There goes my Uber score.

25 May

Image Source: Groupon April Fool's Joke

The sun is setting on Memorial Day as I write this. I imagine most people feeling relaxed, rested and reflective after a nice three-day weekend. Not I.

I spent the day agonizing over whether I should take Miss Moneypenny to the animal hospital or wait until my vet’s office opens tomorrow morning. Because when I woke this morning, I discovered that my cat was pacing laps, alternating between peeing blood, licking herself and crying out in pain.

A quick Google search revealed that she likely had some sort of urinary tract issue that – according to the internet – could spiral out of control if left untreated.

I dialed the animal hospital to ask if I should bring her in or if I should hold off and take her to my regular vet on Tuesday. “You can schedule an appointment later this week,” the unhelpful girl at the desk told me.

I called Alan. “What do you think?” I asked, knowing it was unfair of me to pin my cat’s health prognosis on a recovering lawyer.

“Get a second opinion,” he offered.

So I called another animal hospital out in the boonies and reached a more helpful person (and cat owner), who said she would probably be fine if I waited a day, but that if it were her cat, she’d probably run it in.

I was torn. On one hand, the thing that would give me peace of mind would be taking Miss Moneypenny to the animal hospital. But I didn’t want it to turn out like when I took her in for eating the Christmas ribbon, when they looked at her and sent me home instructing me to “keep an eye on her and bring her back if anything changes.”

If I owned a car, this might be a no-brainer. But since I don’t, I have the added complication of figuring out how we will get to and from the vet. And Miss Moneypenny hates being in her carrier, so she is guaranteed to scream the entire time, making it traumatic on both of us.

Should I go? Should I wait? I was truly torn, so I decided to give it a bit of time to see what happened. Good news: Miss Monepenny eventually stopped pacing and took a nap, so I used that opportunity to run to Petco and get some remedy that is supposed to relieve the symptoms of a UTI.

All was well until Miss Moneypenny awoke from her nap and went straight to her litterbox – where she began howling, then pacing, then licking, then howling, then repeat. And repeat some more. Indefinitely.

Since it was looking like it would be a long night for both of us, I decided to bite the bullet and take her to the animal hospital. My driver on the way there was awesome – very understanding and sweet about the fact that he was transporting a cat. He went so far as to call himself a kitty ambulance, though he got a bit uncomfortable when he asked what was wrong and I told him she was peeing blood.

I guess that IS something of conversation stopper.

All was fine at the vet – they gave me two different medicines to get her started on immediately to help with the pain. And while I hadn’t spent my afternoon at a cookout, I’d only spent a few hours at the ER, so I was willing to consider it something of a win…

Until I had to get home. I was so relieved to have the worst behind me that I’d forgotten that the Uber ride is part of the trauma. Without thinking, I summoned a car and hopped into it. As soon as I set the duffel back containing Miss Moneypenny on the backseat, she let out a Volume 20 MEOW.

The Uber driver (named Cynthia) let rip with a blood-curdling scream and almost ran us into a telephone pole. “I’m sorry,” I began, but before I could finish, she interrupted, “What IS that?”

“It’s my cat,” I started to explain. In fact, I usually warn Uber drivers that I have an animal before getting into their car and ask if it’s OK. This time, however – probably because Cynthia had exercised a splendid lack of respect for other motorists and stopped for the pick-up in the middle of the road with a line of impatient cars honking behind her – I’d decided to just jump in for the sake of efficiency.

“Where IS it?” she yelled.

“It’s here – she’s zipped in this cat carrier,” I said, pointing.

“I hate cats,” she yelled. “They scare me. My ex-mother-in-law had cats. They sneaky. They all quiet. Then they just be there. Looking at you.”

“Well,” I offered, “This one isn’t quiet. She won’t sneak up on you.”

Miss Moneypenny hadn’t stopped howling from the second we’d sat down. Just then, as Cynthia turned around to look at us and confirm everything was manageable, Miss Moneypenny’s head came exploding out of the carrier. Cynthia screamed. I grabbed the duffel, somehow managing to halt Miss Moneypenny, who by that point had gotten both front paws out as well. Apparently the vet hadn’t zipped the carrier completely.

“Get that thing back in the bag!!!” Cynthia screamed at me.

I was doing my best, but if you’ve ever tried to force a cat to do something, you know it’s a lesson in stubborn wills. It felt like time stood still as Miss Moneypenny and I fought the containment battle. I finally prevailed, but had clearly lost Cynthia’s trust in the process.

About this time, we almost got hit by a bus because Cynthia pulled out into traffic. “My nerves!” she exclaimed.

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “I don’t want to stress you out. Do you want to drop me off here and I’ll call a different Uber?”

“Naw,” she said. “We almost half-way there now. Just keep it in the bag.”

I assured her I would.

About this time, she started scratching herself wildly – her arms, her legs, her head.

“Are you allergic to cats?” I asked.

“Only when I see ’em,” she responded as she scratched.

Throughout all of this, Miss Moneypenny continued to shriek, making sure that no one forgot there was a cat in the car.

Finally, when we were a block from my place, we hit a red light. “I’ll jump out here,” I offered. “I feel so bad that this has caused you stress – I can take it from here.”

Cynthia didn’t argue. I just saw my door lock flip open. “Thank you so much,” I said, pulling the carrier from the car.

Without a word, Cynthia flipped a U-turn – at a red light, from the right lane – and burned rubber as she left us in her rearview.

You know I felt compelled to give her five stars. Out of guilt. Somehow I don’t think she had the same compulsion.

 

Let’s see… did you really need to be there?

19 Apr

Image Source: http://www.quickmeme.com/img/91/912e90c02b8f22e482183f1940c9972ed6633bf2ecefd2907920777c81f05f8c.jpg

OK. So here’s something that provided HOURS of comedy fodder to Alan and me during our recent trip to Hawaii. I think it will be categorized as, “guess you had to be there” but I’m willing to test-drive it on an audience before sending it to an early burial. Here goes…

On our flight from Seattle to Honolulu, Alan left his Kindle in the seatback pocket of the airplane. Nevermind that the flight attendants TOLD us to check the seatback pockets for any belongings. I guess Alan was fairly confident that his contained only used napkins and drink stirrers, which would’ve (in hindsight) been about 90% accurate.

Also? He may have been under the influence of a Mai Tai (or ten) when we landed, so some of the instructions were undoubtedly ignored.

Fast forward two days, to our first opportunity to camp out in the sun and read.

“I can’t find my Kindle,” Alan informed me.

Before I could even suggest places for him to look, he said, “I’ve already searched everything and I’m pretty sure I remember tucking it into the seatback pocket on the plane.”

Doh. Fortunately I don’t enjoy reconstructing events to job people’s memories, so I wasn’t miffed.

Alan was somewhat calm about having no reading material, but I knew why: he’d had his Kindle for years and it was both clunky and glitchy, providing more headaches than smiles. He’d been planning to get a new one for some time and had only stalled out of convenience. He might not like not having a book to read on vacation, but he would certainly look forward to replacing his device.

“I bet you can replace it today so you have something to read on vacation,” I suggested – only partly altruistically since I knew Alan would be bored facing the ocean without something to read.

He immediately latched on to the idea, so we did a quick search to see where Kindles were sold. It was a surprisingly short list, made even shorter when you consider retail options on Oahu. We decided to give “Toys ‘R Us” a try since it was on our way from the North Shore to Hawaii Kai.

When we entered the mall, we couldn’t find Toys R Us. That was somewhat surprising since it’s usually large enough to be an anchor store, but we turned our sites to the directory and found that it was a “Toys ‘R Us EXPRESS.” We groaned, knowing that the “express” meant it probably had limited stock.

As we approached it my mental track sounded like playing the game show “Press Your Luck,” where I kept hearing the phrase, “No Whammies, No Whammies, No Whammies, Stop!”

Upon entering, we found one salesperson  – presumably a local high school girl – working the cash register, utterly bored but not looking for an interruption.

And here’s where we enter inside joke territory…

“Excuse me,” I said, hoping to save time. “Do you have any Amazon Kindles?”

She stared at as blankly, her mouth hanging open as if my words had caused her jaw to lock. The only thing that moved were her eyes, which shifted between Alan and me, more slowly than a metronome set for a kindergartener.

After a suspenseful pause (during which Alan and I had both scanned the shelves behind her) she said:

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhm… … … …. …. 

No.

Alan and I looked in opposite directions as we swallowed and nodded our heads, trying to formulate a question that would politely allow us to do our own search for a Kindle without insulting her.

Because clearly, she didn’t even try – she didn’t glance around or ask clarifying questions – she had just stood in place, staring at us before taking one full minute to say no. I’m pretty sure that she was trying to mentally riffle through the filing drawers of her mind to recall if she’d ever seen a Kindle, and was finding that each drawer was shockingly empty, as if she were an Enron employeed and we’d just announced an audit.

Alan beat me to the punch. His diplomatic response (as I stood shaking with quiet laughter) was, “Cool. Can you show me your electronics section then? I might find another reader.”

After fumbling for a key, she zombie-walked three feet to a locked glass door just to the right of the counter, pushing aside a rolling ladder that blocked the way. “See anything?” she asked, gesturing to row after row of LeapFrogs.

My giggling intensified, as I imagined saying, “Sorry – we’re looking for a READER, not for something to help us LEARN to read.”

Fortunately, Alan ignored me and pointed. “Hey, I think that’s an {Amazon Kindle} Fire! Could I take a look at that?”

She obliged, allowing Alan to handle the EXACT ITEM we had come in to purchase – the SAME ONE she had just said they didn’t have in stock – as long as he called it something different.

As she rang him up, we couldn’t even look at each other. We both kept making guttural, “um no” noises, the way she had told him they had no Amazon Kindles for sale. We sounded like a retail version of Slingblade while we checked out, then thoroughly lost it in the car.

For the rest of the trip, it only took one of us saying, “Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm… No?” to crack the other person up.

 

 

Look Ma – I’m flying!

5 Apr

Chopper ride over Oahu

Anyone who knows me knows I hate flying. I’m convinced that I’ll meet my end in a fiery blaze of jet fuel.

When we started planning our trip and I asked Alan what he absolutely wanted to do in Hawaii, his response was immediate: Helicopter ride.

My response was equally fast: All you, buddy.

Then a few things conspired to change my mind.

  1. Alan began guilting me. “If you’re ever going to do it, Hawaii is the place.”
  2. Alicia told me she had a few solid “posts from the grave” ready to go for Facebook, such as:
    1. Worst helicopter ride ever.
    2. Don’t do it – see my Trip Advisor review.
  3. My friend Brent hooked us up with his friend who is a pilot/instructor in Honolulu and flies with the fire department. There’s a vote of confidence.

So it was that we found ourselves lifting off over the water on Wednesday afternoon for a loop around the island with Joey, the pilot, whose calm demeanor did a lot for putting me at ease.

Because pictures are worth a thousand words, I simply offer you this:

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I am an Octopussy.

4 Apr
Hanauma Bay... not too shabby!

Hanauma Bay… not too shabby! (And I actually took this photo!)

Somehow, I made it 40 years without ever snorkeling. I’m not sure how that happened – especially since I’ve probably logged more miles in a pool in the last five years than most adults will swim in their entire lives. (Note the humble brag… that’s how it’s done, folks!)

We set out to remedy this by heading to Hanauma Bay at dawn on Thursday. We’d been warned that it is a popular spot and can get a bit crowded in the afternoon, so we rolled out of bed and zipped over there as soon as we were up. Fortunately, it’s only about nine minutes from where we’re staying, so that part was easy.

What wasn’t easy was my initial attempt at snorkeling. I hated everything about it: my flippers filled with sand (which felt horrible on my sunburned feet), the mask makes it impossible to breathe through your nose (which is generally how I breathe when swimming) and I’m a bit wimpy about things that live in oceans, so as soon as I stuck my face in the water and saw everything I could potentially step on, I had a mild freak out, during which I ripped off my mask, told Alan I hated snorkeling, and stomped to the shore.

Definitely not one of my finer moments.

In my defense: It didn’t help that the conservation/orientation video we’d just watched upon admission had featured a mean-looking eel striking out from a hole in the coral, so every time I stuck my face underwater, I imagined eels lurking in every nook and cranny, bracing for attack.

Back on shore, I gave myself a stern talking to. It sounded like this:

Get your ass back in that water. This might be your only chance to see a legit coral reef. You can’t leave here without seeing that – you’ll kick yourself.

So while Alan was swimming around looking at things, I went down to a different part of the beach that was a bit deeper and made a second attempt. This time, it was fine. And almost immediately, I saw some of the most colorful fish I could imagine, so I was immediately mesmerized.

An hour later, initial trauma forgotten, we were on our way to visit Shark’s Cove (up on the North Shore) for more snorkeling with our friends.

Borrowed from HawaiiTripper.comI’m glad I started my snorkeling adventure at Hanauma Bay where it was fairly shallow, because Shark’s Cove was rocky and fairly deep (around 20 feet in most places). Also? It was AMAZING.

The water was so clear that with the sun overhead, it was like snorkeling in an enormous fish tank. We saw all kinds of fish – and found ourselves wrapped in a school of hundreds of sparkly silver fish that moved like a wave around us.

And despite the name (which had prompted one of my friends to say, “Shark’s Cove? What could possibly go wrong?”), we didn’t see any sharks. Or eels. Or octupussies, to quote James Bond.

Turns out? I love snorkeling.

Next up: Confronting another fear – Hawaii by helicopter.

A day that will live in infamy…

3 Apr
USS Arizona by helicopter

USS Arizona Memorial – you can see the ship’s outline under the surface.

 

The only “must-see” item on our list when we were making our plans to visit Oahu was a trip to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial.

I’m no history buff (mainly because I struggle to remember the dates and details so it just seems easier to focus on the future), so although it made our list, it didn’t have any special significance to me – until I got there.

Let me start with the logistics in case you’re contemplating a trip to Pearl Harbor…

Tours of the USS Arizona Memorial are FREE but they only give out 2000 tickets each day (each for a specific time), so you’re advised to get there at 7am to claim tickets before they run out. We left our place in Hawaii Kai at 6:30am, assuming 30 minutes would be ample time to cover the 15 miles to Pearl Harbor.

Think again. Turns out Honolulu has quite the little rush hour. We pulled into the parking lot 75 minutes later and I was freaking out that we were going to be too late. Alas, we were fine. Even managed to score tickets to the 8:45 admission, so I think all the other tourists were stuck in the same traffic we were.

As we headed from the ticket booth, the National Anthem played, marking the opening of the Memorial at 8am. I have to say, when you’re looking out across the water where eight battleships were destroyed and where thousands of people lost their lives – pretty hard NOT to be moved when you hear our anthem.

The tour kicks off with a 30 minute movie that was well done and provided just the kind of WWII crash course I needed to appreciate the significance of the memorial. After viewing the video, we were herded onto a ferry that took us to the memorial, which is floating in the water above the remains of the Arizona.

I didn’t find the memorial itself that moving, but it does provide a good way to connect with the wreckage of the ship, since you can look straight down and see her underwater, knowing she still contains the bodies of over 1,000 people. THAT is moving.

When we were done at the USS Arizona, we toured the USS Bowfin, a submarine that boasts a pretty fortunate record from its missions, considering we lost 20% of our submarine fleet in WWII. I can’t fathom living on one of those vessels – just touring it was about as much as I could handle of the cramped quarters. (Admission was $12 and included an audio guide – definitely felt worth the money.)

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We wrapped up our visit to Pearl Harbor on the USS Missouri – a battleship that fought in WWII, the Korean War and the Gulf War. The “Mighty Mo” was the last battleship commissioned and the site of Japan’s surrender, which ended WWII. (Admission is $25 and includes both a guide-led tour and an audio tour.)

After a brief tour that covered some of the key highlights, we were left to explore on our own. It felt like we had full run of the ship – we were able to go downstairs and tour the living quarters (it’s good to be an officer!) and above deck we climbed to the wheelhouse, which impressed us with its bank vault-like door. It’s quite impressive that a ship like that functions as a self-contained city – making, baking or manufacturing pretty much anything it needs while at sea.

The Mighty Mo!

The Mighty Mo!

We ended up spending almost seven hours at Pearl Harbor and still didn’t get a chance to see or read everything that was available. For true history buffs, I think two days would be needed to really do it justice. For me, it did such a great job bringing history to life that I’m now curious to learn more about the Pacific portion of WWII, since almost all the history I’ve learned has focused exclusively on Germany.

Any books or films you’d recommend to help me satisfy this itch? 

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