Monday, November 9, 2009

Who you gonna call?

How about my mother!

My mother, a post depression baby, was born during the days of getting by with what you had, and utilizing everything the best you could.

So having been raised in this frugal way; in addition to growing her own huge garden (starting most of it from seed), taking care of every stray animal in town (including my father), and cooking three full meals a day, my mother once used her high school education and rotary telephone, and fortified with black coffee and cigarettes, she, in her spare time, once brought a Big Shot (her name for him) to his knees and had him begging for mercy by the time she was done with him.

She related the following story to me and for simplification her comments to me will be in italics.

It all started when Wuth (Ruth) her neighbor from across the street called in a panic after returning from a two week visit with her family.

Wuth's husband, Biwwy (Billy) had recently passed away. It had been a second marriage for both of them and unfortunately Biwwy and his first wife had a propensity for giving their offspring names that had contained l's or r's and as luck would have it Biwwy couldn't pronounce either. The family included Wandy (Randy), Tewwy (Terry), Wegis (Regis), and Wawwy whom I took to be Raleigh but was actually Wally which totally blew me away and from then on when meeting Biwwy's family I would just nod vigorously and smile like an idiot and hope that I wouldn't be called upon to address any of them by name.

Wuth (who could pronounce her l's and r's but we called her Wuth behind her back anyway) had gone to visit her own family after Biwwy passed away but not before deciding that in all fairness she needed to remove Biwwy's name from all of her utilities.

Unluckily for Wuth the electric company got their wires crossed (pun intended) and 'oops' shut off power to the house.

Wuth was apprised of the situation when upon returning home and opening her front door she was dealt with the unbelievable stench of rotting meat, spoiled milk, and decomposing vegetables.

This was because Wuth's huge refrigerator and upright freezer, both of which had been packed to bursting with every vegetable she'd sown from her garden, and every critter her family had shot, snared or trapped, had had two weeks in which to thaw. The resulting melted gelatinous mass had seeped from her refrigerator and freezer and had worked it's way across the kitchen and had been sucked up greedily by her living room carpet.

Wuth did what every respectable citizen in my little swamp town does when faced with an emergency.

She called my mother.

Putting down her cup of coffee and lighting another cigarette, my mother said, "I'll be right over."

After appraising the situation, Mom gathered Biwwy's kids (they're from Biwwy's first marriage but they love Wuth) together and told them to make a list of all the food that had been lost and to call the electric company and inform them that Wuth would be sending a bill for new carpet. And as there was no way a refrigerator or freezer could be reused after such a catastrophe, the appliances would be replaced too.

"Jesus Christ. I have to do everything!" Mom told me. "Biwwy's kids just stood there staring at me and I told them, 'Get your asses to the store and get prices on everything!' Now!"

Wuth informed my mother the next day that the electric company upon receiving Wuth's demands had basically informed Wuth that she could go pound salt.

My mother was incensed and went straight home, got on her old rotary dial phone and called the electric company herself.

"God damned automated telephone systems!" My mother complained. "I don't have one of those fancy touch tone phones and it took forever to get a real person on the line! What the hell has happened to customer service anyway! Back in my day..."

Whoever answered my mother's call basically told her that she could go pound salt.

"Get me a supervisor!" She yelled.

They did and the supervisor basically told Mom that she could go pound salt.

"Listen to me!" Mom shouted. "My first cousin once removed is an attorney (he is) and he would love to take on this case (he wouldn't) and if this woman doesn't get restitution and fast, she's gonna sue your ass off, do you hear me?"

The next day, Fred Feeblemeister from the electric company showed up at Wuth's.

He listened to Wuth's tale of woe and offered her a couple of hundred dollars which Wuth would have gladly accepted if my mother hadn't been there.

"Absolutely not!" my mother stood firm. "You will replace this woman's appliances and carpet and you'll pay her for the food she's lost."

Fred Feeblemeister tried to bluff a little but he'd never met anyone like my mother and pretty soon he scooted out of there with his tail between his legs. In the meantime Biwwy's kids had inventoried the spoiled food and had ripped up the stinking carpet. A day later Wuth called my mother and joyfully told her that the electric company had arranged to deliver a new refrigerator and that it had just arrived.

Mom took one look at it and declared it to be completely unacceptable.

"It was a piece of shit." She told me. "They sent this cheap piece of crap refrigerator and thought that would take care of everything. So I had to get on the phone again and call those idiots and I told them to come and get the damn thing and that I was calling Cousin Tim."

Joe Blowhard (Big Shot) from the electric company was the next executive to swagger onto the scene in an effort to remove this boil from the electric company's butt once and for all.

My mother was ready for him.

In a bored tone Joe Blowhard wearily informed Wuth, "We offered you this lovely refrigerator for your trouble and that is more than generous. Heck we were even going to give you twenty cents on the dollar for the food you claim was spoiled and normally we would never do that! But we care." He also very pointedly ignored my mother.

"That's hogwash and you know it." My mother told him.

"We probably took him away from some big golf match or an afternoon tryst with his slutty secretary," My mother told me later when she was relating this story. "Mom! You don't know any such thing!" I exclaimed. And Mom (who reads way too many Sidney Sheldon novels and hasn't worked in an office since 1955), shot back with, "I know exactly what goes on in the business world, I've been around you know!"

"And who are you?" Mr. Joe Blowhard asked my mother with a sneer.

Bravely stepping in front of Wuth my mother proudly stated, "I am her advocate." And Wuth who so far had said nothing, leaned around my mother and nodded.

Mr. Blowhard, wearily and with many big deep sighs, made a couple of very 'important' cell phone calls. Poor Wuth was shaking in her shoes and if not for my mother she probably would have offered to pay Mr. Blowhard restitution for all the trouble she was causing him.

A lot of jousting between my mother and Joe ensued and my mother was beginning to worry that she'd actually have to call Cousin Tim when she hit the jackpot.

Joe Blowhard had gone outside to take yet one more 'important' cell phone call when he made the huge mistake of standing in front of an open window. An open window of which my mother was on the other side.

"Oh my God, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven!" Mom said. "I heard him say, 'I've got the old biddy over a barrel and I'm done with her. That's the law.' and then there was a pause and then he said, 'Pennsylvania, why?' And there was another pause and he said 'What the hell do you mean Pennsylvania and Ohio aren't the same thing? The law is the law!' and then he said, 'Oh shit, I'll see what I can do' and hung up."

Mr. Blowhard came back in the house and he was sorry. He was so very sorry that he was rescinding his offer and he was taking the refrigerator back. He'd been a good guy, a stand up guy, but by golly a good guy can only do so much and if Wuth was going to be so unreasonable (and he hung his head because Wuth had hurt his feelings) he was taking his refrigerator and going home.

Mom laughed in his face and asked him what he took them for__ stupid?

"Huh," Joe's head snapped up.

"I said, do you think we're stupid? Just where are you from anyway?"

And poor old Joe answered, "Ohio."

"Well, no wonder!" my mother laughed derisively. "You're not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy! You're in Pennsylvania and the laws in Pennsylvania are totally different than those in Ohio. Maybe you should have done your homework."

"Huh?" another brilliant response from Joe.

"You are cooked! You are done! I'm calling Cousin Tim right now and we are taking you for everything!" and she headed for Wuth's phone.

"Wait a minute! Wait a minute!" Joe cried. "Now let's be reasonable! I think this can be settled to every one's satisfaction! I'll tell you what, you can go get whatever refrigerator and freezer you want, we'll replace your carpet, and we'll give you fifty cents on the dollar for the spoiled food."

It was all Mom could do not to kick up her heels with glee, but instead she turned to Wuth and in a somber tone said, "Wuth, I think that Mr. Joe Blowhard here has come up with a very reasonable offer and I think you should seriously consider it."

And then Wuth, who up until now had never uttered a word or an opinion, decided to get in on the act and wringing her hands said, "Well, I don't know."

My mother almost died.

Speaking very calmly, Mom said (with her hands clenched at her side and not around Wuth's neck), I really think that Mr. Blowhard appreciates what you've been through and I think that you should probably accept his offer."

And finally, reluctantly, Wuth did.

After some quick paper signing everything was settled and Wuth got her new carpet, new appliances, and a trip to the grocery store.

Joe Blowhard is probably still wondering what the hell happened.

This allowed Mom to get back to her gardening, and baking, and local township meetings where "every one is in everyone else's back pocket and Goddamn it we all know who's been stealing the bingo money from the fire hall and if someone doesn't do something about it, I will!"

Hans recently suggested that we all go together and get my parents a computer this Christmas. I was just starting to agree with him because we could send emails and pictures especially when we're away on the boat and then I remembered the above story. And I decided that if my mother could shake the rafters of a major utility with an old rotary dial telephone, who knows what havoc she could wreak with a computer? It would probably only take her seconds to find a direct phone line to the president, and then look out!

"You know what, Honey?" I said to Hans. "I don't think that's such a good idea."


Claire said...

You have the FUNNIEST stories. Go mama. :)

Sewfast said...

What a great story!!! Thanks for sharing yo Mama with us!!! :)

Kathi D said...

Good call.

Back in the day, when we needed somebody to kick ass, we engaged Rick's Nana, who did it with her Smith-Corona. A crisp letter sent straight to the top worked nearly every time.

Karin said...

Ha ha ha! WOW! That is some story! I'm going to have to read that again. And again. She sounds like a force to be reckoned with!

Janet said...

Great story Laura!