Signs of the Times

File this under “Politics.”

Not the national one.

The fun one.

There’s a nearby business/industrial property situated on a corner where a yellowish brick warehouse sits about 100 yards back from passing traffic that’s chock full of tractor trailers, commuters and vans and SUVs full of softball moms and all their gear.

A single macadam entrance to its loading dock that is narrowed by a rolling, chain link fence gate and concrete barriers remains visibly unvisited by day. But at the end of each day the gate with its single, rusted, NO TRESPASSING sign rolls closed for the night. Alien-esque, sometime before the next dawn, it reopens but no matter how early you pass by, the gate is already open once again.

The front and one side of the building’s frontage otherwise devoid of landscaping consists of a grass lawn that’s home to one modern metal sculpture and a tree or two. It dips into a hollow leading to a long-abandoned front office entrance. There, a tiny, lineless paved lot looks like it once served the company president, staff and visitors (but not the peons). The entire building rear and opposite side hides behind a railroad track embankment and a fenced in lot full of nondescript storage trailers.

The few windows in front reveal nothing about its contents save for a tiny, dilapidated wooden sign, peeling with age. Some of the stick-on black letters have peeled off leaving silhouettes announcing the company name: So and So Imports.

In the past, Stick Chick occasionally noted NO TRESPASSING signs on the lawn but not much else, and certainly not the number of notices that passersby could have placed announcing everything from nearby homes for sale to political rants, lost pets or yard sale ads.

Stick Chick has always maintained that the place must be a front for a clandestine government operation or more nefarious pursuits. Never would you see people bustling about and only once or twice in two decades of passing by on a regular basis did she ever see a vehicle coming or going from that skinny side entrance.

Most recently, and more ironically, facing each of the two roads that meet at the corner, someone unseen, placed a big yellow sign with red stencil-painted letters announcing NO SIGNS ON YARD.

Stick Chick laughed aloud the first time she saw them, imagining the poor bastard assigned to paint and plant the signs announcing no signs.

Some soul with a deeper sense of irony and humor than she recently planted a new accompanying sign. If you are driving and pass by quickly, you might miss it. But just the other day, Stick Chick turned the corner with v2.0 in the passenger seat who erupted with a fit of giggles that lasted a good half mile.

Neil Patrick Harris and the writers of How I Met Your Mother would be proud to know that Barney Stinson’s oft delivered line has made it into the common vernacular.

No Signs

Kudos to the maker of the renegade sign, and the local who took this photo and posted it on Facebook. Stick Chick would be pleased to give proper credit on that one.

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Cute Bra Right?

That depends on what you expect. Ask any woman about bra shopping, and she’ll likely possess at least one tale of improbable fit, pokey underwires, itchy lace, and ill-fitting cups, not to mention a few harsh words for the designers. But, before we plunge too deeply into that rabbit hole, you’ll need some background.

Before the 2016 American presidential election, which catapulted the real world headlong into an alternate-reality caricature of itself, Stick Chick had a gripe about American trade with China and was pleased to hear candidates talk about renegotiating deals.

Could we talk about quality control of important products?

For humanitarian reasons, Stick Chick makes a practice of avoiding purchase of products made or assembled in China despite their lower price tags. This remains a great challenge because of the temptation to shop on the cheap.

Similarly, she avoids shopping at Wal-Mart [which she calls Wally World; see Vacation the movie] in protest of its policies which help to keep its low-wage workers poor and its endless supply of Chinese-made products. But, despite her best efforts, her options are often narrowed or wholly unavailable.

She noticed this challenge when she shopped for a fabric shower curtain. Stick Chick scoured online and in department stores until, after three months of searching, she had to admit defeat. She could not find a single shower curtain anywhere that was not made in China. In a fit of defiant indignation, she opted to keep the old one until it falls off its rings.

Failed-Inspection-Tags

Her reasons for avoiding purchases of Chinese made items are admittedly not entirely altruistic; Stick Chick also takes issue with the lack of quality control.

Case in point: a recent online bra-shopping experience

The low price should have been a tip-off, but the reviews (which in retrospect had to be faked) glowed. No mention of the bras’ country of origin appeared. The photos that showed off the delicate feminine features and the variety of colors made them attractive. Reviews supported the idea that products were true to size.

After checking the size chart and reviews, Stick Chick ordered her “usual” size in two colors: pink and light blue.

Puzzling to the point of comical, the supposed pink one could be better described as “soft peach” (which was not even an option.) But it was not so unattractive as to dissuade her from keeping it. Likewise, the light blue could better be described as “smoky seafoam green.” Again, not what she expected but pretty too.

The surprise she discovered, about which there was no mention in the product description, was the extenders included in the package with each bra. Bonus.

Had the extenders matched the bras, it might have been more so. The soft peach bra included a neon pink extender. The smoky seafoam green had an added electric medium-blue one.

Chinese Bra IMG_2862

Stick Chick imagined the factory offloaded overstock extenders to gain favor for sending freebies. That, or they’d unknowingly hired either a colorblind employee or one with zero fashion sense.

Stick Chick tried the bras on for size and determining they fit fine without using extensions, laundered them. The rub came after the first wash. Both bras shrunk so much that they no longer fit. Not even close. No way, no how.

Realizing the true purpose of the included extenders, she thought they should have come with this notice:

“We know they don’t match, but hold on to them. You’re gonna need them.”

Judge the lack of QC for yourself and make a mental note of this the next time your government wants to arrange a trade deal with China for something slightly more important like, say, I don’t know, scaffolding or airplane parts.

Can we just make sure it includes a clause about quality control?

Stick Chick was right about the Monday thing and the Brainiacs

It’s the season once again when Loverboy finds himself incensed and dismayed, the result of the neighboring property owner’s choice to rely upon a questionable landscaping company hired to maintain the adjacent greenery.

As you may recall, Stick Chick has observed that Loverboy has a thing (read: “twisted thing”) about the lawn. The day after so much as a drop of rain falls, a neurosis compels him to get out there and mow the grass before it becomes uncontrollable (read: “visible.”) But, that’s okay. Most years nature strikes a balance between days of rain and sun, so their lawn tends toward the enviable.

In seasons past, at 7:00 AM each Monday morning, the lawn maintenance team (whom we’ll hereinafter refer to as ACME Contracting) would show up with their staff of three, a zero turn mower and two weed whackers to commence blasting across the 1,600 SF of macadam parking lot/dumpster station, shaded picnic nook (read: “place where kids hide from their parents to smoke”), dog business spot and lawn. Apparently on a strict schedule, if they missed the usual Monday, well, bummer (read: “foiled again.”)

During the winter, to his credit, the neighbor erected stylized apartments to replace the former historic (read: leaning, crumbing and long-neglected) buildings that once claimed the space. These featured early 1900s era outbuildings including a commercial storage barn, sheds and a farmhouse that had, probably in the 1950s, been converted into apartments and rented garages. Until their demolition, no visible updates appeared save for a celebratory piece of oriented strand board nailed haphazardly covering a hole in the sagging roof (read: or to protect against probable Y2K fallout) —she was never sure which.

The new construction included hand placed sod lawn surrounding the buildings and parking lot, and a modest attempt at shrubbery and mulch along the street facing façade. Sadly, it appeared that lawn maintenance for the summer season would be postponed likely a result of pinching of construction pennies in the final days. But the balance of scorching sunny days and trickles of rain interspersed one another with just enough nourishment to keep the dying sod alive.

Stick Chick Lawnmower

This year when spring arrived, Loverboy and Stick Chick (lacking the talent of a drummer playing Wipeout) waited with hopeful anticipation for the neighboring lawn maintenance team to arrive. Despite evidence to the contrary, Stick Chick said, “I’m sure they’ll do a better job this year,” when Loverboy gruxed about the inconsiderate and shoddy nature of the neighbor’s attempt at upkeep.

This Monday morning, on schedule at 7:00 AM in the pouring rain, Stick Chick stifled both a laugh and gasp of amazement to see that the Brainiacs had indeed sent a replacement “crew” of one with an aging push mower that sent clumps of sod flying through blades set a full two inches higher than Loverboy’s preferred blade height setting. Stick Chick recommends that the new landscape company (read: “sod butcher”) consider a name that seems par for the course: Take It Off my Rent Thanks.

Good help is hard to find.

 

Deficiency Free…if you like that kind of thing

Not all marketing plans should make it beyond the planning stage.

awesome-real-estate-sign-1024x768
photo courtesy therealdeal.com

Case in point: A nearby convalescent and rehabilitation center promoting its recently achieved high marks from the state agency on inspecting-nursing-homes-care-centers-and-such has a sign placed on its front lawn.

In bold capital letters the sign reads,”DEFICIENCY FREE,” followed by other verbiage along these lines:

“according to the inspectors who found nothing wrong”

“Happy Acres Rehabilitation <— not its real name”

Kudos indeed. While the grade bodes well, how many drivers pass the sign each day with time only to read the first word?

Stick Chick found herself pondering the sign in rapid-fire stream of consciousness style; “deficiency free,” “no deficiencies,” “Oh, that means they did well,” and “What are the possible deficiencies?”

“Are we talking dust bunnies under the beds, nurse uniforms wrinkled, jello that doesn’t jiggle, or more insidious issues of patient neglect, medication delivery errors or records falsification?”

The whole process caused more negative reflection than positive even though Stick Chick is more the glass half full sort of chick. What would her more cynical friends think?

Granted, the term reflects the actual wording used by the grading agency to record whether an institution is up to snuff or in need of redress of its sub par practices. However, it’s doubtful that the general public thinks in those terms.

A brochure or detailed online account of how the grading agency scores and how the center meets or exceeds the governmental regulations is a better use of promotional dollars. From a marketing standpoint, five better choices for the lawn sign stand out.

  1. Top Rated
  2. Perfect Score
  3. High Marks
  4. Best in Class
  5. We Rock more than Chairs

Okay, the last one’s a stretch, but you get the point.