My sympathies go out to McDonald’s Steve Easterbrook

Oh dear! No more free happy meals for Steve Easterbrook, but I think his separation package will compensate.

Steve Easterbrook, C.E.O. of McDonald’s Corp. recently resigned his position because he had a consensual affair with a fellow employee of the firm. Yikes!! I have to say I feel sorry for him because I met both my first and second husbands through work, so I’m speaking from a position of experience. And many of my friends also met their spouses and partners through work. In fact, I’m inclined to think that with today’s busy lifestyles and the long hours demanded by career-building, I don’t know a better way to meet someone. When you’ve sat in meetings together, attended business functions and witnessed the behaviours of your fellow employees at the office Christmas party, you learn a lot about a person. We spend so many hours each week with our coworkers that it’s natural they become like family, with some relationships growing closer than others. We see our coworkers at their worst while under stress, at their magnanimous best when being rewarded for superior performance and we soon learn who’s kind, who’s ethical, who is lazy and who is honest. The hours we spend with our coworkers under stressful conditions offers the most comprehensive insights into their character.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t condone bullying or pressure by office predators in order to gain leverage. Heavens, no. We’ve all walked this earth long enough to know that scum bags exist but that’s not what we’re talking about here. This is about genuine consensual romantic relationships developing between coworkers, apart from #metoo. Having worked most of my career in the construction industry which is heavily weighted with male employees, the pickings were pretty good. There were many young engineers, tradespeople, technicians and other staff who mingled often with office staff. In the early years, most supervisory and management positions were male-dominated but as women entered more non-traditional fields, their numbers increased. We often joked about the ensuing relationships that inevitably developed and we were tempted sometimes to sit down and make a list of the marriages that sprang from work-related relationships in our company alone. There were dozens and perhaps even into the hundreds that resulted in people getting together at work, my own marriage being one of them.

I don’t know the specifics of Steve Easterbrook’s relationship. Perhaps he was married. Perhaps his partner was a subordinate. There are so many variables that may have been unsavory but it’s not our place to moralize. Love happens. Apparently, McDonald’s has a company policy that forbids consensual relationships with fellow employees. Their rationale is that they’re a company with strong family values and their executives and employees at all levels have to respect that dictum. Politicians are often subjected to the same moral scrutiny but as evidenced by today’s American President, it really doesn’t hold much water these days. The moral right makes the rules and they’re allowed to break them.

When relationships develop between females and a male with a higher position in the corporate hierarchy, there could be serious fallout if the relationship falls apart. It’s difficult to work with someone you’ve broken up with and women are often dealt the losing hand in these circumstances. Her male superior may want her out-of-sight, out-of-mind and find it easier to terminate her. That’s the price women have unfortunately paid for failed workplace relationships since the beginning of time. When there’s an imbalance of power, the power exerts itself. I’m no longer in the workforce but I hope that has eased up with the #metoo movement and allowed women to continue working in the same environment if they wish to do so.

My husband and I worked together for nearly 30 years before we became “an item” and we have now been together for nearly 20 years. He was certainly above me in the management structure but I did not directly report to him. We’ve had many discussions recently about how our relationship would or could have been handled under current circumstances. Fortunately, the firm we worked for did not have a “No Fraternization” policy and as a result, many happy marriages resulted from employees working together. In fact, some of the offspring of those marriages are now second-generation employees. That is a good thing for everyone. Just ask Bill and Melinda Gates or Barrack and Michelle Obama. Michelle was Barrack Obama’s boss at the law firm where they both worked and I’d say that turned out to be a rather productive relationship.

I think the American military has similar policies to McDonald’s and as a result, a very senior military advisor was recently forced to retire early when it was disclosed he’d had an affair with another officer. The military may have specific reasons for their policy, but I don’t think any corporation has the right to dictate to its workers that they cannot become romantically involved. It has no business in the bedrooms of its employees, but I do think discretion on the part of coworkers is essential. As long they are doing their job and their relationship is not negatively impacting their performance, then the employer should have no say in the matter. If I’d worked for companies with such out-dated policies I’d probably be an old maid today instead of enjoying my life with someone I love and share a similar value system with. I feel for ya’ Steve Easterbrook. I hope your next employer is more open-minded. What do you think?



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Are self-checkouts a good thing or a bad thing?

Checking out directly on your cart definitely has its advantages.

There was an item on the news this week that demonstrated the future of in-store grocery shopping. Sobey’s is test-driving new shopping carts that allow you to scan your items as soon as you pull them off the shelf. Each cart is equipped with a product scanner and sensors so you can scan your purchases immediately and drop them into your (recyclable) shopping bags sitting open in the cart. Easy peasy. No checkout clerk required. And special sensors in the cart alert you if you “forget” to scan something, preventing unscrupulous shoppers from circumventing the honour system.

Although I like the idea of getting in and out of the grocery store in as little time as possible, I have mixed feelings about this new innovation. It would be wonderful to avoid checkout lineups and the process of unloading your purchases from your cart onto a conveyor belt, then having to reload them again into your bags to go to the car. It would also prevent being subjected to clerks trying to sell me the deodorant special of the week, and the lure of gossipy magazines I tend to pick up while killing time in the lineup.

My biggest concern with self-checkouts, however, is the loss of service jobs that provide essential employment for so many semi-skilled and unskilled workers. It’s no small matter. Those service jobs are disappearing everywhere at a time when we need them. McDonald’s is using computerized graphic boards so customers can customize and place their own orders, once again by-passing the human clerk. To their credit, they have compensated for the employment issue by using staff/team members to deliver trays of food to the table in many outlets,a nice little bonus. Shoppers Drug Mart is now introducing self-checkout as well and I always opt for using a real live person to make my purchases—again because of the jobs issue. Self-serve bank machines and gas pumps were early examples of machines replacing people. Somehow we were easily tricked into doing the service providers’ work ourselves with no apparent benefit. We now have to wash our own windshields and even pay service fees to the banks for using our own money.

The voice of customer service is not the same as the face of customer service.

With so many commercial transactions now being conducted online, businesses are increasingly using their customers to do the work of what we used to call ‘Customer Service’. Even customer service has now come to mean an anonymous voice in a remote call-centre, an impersonal job staffed by people in third-world countries who speak English as a second language. Despite their scripted words, “I understand”, they rarely do.

Sobey’s executives have tried to assure customers that jobs will not be lost and they insist the people who were formerly checkout clerks will be working elsewhere in the store. I’m skeptical about this even though I would love to have personnel on the floor who could quickly and correctly direct me to where the maraschino cherries are located.

When boomers were growing up in the fifties and sixties, large supermarkets were just starting to take off. Many of our mothers still did their grocery shopping in small local stores—meat from a butcher shop, produce from the greengrocer or perhaps all the weekly groceries at a small local general store. Bread and milk were delivered to our door by nice uniformed men in trucks. If you’re a particularly mature boomer like me, you may even remember the iceman bringing blocks of ice a couple of times a week. He’d usually break off some small chunks onto the sidewalk for us kids to chew on and cool off on a hot day. And we didn’t die or even get sick from eating ice off the sidewalk. We loved it.

My father grew up in a rural community, even smaller than the one I grew up in. The local village was basically a few buildings at the intersection of two roads. A weekly trip to the general store was a big deal. Dad told me that his father would dress up in his suit and tie for the weekly trip “into town” and sit on the front porch of the store catching up on the news with the other local men while their wives did the weekly shopping. And there’s a lot to be said for having a store clerk who knows your Aunt Mildred had her gall bladder out and asks how she’s doing. Catching up on who just had a baby or whose combine broke down was an early version of Facebook but conducted in person.

Seriously? What is happening to living in and enjoying the moment of one-on-one conversation with in-the-flesh friends.

Human beings need personal, real-life interaction with other human beings. It’s a fundamental part of our makeup and conducive to good health. We hear a lot about the plague of loneliness among the elderly but I suspect it’s not just older people who feel starved of human connection. It’s tragic to see a table full of young people in a restaurant or coffee shop each focussed on their smartphones, communicating with others at a distance who are obviously more important in their lives than whoever they’re sitting with. We risk losing the art of meaningful conversation. It won’t be long before even wait staff in restaurants will be replaced by smart devices on each table that allow us to place our order. Then, we’ll even be deprived of the opportunity to say “Yes. Everything’s fine, thank you” to a real human being.

I’m torn on the self-checkout issue. Are they a good thing or a bad thing? On one hand, I like the idea of avoiding the lineup at the cashier’s counter. But that cashier probably needs the job and I enjoy exchanging a few words with him or her. I usually try to make their day a little less boring by telling them I like their hair or asking them if they have special plans for the weekend. We all need that human connection. As to whether self-checkouts are a good thing or a bad thing, one thing we know for sure, self-checkouts are an inevitable thing, whether we like it or not. I plan to avoid them as much as possible. What about you?

Footnote: Two weeks later I went into my Shoppers’ Drug Mart and the self-checkout machines had disappeared, replaced by a conventional checkout with a real-life human being. Victory for our side and one small step for humankind.

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It’s time to dump disposable fashion. Shop your closet

The retailers may die but disposable fashion lives on . . . in landfill around the world, polluting our planet.


The closing of Forever 21 retail outlets across Canada is a good news/bad news story. On one hand, it’s a realization that consumers are beginning to reject the disposable clothing culture, but on the other hand, it means lost jobs for young people who often get their first working experience in retail.  One of my favourite bloggers, retired university professor and fashionista Lyn Slater, The Accidental Icon posted a piece last week Clothes and Relationship: What’s Yours? about recognizing the importance of cutting back on the amount of clothing that ends up in landfill. She’s working with a designer to restyle her current pieces into something new and in keeping with her avante garde style.

The problems associated with the disposable clothing industry are not only about the actual disposal of the used clothing, but about the effects of production on the environment and human rights issues related to the labour used as well as the manufacturing and distribution of this clothing. Cheap clothing manufacturing has a serious affect on the world’s water supply and is responsible for 8-10% of global emissions.

Perhaps closing 350 Forever 21 stores is the beginning of much-needed change. Just one generation ago, we discarded only one-third of the clothing we do now. Clear recognition that we have to be much more discriminating about what we purchase and discard has prompted me to resurrect a piece I wrote one year ago. Its relevance is becoming more acute. Bottom line: shop your closet.

What is disposable fashion?

Are you sitting down? Burberry recently incinerated $37 million worth of their luxury brand merchandise that didn’t sell. Rather than dilute the cachet of their brand by offering it at discounted prices to the great unwashed masses (like us), they torched it. It must be lovely to have a business with such generous markups and profit margins that you can afford to just set fire to $37 million. That act of destruction reminded me of how casually we treat our possessions regardless of the cost. Not only are fashions from Zara, The Gap, H&M and other mass retailers treated as disposable fashion, so are premium brands. Our “affluenza” and consumerism has reached ridiculous proportions.

Natalie Atkinson’s recent piece in The Globe and Mail about extending the life of your personal possessions was a reminder that we need to be more thoughtful about what we buy and conscientious about managing our belongings. It came on the heels of a sobering documentary Clothing Waste – Fashion’s Dirty Secret which aired recently on CBC’s Marketplace. Both pieces highlighted the negative effects of disposable clothing on the environment and the facts presented left me feeling ashamed and totally committed to changing my wanton ways.

I used to feel vindicated when I dropped off old clothing at a charity bin until I saw on Marketplace what happens to my donations. Giant bales of excess used clothing sit in warehouses until they’re shipped to places like Africa or India. They’re then sold in street markets as used clothing—which seems all fine and dandy—until we’re shown the piles of clothing being burned behind the stalls—clothing that doesn’t sell. Brand names like Tommy Hilfinger, H&M, Old Navy and others, all go up in smoke. Even third world countries don’t want or don’t know what to do with our cast-offs.

From here . . .

We didn’t start off this way

When boomers were growing up we didn’t have the vast, disposable wardrobes we see today. In addition to a few everyday school clothes, we had a good Sunday outfit which did double duty for going to birthday parties or Christmas concerts. One winter coat, one pair of boots, one pair of everyday school shoes and one pair of good shoes was the norm and they lasted until we outgrew them. Our parents’ wardrobes were equally modest. Some of us perhaps remember our fathers having shoes resoled to extend their life. I grew up in a house built in the 1880s with no closets. My spartan wardrobe was either folded in a couple of dresser drawers or hung on hooks on the back of my bedroom door and I did just fine with fewer items.

To here . . .

How far we’ve fallen. How many boomer gals have commandeered the entire master bedroom closet for racks of clothes (many of which we don’t wear or they don’t fit) and relegated our partners’ clothes to the spare bedroom closet? It’s an insidious process, a slippery slope and regular culling, unfortunately, invites more buying.

When I first started working in 1965, I was thrilled to finally have my own money to spend on mini dresses, shoes and even fabric to sew my own version of Twiggy-inspired fashion. How could we not fall in love with what fashion was offering in the sixties? It was a total transformation from boring and practical to colourful and fun. We wanted more. Over the years, boomer gals have spent small fortunes on dressing for success, weekend wear and special event dresses. To this day I’m still filled with self-loathing when I think that I spent the equivalent of nearly a week’s wages on that burgundy ultra-suede suit that I wore for one season in the seventies. Then, there are all the matching shoes, purses, coats, jackets, accessories—well, you get the picture. Who among us wouldn’t love to have some of that wasted money now earning interest in our RRSP.

And, finally, here.

What to do, starting with myself:

I know my triggers. From now on I’m going to be more discriminating about what I purchase and avoid the following potential hazards:

  1. Trips to the mall just acquaint me with more things I do not need so I’ll minimize the number of times I visit the mall. Ditto for internet shopping.
  2. Fashion magazines are bait for suckers like me. Seeing something I like starts me longing for it. See Item 1 above.
  3. When I see things on women’s television shows that include fashion and home decorating segments I’m motivated to shop. I’d be further ahead reading my books or going for a walk instead of watching those programs.
  4. Comparing myself with the beautiful people is counterproductive. How often do we think if we just had that blouse, that bracelet, that designer handbag or pair of sunglasses, our lives would be complete.
  5. Advertising for the latest skincare or makeup product guaranteed to solve all our problems is so tempting and generally a complete waste of money. I have to work on tuning out the marketing ‘noise’ and stick with whatever basics work for me.
  6. The wellness industry including thousands of websites such as GOOP are constantly setting us up to think we need improving with supplements, diets, cleanses and other new age gimmicks that are generally a waste of money. Tune out.

This is not a definitive list but it’s a good start. These steps are actionable immediately and would make a difference not only in my self-esteem and the environment but more importantly, my bank account. We can still feel great about ourselves without being sucked into the vortex of disposable fashion, useless health and beauty products and general consumerism. Regular culling of our closets and shopping our closets serves to remind us that we already have too much and we should be much more discriminating about what we buy. I’ll definitely buy into that. Starting now. What about you?



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Is the war on plastics do-able?

Plastic doesn’t biodegrade so where does it all go?

Every piece of plastic that has ever been created . . .  still exists. Think about that. I certainly do as I cast my eyes across all the plastic shampoo and other bottles in the shower every morning, as I look at all the plastic containers in my pantry and fridge, when I toss plastics into recycling, never sure if they will actually be recycled. Our world is built on plastic and will die from plastic overload. Each of us is trying her best to be environmentally conscientious but the odds are stacked against us. No matter how hard we try to eliminate plastics from our lives, it’s an uphill battle. Third world countries are still dumping it into the streets which flow into the drainage systems, which drain into creeks and rivers, that drain into oceans and collect until a green-minded environmentalist tries to collect it with a net, to be deposited . . . where?

Plastic drinking straws are small in size but huge in the overall impact of pollution on our planet. The banning of plastic drinking straws and other single-use plastics is a controversial and growing problem. It’s horrifying to see pictures of creatures in the wild starving because there’s a plastic packaging ring wrapped around their mouths making it impossible to feed. Autopsied whales have revealed huge amounts of plastic waste in their stomachs, giving them the sensation of having eaten while gaining zero nutrition.

The most gratifying part of my Mothers’ Day surprise lunch from Harvey’s was not the food itself but the fat orange paper straw in the (waxed) paper cup full of Diet Pepsi. The Harvey’s orange straw wasn’t like the ones we sipped our cherry Cokes through in the 50s and 60s that disintegrated before you were finished. This one had heft. It’s a small step but a long overdue and much-appreciated option to single-use plastic straws. Paper is recyclable and a replaceable resource.

I’m trying to be conscientious about reducing pollution but I feel it’s not working. Today when I rolled those giant bins out to the curb and took a last peek inside, I was shocked to see that my recyclables were twice the amount of my regular garbage. While recycling should be a good thing, viewing my own garbage only illustrates what a wasteful society we are. All those plastics that are being manufactured and distributed every day are only bloating our planet’s wastes. I diligently tear paper labels off cans and bottles before rinsing and disposing of them into the appropriate recycling bin. And I discreetly take things my honey has inadvertently dropped into the trash bin and move them into recycling. But, it’s discouraging to learn that much of what we put in our recyclable bins still goes to landfill.

We managed just fine in the ’50s and ’60s (my boomer frame of reference) without plastic grocery bags, plastic straws, plastic bottles and all the other items we use so ubiquitously today. That got me thinking about what substitutions could easily be made without too much disruption in function. Many plastic items could easily be replaced by paper or wood products which could be sourced from Canada’s vast renewable lumber industry:

Don’t forget your reusable bags.
  • Plastic grocery bags – Paper or reusable cloth bags
  • Styrofoam takeout food and drink containers – Paper
  • Plastic straws – paper or reusable stainless steel
  • Plastic cutlery – wooden or bamboo utensils
  • Plastic produce bags – cotton net bags much like the ones we use for laundry delicates
  • Single-use bottles of water – refill stainless steel containers from the tap

And the list goes on. Every time I drop something into the garbage, I’m plagued with guilt. It’s hard to avoid when most of our everyday consumer goods are wrapped in or made of plastic. I have a giant 30-ounce stainless steel thermal cup and stainless steel straw I use to tote my daily supply of water around in the car. I use the same kind of cup for my refills at Timmie’s. It’s gratifying to see some plastic items being replaced with paper but we have a long way to go.

I’m restricting my consumption of discretional consumer goods like clothing and do-dads. We already have more than we need and I’m getting too old for all the work involved in staging a yard sale. I’ve donated boxes and bags of goods to various charities but our house is still chock-a-block with stuff, plastic and otherwise. I’m not really prepared to go full-on Marie Kondo yet but I know we could live a lot more simply than we do. Do I contribute more to landfill or let it continue to fill my home?

Remember in the fifties when we used to take fish and chips home from the chip shop wrapped in newspaper? Groceries were packed in large paper bags that our mothers reused for garbage disposal. We owned one car per family if we owned a car at all. We had one television, one telephone on the kitchen wall, one winter coat, one pair of good shoes for Sunday and special occasions and another pair for every day, one white purse for summer and a black or brown one for winter.

We could learn so much from adopting so many of the methods our parents (The Greatest Generation) used to reduce and save waste. Most boomers probably remember our fathers resoling their work shoes rather than tossing them and buying a new pair. We’re shameless consumers with more shoes, jeans, tops, coats, purses, and toys than we need or even use. We need bigger houses with bigger closets and kitchens to store all the crap we’ve accumulated over the years. As boomers, it’s scary to even think of the work involved in downsizing. It’s tempting to just dodge our responsibility and leave everything for our kids to dispose of after we die. Imagine how thrilled they’ll be to inherit all our old china, out-of-date furniture, worn-out linens, and mismatched crystal glassware.

Shame on us.

I’m not suggesting we turn back the clock but affluence has come at a terrible cost to our planet. Third world countries are sending back our garbage. I didn’t even realize we were shipping it overseas until China and Malaysia went public with the news they were no longer accepting it.

Baby boomers are a generation of serious polluters who begat generations of even greater polluters. We’ve realized the error of our ways and most of us are trying to make amends but the problems seem insurmountable. I’m actually in favour of tough laws at a federal or provincial level that forces us to reduce consumption and pollution.  We need a strong and united political front to lead the charge. Outlawing plastic bags and straws seems like a tough and perhaps unworkable measure, but that’s what we need to consider doing.

I’m willing to pay more for products in glass reusable bottles that require a refundable deposit. Collecting and returning scavenged glass pop bottles as a kid guaranteed I had a steady income stream for Dubble Bubble and red licorice. That system could work again. I’m trying to reduce my own personal consumption. We have to keep trying. And we have to vote for politicians who will make the difficult decisions needed to get the ball rolling. I’m not sure we’ll be able to make much of a difference in our lifetimes, but it’s imperative that we convince the upcoming generations of the seriousness of the situation and trust them to do the right thing. Can we? Will they? It’s a scary prospect and I hope someone steps up to the plate before it’s too late. If it’s not already.



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Is the war on plastics do-able?
Don't forget your reusable bags.

Do you ever play the grocery cart shame game?

Shame, shame, shame. (Didn’t Shirley & Company sing about that in 1975?)


On my more virtuous days when my grocery cart is full of organic produce, fresh-pressed Green Goddess juice and two kinds of quinoa, I like to cast a critical eye on what’s in the cart of the person ahead of me or behind me in the lineup. It’s a bitchy and small-minded exercise in me getting all sanctimonious and judgey. When I see a cart overflowing with bags of white Wonder Bread, cases of soft drinks, frozen mac n’cheese, Doritos and heavily sugared breakfast cereals, I get all self-righteous and mentally think, “No wonder you weigh 300 lbs.”.

Then, there are the days when I’m dropping in for a few pantry staples—beans, ketchup (Canadian French’s, of course), mayonnaise, Rocky Road ice-cream and a couple of bags of Ruffles, I’m more than a tad embarrassed. I avert my eyes and hurry my purchases into the bag. Should I explain to those in the lineup ahead of or behind me, that this isn’t the sum total of my weekly shopping? I feel obliged to explain that my normal weekly groceries generally include organic produce, grass-fed cow’s milk, fresh fruit, chia seeds, and extra virgin organic olive oil. I buy quality Ace bread (which I only allow myself to eat on weekends—how’s that for discipline?), hormone-free, organic meat and as many fresh and non-GMO’d products as I can manage. I feel like someone should care. Seeking vindication.

Much better, and not necessarily more expensive.

There’s another nasty habit I have that I shouldn’t share, but it’s just you and me here so I will. I also tend to be critical of the food choices by people who claim that eating well and/or eating healthy is expensive. I’ve seen 10-lb. bags of carrots for $5.00. Tomatoes in season are cheaper and easier than trying to grow your own in a pot on your deck or balcony. Zucchinis are so abundant and cheap they’re practically free. For the price of a small container of ice-cream (which I’m ashamed to say I can consume in a single session), you can get an entire bag of grapes or a bunch of bananas. Ontario apples are ridiculously cheap when purchased by the 5 lb. or 10 lb. bag, particularly in the fall when they’re in season. I’m a true believer in “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”.

Our 21st-century taste buds are so conditioned to needing food that’s overloaded with fat, sugar, and salt, that it takes some time to readjust our pallet to appreciate real food at its best. Years ago I stopped taking sugar in my tea and then started reducing it in other areas of my diet as well. It’s been a journey. I’ve also become an enthusiastic label-reader. I’m far from perfect (having a sweet tooth) but I do try.

I’m also extremely concerned about the high percentage of us who are getting unexplainable cancer. Most of us know not just a couple of people suffering from the disease, but far too many. It’s rampant and I wonder if there’s something in our food chain that Big Agra and the corporate food producers should answer for and are not fully disclosing. I understand the rationale behind all the pesticides and fertilizers used to protect and grow our crops but how much of it is getting into the food we consume on a daily basis?

You might want to avoid me in the grocery store.

Sometimes, however, science and logic defy the rules. There are people who consume all the foods I look down my nose at, who smoke and drink to excess and amazingly live to a ripe old age. Then, as we’ve all witnessed, others who live a healthy lifestyle and are careful about everything they eat, yet they’re the ones who face a health crisis. It’s unfair and illogical. But that doesn’t mean we should just throw caution to the wind and live on junk food.

I did once advise the woman behind me in the lineup to not the buy the dried pigs’ ears she had picked up for her dog. I cautioned her against Asian pet food and treats, which she seemed to appreciate and removed them from her cart. (We have a friend whose dog died of kidney failure after eating dried “chicken tenders” loaded with unknown, unlabelled chemicals so I’m on high alert.) We can eat whatever we choose, but please don’t feed helpless animals something that might harm them.

I’ll probably never stop mentally critiquing your purchases in the lineup at the grocery store but in order to avoid public violence, I should probably keep my opinions to myself. But, I’m warning you, I’ll be watching your shopping cart. Don’t make me say something! Unless, of course, there’s some Black Jack Cherry ice-cream or Ruffles in my cart, in which case I’ll just keep my big mouth shut. Then, it’s shame on me.


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Do you ever play the grocery cart shame game?
You might want to avoid me in the grocery store.

NO! I definitely do not need my ducts cleaned.

Those annoying telemarketers give the entire industry a bad reputation.


Does anyone know how to stop those infernal, annoying, never-ending calls from telemarketers trying to sell me duct-cleaning services? It’s been going on for years and they nail me anywhere at any time. I was sitting in the hairdressers yesterday and ring…ring…ring. I rarely use my cellphone so when it rings it’s always my husband. Not this time. After fumbling in my purse, digging out my phone from the bottom layer of purse detritus and trying to figure out how to turn it on to take an incoming call, only to hear . . .  “This is XYZ Duct-Cleaning Services calling . . . “

The other day I was pickling beets in the kitchen. Just as the sticky mixture of cider vinegar and sugar came to a boil on the stove, the phone rang, and once again – duct cleaners. They interrupted me just long enough for the sugary vinegar mixture to boil over on the stove . . . and there aren’t words to describe the mess it created, not to mention the stream of bad-swears uttered in anger and frustration. For the record, a boiling mixture of cider vinegar and sugar turns hard as titanium when it erupts like a volcano from the pan and hits a flat surface. Or a vertical surface like the front of the stove. Or the floor. You get the picture.

Is it still illegal to put out a contract on telemarketers?

Even though I’m on a Do-Not-Call list for telemarketers (which obviously is not effective), I have a variety of responses when they do call. It ranges from a simple hang-up to screaming at them, informing them I have radiators, not ducts (a lie), yelling at them to never call me again, and ordering them to take me off their call list. Nothing works. They’re as persistent as . . . well, telemarketers selling duct-cleaning services. Our neighbour told me that when she informed them she didn’t have ducts, they insisted she did! What’s a girl to do?

They interrupt meals; they interrupt my favourite tv shows; they interrupt my entire life. I can’t imagine these calls generate enough sales to even pay the minimum-wage earners who place the calls, with a little robo-help, of course. I’ve considered recording the number they’re calling from and blocking it, but the number isn’t always the same. Sometimes it’s a 289 area code; sometimes it’s 416; other times it’s 905 or 647, or the ubiquitous 800 or 866. I don’t know who’s calling until I pick it up and hear that familiar, dreaded pause before the spiel.

It seems self-defeating and counter-productive to have to disconnect my home phone and cell just to avoid the telemarketers but extreme circumstances call for extreme measures. Too bad there wasn’t some kind of tear gas that we could release through the telephone lines to temporarily disable them. If you have any suggestions, send them my way. I’m desperate. Even illegal measures will be seriously considered. The greater question that now remains is who should I call when I actually do need my ducts cleaned?



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