Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lovin' Punctuation; Hating Radio Shack

I hate Radio Shack. I HATE Radio Shack. They made me so angry, I came home and kicked my kicking bag.

With the wrong foot.

So now it's screaming in pain at me. I don't know what I was thinking. (There was a moment where I was trying to figure out whether it would be worse to stand on the bad foot while kicking with the good foot, or kick with the bad foot while standing on the good foot. I can figure out electronics, but I couldn't figure out that I needed to stand on the BAD foot and bang the GOOD foot with all my might against the kicking bag filled with a hundred pounds of sand until it crashed over and broke the speaker on the right of the TV. (I am so proud I did not forget all my TKD training.)) Cripes. It's like God gave me a little intelligence in one place and made me supremely stupid in others to make up for it.

I very pleasantly told the Radio Shack people I didn't want any help. What is so hard about that? It's not like I was bothering anyone. I just wanted to figure out what I needed by myself thank you very much.

And when they wouldn't leave me alone, when the THIRD freaking person came up to me, I gave up and tried to be nice and answered, "I want a black box with a blue dot." (I actually held up a plug and said I just wanted the plug and I'd connect the wires myself, but it's easier to write 'black box with a blue dot' while telling the story.)

He proceeded to ask me why, wanting to tell me a different way. I KNEW I didn't know the terminology and I would explain it wrong.

So I repeated myself: I just want a black box with a blue dot.

He asked questions. He held up orange boxes, green boxes, purple circles and yellow stars, telling me I might need those.

I said again: I want a black box with a blue dot.

He asked questions, I gave in and answered. I got to the car, looked in my hand, and I did NOT have a freaking black box with a blue freaking dot.

I go back in. I wave the people away and get the freaking black box with a freaking blue dot ALL BY MYSELF, which was what I wanted to do in the first place.

I go to return the purple polka-dotted wires and they asked for my phone number. I very nicely told them I don't give that out. They asked for my address; I told them I did not give that out, either.

"We just need it 'for the system.'"

They said they CAN NOT DO RETURNS UNLESS YOU GIVE THEM YOUR PRIVATE INFORMATION! Let's just say, after angry words were exchanged, I finally told them I lived at 1234 Dick Avenue. (Okay, I said Wood Avenue, but I wish now I had said Dick Avenue, or even better, Asshole Avenue. Why can't I think of these things in the moment???)

I get home and kick the kicking bag with the wrong foot to get it out of my system. My foot is throbbing and already swollen. At least I feel better. Does that make me a masochist? And if so, why can't I enjoy the dentist more?

IS IT SO HARD TO LET ME LOOK AT THE FREAKING PLUGS AND FIGURE IT OUT MYSELF? I WILL GET IT RIGHT! AND IF I GET IT WRONG, TOUGH! IT'S MY FREAKING MONEY!

I do not play well with stubborn idiots. *sigh*

I can handle getting in a car wreck without losing my head, I can handle power outages and flooding ruining my things and gas prices costing an arm and a leg and Obama voting to violate our privacy and Bush for eight years and the Iraq war and the person I love most being away for six months and having to eat spaghetti endlessly and having a hurt foot for two years and spending five thousand to not get it fixed and not having health insurance to waste more money on it and two thousand dollars worth of dental treatment but I CAN NOT HANDLE SOMEONE ASKING FOR MY PHONE NUMBER.

That makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

AND GUESS WHAT, RADIO SHACK? I actually needed a BLACK BOX WITH A BLUE DOT and it FREAKING worked and I was RIGHT so THERE!

Big breath in, big breath out.

Big breath in, big breath out.

Big breath in, plaster fake smile, big breath out.

Bury my face in cat's fur and give him a noogie.

Okay.

I'm better now.

On to the post I wrote earlier, when I was in a much happier mood. So off goes angry mood, on goes the yellow twinkling sunflower lights strung around the porch.

I love punctuation. Lately, since I've been reading Son of the Circus by John Irving, I've been indulging in a few more colons and semi-colons.

I feel so naughty.

I know you're supposed to just split the sentence into two nowadays: semi-colons are out of date and considered old-fashioned. (Was that proper archaic use of the colon?)

But gosh, are they fun.

My one editor wrote before she made a site to sell stories. She used punctuation. With her, punctuation was an art form, a sculpting of phrases.

Oh, and colons! Don't get me started: I love the colon.  I'm quite hesitant because I don't actually know the rules. I mean to look them up. I've never really used the colon before, so I think I'm due a period of exploration, no?

While reading Irving, I thought, "What are you afraid of? That a sentence will end???"

While looking at my writing the next day, I asked myself, "What am I afraid of? That a sentence might end?"

If I'm not playing with semi-colons or colons, I'm starting sentences with ands and buts. Not only do I fear a sentence ending, but I'm not all that crazy about it starting, either.

What next?

Will I be so afraid the reader might stop reading at the end of a sentence that I write a whole novel in one long sentence?

Come to think of it, I bet that would be a literary coup. It'd be the ultimate in style and fashion: everyone would buy it and no one would read it.

Colons? Semi-colons? What do you think? I'm waiting for my editor to write and ask me what the hell I'm doing.

26 bonus scribbles:

lainey bancroft 7/10/2008 08:00:00 PM  

Oh, my sweet little Spy, your foot reeeaaallly hurts, doesn't it?

On Radio Shack--ditto! Here it is now called 'The Source' but they have the same stalker employees that know (yes, I admit this is IMPOSSIBLE to believe) less than ME! Who want to hawk whatever the guy before you bought, get your email, your phone and the birth date of your first born...

On punctuation; I am so lovin' it! I am personally fond of semicolons, and, I like to toss in, extra, commas, here, and, there. But, when you write that punctuation free book; I will be the first one in line to 'blurb' you! xo

Mark Terry 7/10/2008 08:17:00 PM  

Call me iconoclastic or perhaps quaintly idiosyncratic, but to me, and as a writer, I think colons, semicolons and periods do different things in the reader's head.

It's not so much about grammar rules--talk about anachronistic and old-fashioned--but the effect they have on a reader. Die-hard grammarians just don't get that.

spyscribbler 7/10/2008 08:18:00 PM  

Oh, Lainey, I am feeling so disappointed in myself, and oh-so-not-sweet but I wish I had been. I wish I would've thought to lie to them in the first place, then I wouldn't've had to get angry.

But no, I get worked up about the principle of the matter. You should not HAVE to give your private info. And they could have just put in their OWN info if, as they said, no one would ever see it and no one would call me and no one would mail me.

*sigh*

Instead, I ruin my own night by getting worked up about a principle. Evidently, I'm a private person, LOL. Wouldn't know it from the blog, though!

spyscribbler 7/10/2008 08:20:00 PM  

"but the effect they have on a reader."

Amen to THAT. So goshdarn true. Ohmigosh, that's one of my pet peeves. You want the serial comma and I'll throw readability statistics at you and tell you they slow the reader down.

I just don't care what Purple and Grunt said. I care how the reader experiences it.

eric-mayer 7/10/2008 08:53:00 PM  

I refuse to give out my phone number for stuff like that. However, I am no fan of semicolons. Did you see this Slate piece on them?

http://www.slate.com/id/2194087/

spyscribbler 7/10/2008 11:02:00 PM  

Eric, that's EXACTLY why I got so angry. I refused, even nicely, but they wouldn't give me my money back!!! It was ridiculous!

I didn't see that article, but I just read it. Thank you! I have always written with semi-colons. I'm not sure why. The colon is a completely new toy for me.

Edie 7/10/2008 11:25:00 PM  

I'll avoid Radio Shacks from now on. I like semi-colons. And colons. They're part of our tools.

StarvingWriteNow 7/11/2008 06:31:00 AM  

I love semicolons; they make me happy. And they look cool. I don't use colons as much, but if you really want to know the rules just browse through Strunk & White's Elements of Style. A skinny little book packed with very essential grammar-type stuff.

I'm sorry your foot is hurting. Retail salesfolk can be a pain in the ass. Or foot, in your case. Get better soon!

Bernita 7/11/2008 07:41:00 AM  

Poor foot!
I don't use semi-colons and colons much in fiction; but, sometimes, they are a necessity.

Travis Erwin 7/11/2008 10:39:00 AM  

I posted a love song about punctuation over on my bog as well.

And I hate Radio Shack. I am an electrician who knows the terminology and let me tell you most of those clerks are clueless beyond those terms.

spyscribbler 7/11/2008 10:44:00 AM  

Edie, I sure need all the tools I can get!

spyscribbler 7/11/2008 10:46:00 AM  

Writenow, I used to work retail, so I don't have this new-fangled impression that customers must jump through hoops to be served and how dare we even walk in the store and bother them.

I grew up in the customer is always right world.

spyscribbler 7/11/2008 10:48:00 AM  

Bernita, I really am liking the colon. I'm totally in the first-love stage with it. It says what I want SO much better! I love that explaining sort of link!

Stewart Sternberg 7/11/2008 10:53:00 AM  

You know, in the old days Radio Shack was a cool place to go to buy cheap stuff. I remember buying a do it yourself radio kit there. I remember buying a moccasin kit there. Seriously. When the place upgraded and became a serious electronics store, I think it lost some charm. Sure, you can still buy nuts and bolts and the cool stuff you need to build your own date, but where are the moccasins?

spyscribbler 7/11/2008 10:54:00 AM  

Travis, Radio Shack really sucks. In fact, I googled "Radio Shack sucks" and they have whole websites dedicated to the subject.

I saw that, Travis! I saw it last night, right after I posted this. My browser crashed before I could comment. I listened to the song, though!

spyscribbler 7/11/2008 10:57:00 AM  

Stewart, I REMEMBER that! It used to be the COOLEST store in the mall! In fact, my first computer was a Tandy 64. And you're right, they had the COOLEST do-it-yourself kits for kids.

It's a completely different store, now. I forgot about what it used to be.

Now I'm even more disappointed!

R.J. Keller 7/11/2008 11:23:00 AM  

On Law & Order, they're always saying that So & So Suspect's fake address would put their apartment smack dab in the middle of the Hudson River. Next time that comes up I'm going to pay strict attention and use whatever the fake address is as my Radio Shack Item Return address. Even though I live over 400 miles from NYC.

And I dig semi-colons. I'm trying, right now, to think of a sentence I can use one in; but I can't.

spyscribbler 7/11/2008 11:28:00 AM  

R.J., brilliant idea! Or I could use Ranger's address: a vacant lot! Love that idea.

Robin 7/11/2008 12:15:00 PM  

So sorry about the foot, Spy. Those rotton Radio Shack dimwits. Thanks for not giving in to dimwit pressure. I like your retrospective comeback the best - My name is Ima Dimwit and I live at 100 Asshole Drive. Why are you looking at me like that? That's my name, damn you! Are you mocking my name? Hmmm?

spyscribbler 7/11/2008 12:19:00 PM  

So true, Robin! I've come up with so many things I should've done, since then. :-)

Melanie Avila 7/11/2008 02:13:00 PM  

Spy, I'm sorry your foot hurts. As a clutz who is always injuring herself, my sympathies.

I love, love, love semi-colons (and serial commas, apparently) but I don't use colons much. I sometimes stop myself and wonder if the semi is too pretentious, but I tell myself it's not and carry on.

We don't have Radio Shack here, but a couple months ago I needed an adapter for a serial port to USB. I went into an electronics store and the man told me I couldn't find one anywhere in town (we're a small town) and he wasn't sure if it even existed. I didn't bother checking the Walmart-type store because if the electronics store doesn't have it, why would they?

Instead, I ordered it from the US for $3, plus $30 for shipping. Before it even arrived I saw what I needed at the big box store for $1.50. I want to go SMACK that stupid, arrogant man.

spyscribbler 7/11/2008 03:03:00 PM  

I hope they're not too pretentious! I'll have to think about that one.

Oh, Melanie! How frustrating! $33 for a $1.50 part? Was that for your Alphasmart?

Sheesh, talk about frustrating. How are you liking the AlphaSmart?

Melanie Avila 7/11/2008 06:51:00 PM  

Oh, I didn't tell you? It doesn't work with my computer. There's wireless connection that reads on both ends, but nothing transmits. I emailed the AS customer service and no one got back to me. Yes, I'm extra happy about the expense now.

Btw, I've been using semi-colons ALL DAY because of you. :)

Barrie 7/12/2008 11:19:00 AM  

I love colons and semi-colons...and the m-dash. Swoon.

Sorry about Radio Shack and your foot.

writtenwyrdd 7/12/2008 11:21:00 AM  

Crappy day! :( Foot get better NOW! (Hope that helps!)

I adore punctuation. It IS an art form, and it adds nuance. it can be extremely subtle, and too many people gloss over the value of proper punctuation or subtle punctuation. Vary up your freaking prose or you will bore me! That means use punctuation that is varied as well! People who know what language can do will appreciate your loving (and varied) use of punctuation.

writtenwyrdd 7/12/2008 11:23:00 AM  

I am reminded: Tandy used to be Radio Shack, and the DID have moccasin and other leather kits there! I forgot that factoid. I do know that my dad bought a color tv kit in the mid 60s and he and my mother built it. We had the first color tv on the block, lol.