The best defense is a good offense…

May 30, 2009 § 3 Comments

My not-so-secret strategy to befriend every canvasser in Portland is starting to work. Yesterday, on my walk home, I encountered two different Children’s International workers with positively delightful results.

The first was V, who I know because he was my surprise-and-delight target a few months back. V is my favorite to run into as he is always all about the free hugs. We chatted for a few minutes about the heat and people being mean to him. I was then able to get my free hug (and one of those fist-pound thingys) and head on my way.

The second was a girl I’ve spoken with a few times, but whose name I can never remember. She looked at me and said “Yeah, you already have a sponsored child, huh?” I nodded. She smiled. “You would.”

Really? I’m adding that to my list of favorite things people I don’t really know at all have said to me. “You would.” I love it.

I’m a long way, obviously, from getting to the point where I can walk anywhere in this city with similar results, but yesterday made me feel like I was on my way. I’m pretty amped about my little mission. As someone who walks basically everywhere, and then takes walks for fun, the idea of completely eliminating all awkward “No, I don’t really have enough money” (which is pretty true) encounters is super appealing. I’ll keep you posted.

FYI, if you’d like to participate in the movement, here’s the not-so-genius strategy: Be aggressive… be, be aggressive and approach a canvasser first. Smile as big as you can, shake their hand, ask how they’re doing… they’re used to being avoided, and this throws them off their game. Ask what they are supporting, but come right out with “I honestly won’t be signing up for anything today. I do, however, support what you’re doing and think it must suck to be out here.” The first time, you will be stuck talking for about 5 minutes while they try to make the sale. Say no, but tell them your name. After awhile, you’ll start to only run into canvassers you know, and if you repeat the game plan enough times (I seem to average two times before they remember me), they start to recognize you, wave to you, and not pitch to you! If you ever want to skip immediately to the no-pitch buddies step and have a few bucks, buy them coffee. Works like a charm, and costs a heck of a lot less than $25 a month. Most seem to position themselves strategically near coffeehouses anyhow. 🙂 If you do ever want to sponsor a kid or something, do it. They seem to have a solid network, and will spread the word and completely lay off you if you do. (Disclaimer: this does not work with all canvassers, as canvassers are people and all have different needs and reactions. I’m not responsible if you try it and get stuck buying a polar bear. Be strong. Persevere.)

I know most of you think I’m insane now, or still, but I spend a lot of time thinking about this stuff. I walk past the same 10 canvassers almost everywhere I go. People bring it up in conversations with me weirdly often. It’s a daily issue, kids. So just roll with it. This is working better than anything else I’ve tried so far.

If you see V, give him a hug. He likes that.



This won’t bother you nearly as much as it bothers me…

May 26, 2009 § 7 Comments

Grammar Girl informed me today that it’s alright (edit: upon closer inspection, and to her credit, she said it might be ok, but she is also skeptical) to begin a sentence with the word “for,” if by “for” I mean “because.” Which means I could say something like this:

I am exhausted. For I have taken my dog on a very long walk.

Does that seem wrong to anyone but me? I mean, really? I could get behind I am exhausted, for I have taken my dog on a very long walk. I just don’t think I can take it as two separate sentences. Icky icky yuck.

The whole thing is just making me itchy.



May 18, 2009 § 7 Comments

It is perfectly fine with me if the people of Abercrombie & Fitch want to continue to try to asphyxiate their customers. But could we try to keep the toxic fume cloud inside the building? My having to cross to the other side of the street to avoid death-by-cologne is completely unacceptable.

Side note: the word asphyxiate is making me very happy. Yx is the coolest letter combination ever. Are there other yx words floating around out there? I’d like to meet them.

In The Eye of the Beholder

May 16, 2009 § 5 Comments

Note to Rascal Flatts: I understand that, after reading this story, you’ll most likely want to write a song about it. I think it’s right up your alley. Feel free.

It’s been that kind of a day today.

I struggle, sometimes, with the superficiality of my job. It’s loads of fun, but in the end I am still expected to close the deal. I’ve always done well in sales and always felt a little funny about it… I mean, it’s not like I’m saving lives. I’m selling dresses. Important dresses, sure, but dresses. I’m working for the man and the empire. I’m not really doing anything all that meaningful.

Today, what I do mattered. Today, I was humbled and smacked upside the head for being short-sighted and cynical. Today was a good day.

You see, we have this dress. It’s an old, old dress that’s been hanging around the sample sale pile for at least six or seven years. The edges are yellowing and the beadwork looks like it has narrowly survived a natural disaster. The neckline is cut remarkably high, a look that screams 1994 and would make most conservative grandmothers rather happy. There is a giant, cliche, borderline farcical bow that snaps (yes, snaps… biggaudymetal snaps) on just above the badonkadonk. It’s not a very pretty picture, this dress in its sorry old plastic bag.

I’ve been mocking this dress. I’ve been whining about it, threatening to donate it, and claiming that its presence alone was a threat to our credibility as a retail establishment. I’ve implied, nay, insisted that it could not possibly serve a purpose on this planet, ever. As you can imagine, I haven’t done so subtly. I’ve been a big jerk to this dress.

Today. Today, the sweetest bride arrives with an army of annoyed looking women who practically vibrate around the store, exchanging unhappy phrases in Japanese. They are skeptical of price, have only so much to spend, have been treated poorly. They are protective of the bride, and they are fierce. Somehow, in the frenzy and the yelling and the buzzing, they emerge with the dress. I cringe, subtly (I do at least that much subtly), and obligingly hang my nemesis in the fitting room.

It isn’t until the bride is undressing that I see the scars… the open, new, painfully raw scars that are freckled across her torso and neck. They huddle in with the lumps of small tumors, bruises, and unnatural indentations. The cancer, she says, took her hair… she had beautiful hair. I, for once, have nothing to say.

I know I don’t have to tell you how this all went down. You are smarter than me, and you’ve seen it already. That dress, that ugly, forgotten, embarrassing dress, covered those scars perfectly. It will take work to make it beautiful, but the work will be done, and the beginning is there. She had a thousand dollars to spend, and bought my least favorite dress at $125. It will be rebeaded, restored, refinished, and it will cover her scars. She had been looking for quite awhile for a dress that would make her feel safe and beautiful on her wedding day, and that dress will be the one. She has an impossibly wonderful smile.

There was joy, today. They thanked me, and hugged me, and left happy. I sat in the back room for awhile and let myself cry.

We are short-sighted. We look so often at something, someone, and fail to see the potential through the missing pieces, the stains, the broken parts. We forget that God is in the timing. We forget that He takes broken edges and fits them together like puzzle pieces, creates something beautiful from something tattered, harbors a perfect plan for what we have rejected. Often it is the smallest of things that reminds us. I am reminded today.

I’m not THAT tall…

May 14, 2009 § 1 Comment

What I’m laughing about today: the Tall Girl Triple Glance (TGTG), as presented to me by, oh, half of Portland on my walk home this afternoon. I would like to point out that I was only wearing 1″ heels, which shouldn’t even count. I mean, come on.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, the TGTG goes like this:

1) General glance, with a quick look at my face… the height registers.
2) Quick, shameless glance at my shoes to check for some sort of platform… perhaps I’m standing on a box? Nope.
3) Back up to my face, this time with a clearly searching expression that is so very honestly, albeit not very subtly, trying to decide whether or not I’m really a girl. Thankfully, I usually get a smile if I catch them at this point.

Hilarious. I’m not sure why some days are TGTG days… usually, I’m at least wearing a serious heel and topping out at about 6’3″…. but today, today I was just little old me, and TGTG they did. Good thing I’m not shy.

Thank you to the man on the bench who actually said to his dog: “Look, honey, that girl is so tall… isn’t she lovely?” You, sir, are my hero of the day. And no, I don’t play basketball.


Good all the time…

May 13, 2009 § Leave a comment


today the world accosts from all sides
the man on the bicycle wobbles only once
offering me his finger and going darkly on his way
the rain begins
and silly me, i have again forgotten
to change the blades on my windshield wipers
i drive with soggy vision
the streets are treacherous
and the radio politely refuses to play

i wear Your love like a merit badge

like armor

like skin

Where Am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for May, 2009 at Girl of Cardigan.