it, and when I tried to use the zoom on the camera, I couldn't tell what part to zoom on. The tunnel from the first photo is more or less under a maroon car, except that you'll probably have to click on the picture to see the car, 'cause I'm that far away.

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I don't really have any particularly awesome pictures of flooding. Floods are really very boring natural disasters, when it comes right down to it: you get all the same damage as, like, a tornado, but it's all very slow, and they don't translate well to pictures because, of course, pictures of floods look a lot like pictures of lakes or creeks or other bodies of water, with the exception that bodies of water generally don't have buildings and trees and cars in them. If running water was clear instead of muddy, then floods would be cool, 'cause you'd be able to see all the junk under the surface and it'd be all nice and surreal. But turbid water? What could be more ordinary than water?

Actually, no: floods are the second most boring natural disaster. Droughts are more boring than floods.

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Also: I'm sort of looking forward, in theory, to having some time off of work, because with the heat and such, it's not been so great lately and it's been wearing me out. So I was thinking, yippee! Finally a chance to get some stuff done at home! The husband is getting antsy, wants to evacuate and go south to Fairfield or Mount Pleasant (about an hour south in both cases), which takes me away from all the stuff I want to do, and piles a bunch of stress (adjusting to a new place and everything) on top of me besides. So between us there is Conflict, which is not unheard of, but is unusual enough that it makes an already-bad situation that much worse, and given that we were both anxious to some degree or another already. . . . Well. You see the problem. It's uncomfortable.


IBOY said...

So NOW is everything 50% off??

;o) don

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr. S, I hope you are safe and reasonably dry. Flooding here only reached a 100-year level, but we can still sympathize.
Best wishes, perL

themanicgardener said...

Oh, complain, complain. Until you're working in hip boots, I don't want to hear a peep out of you. You young people nowadays got no work ethic. There outta be someone at that front desk all the time. Sheesh. No service these days. And the prices! And then, it's just complain, complain, gripe gripe gripe.
--Kate, sort of.

No Rain said...

Hope all's ok. It really looks bad on TV, and I saw this evening another storm was on the way.
I learned very young that I was not cut out for customer service type work. I think I would have done what the front desk person didn't do!

sheila said...

Been thinking about you. I hope you can salvage your job and keep both the boss and the husband happy. Stay safe. The bright side is - you won't have to water plants very much for quite some time! ;)