6.06.2007

ERRoneous ERRands


Etymology anyone??? Etymology is the study of word origins, and my brief errand-running escapade in our small town tonight actually drove me to some etymology of my own this evening. Believe it or not, History of the English Language was my very favorite class in college. I loved my prof (Dr. Bartholomew) and learning about the origin of our language. Not to mention that many things I learned in that class have been very helpful over the years! (Can you say "Balderdash"?)

First, a little background for you: This weekend, some very dear friends, who serve as missionaries in Brazil, are coming for a visit. I have been busy laundering shower curtains, wiping fingerprints off of appliances, washing canisters, organizing the pantry, etc. You know, all those important things that guests really notice. (You think I'm kidding??) Anyway, like all good hostesses, I am also carefully planning five days' worth of yummy meals. So tonight, armed with a detailed list and my coupon organizer, I ventured out into "town". And I decided since I was out sans children, I would take care of a few other errands at the same time.

Stop #1: Brand new local UPS Store to mail a baby gift. I should have sensed trouble when the wide-eyed "customer service associate" (hereafter referred to as CSA) was standing in the store window, watching me walk across the parking lot. I would be willing to bet that store hadn't seen a customer all day. I was dead meat. Mr. CSA met me at the door, quickly asking how he could help me, while Miss CSA asked me to place the gift on the scale and fill out a form with more blanks than an IRS tax form. I quickly complied as Mr. CSA surveyed their vast assortment of cardboard and carefully chose the perfect box. What ensued may have been comical, except that I was in a hurry. I kid you not, Mr. CSA put my gift in that box fourteen times. He put it in, took it out, put it in, took it out, wrapped it in plastic, put it back in, took it out again, lined the box with bubble wrap, put it back in, got more bubble wrap to drape over the top of the gift, stood back and satisfactorily exclaimed "Now, I'm happy with that." and finally, for the love of all that is holy, sealed the box. And sealed it, and sealed it, and sealed it............

While Mr. CSA is busy "embalming" my gift, Miss CSA is busy screwing up the mailing label. She insisted that the address and zip code I gave her did not match; the computer kept suggesting a different zip code. I calmly explained that I was mailing this to an address that I mailed things to several times a week and I had never had any problems with the zip code. She figured out how to override the "required" zip code (after a small conference with Mr. CSA), and we were back in business. She handed me the printed labels and asked me to verify all the addresses and sign the bottom. Immediately, I spotted the cause of our zip code issue. She had typed in the street address incorrectly. (I guess it hadn't occurred to her to check that earlier.) No problem; it would only take her the better part of an hour to void out the old label and start over. I tried not to sigh too loudly and smiled rather disingenuously. After what seemed like another half hour, Miss CSA handed me the new label for my approval. Believe it or not, the suite number on the address was still wrong, but I decided to take my chances and signed the label anyway. (I didn't have another half hour.) Then she told me the total; I nearly fainted, paid the bill and left. As I was walking out the door, Mr. CSA happily said "Enjoy the beautiful evening." I kept walking.

Stop #2: Local Grocery Store. I was armed and ready. Unfortunately, someone forgot to inform the grocery store that I was coming, which meant that they were out of lots of things I needed/wanted, necessitating another trip on an already-busy tomorrow. I ask you, how in the world can you have Edy's ice cream buy one/get one free and NOT have "Fudge Tracks"? Isn't there an unwritten law about that? And didn't they know I needed Mug root beer and caffeine free Coke?? The fun really started when I was about four aisles in and the power went off. (Do you know that grown women scream when the power goes off in a public place like that??) Thankfully, it came back on quickly, but of course, all the registers were "off line" so there were some very unhappy people waiting in line while they got all that taken care of, not to mention more than a few abandoned grocery and produce items left on miscellaneous candy displays at the end of the register lanes.

And, true to form, the cashiers and baggers at this grocery store have it in for me too. I even helped them out by putting all of my cold/frozen items together so they might, just might, get the hint and actually bag them together. But, alas, they aren't that smart. A frantic last-minute dive on my part saved the hot dog and hamburger buns from certain "smushing", and I nearly had scrambled eggs in my grocery cart, except that Miss Bagger figured out that putting the gallon of milk on top of the eggs probably wasn't a good idea. Now, I've never been a grocery store clerk, but to me, it doesn't take a whole lotta smarts to realize that you don't put a bag of marshmallows underneath four pounds of strawberries. But I digress......

Stop #3: Quiznos for a much-deserved salad. (They are YUMMY if you've never had one.) Mr. Quiznos had not one, not two, but three silver balls in his lower lip and one in his eyebrow. His hair, which was also serving as a visor, was a very unnatural shade of black, and he had a few lovely tattoos on his arms. I'm ashamed to say that my first thought was "Great. Here we go again." But Mr. Quizno put me in my place. He was more than friendly. He gave me extra hard boiled eggs on my salad and offered me double the dressing (who turns that down?) He was whistling while he made my salad and he seemed like he, oh I don't know, actually KNEW what he was doing! Which is apparently a novelty in our town these days.

Now, are you wondering what the heck "etymology" has to do with this? As I was driving home, I began to wonder if the words "errand" and "error" came from the same root word. Surely, I reasoned, there had to be a connection since every time I run errands, errors abound. After a quick search of the Online Etymology Dictionary, I found out that there's absolutely no connection whatsoever. The roots are entirely different; they are from different languages even. However, I would vehemently contend that merely running "errands in this town is an "error in judgment" and one should always "err on the side of caution" and stay home or one might find one's self behaving in an "errant" and "erratic" way.

2 comments:

Beckyb said...

You make me laugh!! Sounds like my day - hey, at least I'm still able to laugh!!!

Mom said...

Liked your ending sentence. I will not play Balderdash with you. Never go to a mailing place. They charged Adam $40. to overnight me a garage door opener. If it weighed 4 ozs. it was a lot. Sometimes the good old PO can be a bargain.