It’s The End Of The World As We Know It

I apologize for the incredibly overused REM reference, but c’mon, what better lyrics are there for a post-apocalyptic post?

Yesterday, I figured I better finish up my last bit of Christmas shopping, just in case the world didn’t end. I really don’t want to be standing in checkout lines later on today, although I have a shit ton of stuff that needs to be returned. I’ve learned that it is much better to return things before Christmas than after, when everyone is trying to do it.

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I fully expected that I would find nothing but tired, snippy sales clerks and cashiers, rude customers, obnoxious drivers…I could not have been more wrong. For being the Friday before Christmas, everyone was surprisingly cheerful and helpful. Drivers let me into lanes, sales people were amazingly helpful, and I got to have an unexpected lunch with my son, so it was a bright spot in an exhausting day.

For my crazy shopping spree, I started out at Bed Bath and Beyond. I managed to get a spot right by the building, and I almost immediately found what I was looking for. I had a $5 off $15 coupon, so I purchased $16 worth of stuff for $11 (including tax). The cashier was super cheery, smiled at everyone, said Merry Christmas, and made the wait in line more bearable.

From there, I headed to Old Navy. I have to say, Old Navy has THE BEST customer service. I had one sales clerk ask if I needed help, and she was able to head me in the right direction. Then when I got to the checkout line, in spite of the 40 or so people waiting, the line moved efficiently because there were seven registers open and those cashiers are fast. When my cashier commented on an item, I said yes, I wasn’t expecting to find it, because it was an item bought online that someone returned to the store. I lamented that I was looking for a similar item that I was sure was also an online return, but the only one I found wasn’t in the right size. She informed me that this particular item was actually sold in the stores, and offered to call other stores to see if they had the size I needed. She not only called the store to verify that the online inventory was correct, she also had them hold it for me! All of this was done with a smile and seasonally appropriate chit chat. Even better, I had a coupon for $15 off $50, taking my purchase amount down to $37, and I had $25 in reward bucks, so I paid a total of  $14 with tax…for SEVEN items!

I then went next door to Michaels and found a few things that I wanted for me, so I texted Aubrey pictures to make her shopping easier. I found the things I needed, and with a %50 off one regular priced item, combined with a $5 loyalty reward, I paid $10 for five items. I was up to $35 for the day. Next was a trip to Half-Price books as a favor to Aubrey to see if they had a copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Learning French (which they didn’t). I managed to knock out two presents, one for my youngest niece and one for my nephew, plus picked up something I had seen while out shopping with Aub on Thursday. There, my total was $35, as I didn’t have any coupons, but for four items, I couldn’t complain. Total: $70

When I was at Michaels, I realized I had ordered some items from Guitar Center and had them shipped to the store, but hadn’t picked them up yet. I called them to make sure they had it at the front, and the guy on the phone was extremely helpful when they couldn’t find it in the warehouse. He took my number, and by the time I was done at Half-Price, he called to say they located my box and it would be waiting. While the traffic to get there was horrible (it took me 15 minutes to drive three blocks), and the parking lot was a nightmare, I pulled around an armored car to find a parking spot right in front of the door. Just as I walked up to the desk, I saw someone waving at me from the corner of my eye. My son was there. Crap! I told him to go away, and after the sales girl gave me my box, I ran outside to put it in the trunk, then went back in to find Matt.

I offered to buy him lunch if he’d play something for me on one of the pianos. Okay, I admit that I love for him to show off when we’re in music stores. There were two guys plinking out “Heart and Soul” on a keyboard across the little room. I turned the volume up as loud as it would go on the keyboard that Matt chose, then enjoyed the jaw dropping “WOW!”s from the other customers as he ran through Adele’s “Someone Like You” and then another song that he’s been composing. My day was made.

In the parking lot of Guitar Center is an El Pollo Loco, a fast food chicken place. It’s supposedly really healthy because they have sides like steamed veggies, corn on the cob, salad, green beans…and you can choose to have your chicken with or without skin. I had never eaten there, but Matt had tried it last week and said it was surprisingly good. It was AWESOME for fast food! They brag that their guacamole is freshly made every day, and it was better than I expected. The steamed veggies were crisp, not mushy, as was the corn. If you’ve got one where you live, check it out!

While we were eating lunch, Aubrey called to say she was off and ready to be picked up, but her manager had asked her if she could work a double and be back at 5:30. It was already 3:00, so Matt and I went to pick her up, then I took Matt home. Aubrey was starving and since it was Sonic happy hour (half-price slushies!), she asked me to make a pit stop. The cashier brought out her food and was really sweet, so we tipped her a dollar. Yes, you are supposed to tip at Sonic!

I had more errands to run, and I was afraid that Aubrey would be late to work if she went with me, so I took her by Ron’s office to pick up her car; he had taken hers because the trunk lock is broken, and I needed a trunk that would actually close. She headed home to rest for a bit, and I headed out to Walgreens.

Out of all the stores I went to yesterday, Walgreens had the WORST customer service. Their staff was rude and lackluster, and acted like I was interrupting them when I asked for help. I had been told that my prescription was at that particular Walgreens, only to get there and find out that no, it’s at the one I regularly go to. Then I had to get on the phone and the tech at the other pharmacy was incredibly rude and tried to tell me that they had no record of my prescription. I had to go through the whole story of the partial refill, the fact that they were giving me the wrong sized capsules, and that I had an email that said it was ready. She put me on hold for TEN minutes, then came back to say they found it and I was right. There was no apology for the attitude, just, “Yes, we have it, but we won’t be able to fill it after this because the manufacturer isn’t making it.”

The prescription is for hydroxyzine pamoate, a type of anti-histamine. It is the standard drug of choice for treating interstitial cystitis. With over a million customers, I doubt seriously that the manufacturer would just stop making it. The pharmacist said they could switch me to hydroxyzine hydrochloride, but that formulation isn’t effective for IC. I do have to say that the pharmacist was more helpful and polite than the cashiers and the pharmacy tech. He suggested I contact a compounding pharmacy, or an online pharmacy that has more access to certain meds.

While wasting my time at the first Walgreens, I did find a couple of things that I needed for the tree, and a present for Matt from Aubrey. She had found something that was a tiny set for $5 when we were out shopping on Thursday. I found the same thing in a set that was five times bigger for just $10, so she asked me to grab it for her. Total for me? $25, bringing the day to $95 (not counting lunch… and the stuff at Guitar Center was paid for online, so I didn’t count that either).

Next I went to the Old Navy that was holding the item I needed. Again, their customer service was AWESOME!!!! I have always been an avid Old Navy fan, but now, I am forever a loyal customer. The cashier had my item ready, chatted while she rang it up, and was sweet as a cupcake. I was out of there in five minutes.

My last stop of the day was my regular Walgreens to pick up my meds. I found a few other items that I needed; the total there (not including meds) was $10 and some change. My total for the entire day? $105 and a bit…and I had a TRUNKFUL of stuff. After stopping at nine different places in 7.5 hours, I had so many happy, helpful people that in spite of being exhausted, I was in a wonderful mood, and even sang Christmas carols in the car as I drove to pick up Ron from work.

As we drove home, I told him that I am holding off a fibro flare by pure force of will, and I am going to drop on the evening of the 25th. We’ll be at my mom’s, and alcohol will be involved. I am doing NOTHING until January 2nd! He said I’m already in a flare, but I said that it was just hovering, waiting for me to let my guard down. I may be using my “last effort” meds to keep it at bay, but they are working. Extra Nuvigil, tramadol, and pennsaid, as well as my TENS unit are my current bff (plural). Oh, and a shocking amount of caffeine and sugar ;-P

Now that it is 10am, I have to get ready to head to my real BFF’s house to help out his dad, and then I’m taking my friend’s headshot for a volunteer position that he’s applying for. I get to try out his dad’s brand new digital Nikon (oooooooohhhh!); I love Nikon, but can’t afford it, so this will be so much fun!

Although all my shopping is completed, I still have the festival of returns to do, and then the wrapping begins. Tonight, I will clear off my coffee table, put a fire in the fireplace, and wrap until my back is screaming for mercy (that may only be one gift). Fortunately, I have a ton of gift bags and tissue paper, and I plan to use them!

Yes, my day was as long as this post, and today doesn’t look any less busy. Hug your children, drink some hot chocolate, and don’t stress out. Make a list and knock it out.  I hope that all of my dear readers have a Happy Holiday Season, no matter what faith you are (or aren’t), nor what celebrations you choose to honor. I love you all!

“and I feel fine…”

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