• Becca

The Christmas Saga

Our story begins shortly before Thanksgiving when my youngest son got a hold of my phone and ordered several hundred dollars worth of groceries via application. I didn’t know until the order processed and the money left our back account sending it into over draft. Hubs and I did our best to work overtime and make up the difference, but then the Covid surge happened. It flew around both of our workplaces like wildfire until, not surprising, I began to feel sick and start displaying symptoms.

My employer was very strict about following the CDC guidelines so I was required to be off for two weeks in recommended isolation. I took a test, but the results were negative. I called my doctor who explained without severe symptoms it was more likely that the test would be inaccurate so she recommended I quarantine and just assume I had it. Just as my symptoms began to clear up and I neared the end of my allotted quarantine, Hubs ended up in the ER with more severe symptoms. Not only had he been exposed to me, many of his coworkers had also recently tested positive. Hubs’ employer is NOT following any of the CDC guidelines so he was only required to take time off after he was admitted to the ER and while he was waiting for his test results. My employer, following the guidelines, required me to once again take two weeks of quarantine time all while we’re trying to play catch up with the bank and get Santa together for the kids.

While Hubs was home, he had time to call our investment firm and cash in another small investment. It was more than enough to cover our expenses for December plus Santa stuff and leave a cushion for any more SURPRISE grocery orders courtesy of my youngest.

Those crises out of the way, we relaxed a bit. I ordered all the Christmas gifts, most of which arrived on time until about December 10th. Then it was like everything coming in and going out of the Indianapolis USPS Distribution Annex hit an invisible wall. Nothing was tracking, nothing was moving and no one was available to answer inquiries. While it was disappointing and slightly annoying I understand the stress and increased volume thrust upon the USPS over Holiday 2020. I wasn’t really worried about getting most of the packages before Christmas Day except for one.

My middle son has a plush alligator which has been his most important security snuggly toy since he was six months old. Gigi, as he calls the gator, has been through many a washing machine and seam repair over the years. He is thread bare, and to the point where none of the stitching no matter how robust is holding up. My son’s one wish was to receive a new Gigi from Santa. Under normal circumstances this would merely be an issue of finding another of the same plush, except Gigi was discontinued in 2018. There are many available on eBay and other resale websites, (thank goodness) so I found one for a decent price and placed the order on December 4th thinking that even with any shipping delays it should arrive on time, right? WRONG.

When New Gigi still hadn’t made any progress tracking by the 19th I began to get nervous. I reached out to many local Facebook neighborhood sites and even joined a FB group dedicated to finding rare plush items across the US in a desperate attempt to find a New Gigi for my sweetest boy who still very much believes in Santa with his entire heart. When none of my efforts on Facebook proved successful, I went to eBay and contacted several sellers directly to inquire if they would be able to ship outside of the Post Office if I was willing to pay the difference via FedEx or UPS. One of the sellers replied and expressed that he would be willing to ship via UPS but couldn’t guarantee that the package would arrive on time. I thanked him for trying and patiently waited for Christmas Gigi to ship. Miracle of all miracles UPS came through. They promised delivery by 4:15 on December 23rd and Gigi arrived at our door step at 4:14. UPS for the win!

Two minor crises averted and overcome. Then… our refrigerator died. Hubs has work history in HVAC and refrigeration so he was able to rig it to keep things mostly cold, but we really needed another one ASAP. We had no idea where we would get one especially so close to Christmas and with limited funds. SURPRISE! Two days later a friend on Facebook listed hers for sale. It is an amazing practically new refrigerator and we snagged it for less than $1000. It took some creative maneuvering to get it from their house to ours, but eventually we got it installed and fired up. This thing is a beast. I love it.

In the middle of the hectic fridge delivery, a Kirby sales team rolled up in our neighborhood. Hubs was busy standing in the driveway unloading the new fridge from our truck when the sales person walked up and asked if she could come in and give a quick demonstration. Hubs, not paying attention, said sure and away we went for the rest of the afternoon entertaining a Kirby sales team. Kirby… I love their product. The vacuums are the best quality with the most durability that I’ve used on the market. The only draw back to getting a new Kirby is the sales pitch. The demonstrations take an average of two-three hours depending on how well the sales person can do the pitch. There are gimmicks galore and hyping up the vacuum as is to be expected. This wasn’t my first time at the Kirby rodeo so I knew going into it what to expect. The sales person was very good at her presentation and the offer they made me was an affordable price so I took the plunge, filled out the paperwork and away I went down the rabbit hole of Kirby ownership.

Things were going really well that Sunday. New fridge, new vacuum that my genius puzzle master child can’t easily disassemble, Christmas was on the horizon; everything was looking up as the year drew to a close. Then, Monday morning, everything changed. I woke up to a text from Hubs informing me that our 19 year old niece had been rushed to the ER after her appendix ruptured SEVERAL DAYS PREVIOUSLY. This was her third hospital. There was talk of gangrene riddled throughout her torso, she was stuck at the hospital by herself due to the Covid restrictions, and our hospital gets terrible cell phone reception so she couldn’t really communicate with anyone outside of a few phone calls from the room phone when she was feeling up to it. While there was no gangrene discovered after the immediate concerns with swelling and antibiotics were addressed (thank God) whether or not she needed/could even GET surgery with the local Covid numbers and her physical condition remained up in the air for most of the week.

Making things worse, no one could visit or even check on her and she obviously did not feel well enough to relay more information than necessary to all of her concerned family and friends. The hospital was able to get her infection under control enough with antibiotics and a wound drain that any sort of extensive surgery was avoided and she was able to come home on Christmas Eve. We discovered that the length of her stay in the hospital was mostly due to the shortage of available staff with the overflowing Covid wing. So, while she is stable and comfortable at home for now, she has a very long road to recovery ahead of her. It made Christmas very bittersweet this year.

In the middle of the medical crisis with my niece, I got a phone call. It was Kirby! Apparently there was an issue with my paperwork and the sales team needed to come by and fix it. So we told them to come on by. Here’s the thing about Kirby… in addition to their sales people having one of the longest product demonstrations in the business, they also have entirely independent contractors doing these sales presentations. The sales force is only loosely associated with the actual Kirby brand and while the quality of the product is high and worth the cost, the quality of the sales teams is often lacking in terms of ethical business practices. I was already aware of this, and prepared for some sort of difficulty in the purchasing process. What I did not expect was for this finance company to refuse financing based on my part-time employment status.

That’s right! I financed the vacuum in order to build my credit for a few months. I *can* afford it outright, but I need to fix my credit after several unwise financial missteps. The payments and terms were easy enough to adhere to, I thought it would be a quick solution. I’ll pause a moment to allow those in my audience with Kirby sales experience to stop laughing… ANYWAY… so this finance company swore up and down that I couldn’t finance the vacuum on part-time employment. I made sure to get them on my security camera footage clearly explaining this to me and then I explained to THEM that according to the Federal Trade Commission they couldn’t deny me credit based on my hours of employment! Boy, they were not ready for that one. It took about two hours of arguing on the phone with several different representatives of the finance company until the branch manager finally got so fed up with me that he told me he refused to finance me on any terms and hung up.

I felt bad for the sales team, because they had no idea. They literally did not know until I told them that it was illegal to deny someone based on their employment hours as long as they held a job. So I’m arguing with the finance guy and they’re sitting in my kitchen scared to death that they’re going to go to jail when this is all said and done. My niece is in the hospital, Christmas celebrations are in limbo, we’re in the middle of a goddamn pandemic and I have teetered toward the edge of my rope here.

Eventually we all got it sorted out. The sales team was able to run my application through another LEGITIMATE finance company and then they were on their way. I told them I knew it had nothing to do with them, personally, or even professionally since it was the contractor they worked for who failed to provide them with the proper training. Then I filed a complaint against the “finance” company with the FTC. All’s well that ends well, right?

Maybe… we still have a lot of horses in the ring right now. I am exhausted. This holiday season has been a complete shit show. It has been one good thing followed by a disaster for almost a solid month straight. I can’t take this back and forth much longer. Like let me be happy, or let me grieve! This insanity is too much!!

And things have been good too. I went through two rounds of interviews for a new job and hear back from them on Jan 4th. It’s a wonderful company who deals with medical facility management and contracts crisis response teams with FEMA. If I get the job I will be starting at the bottom as a remote customer service coordinator. Basically I’ll be answering phones, entering service tickets, and doing technical troubleshooting from the comfort and safety of my own home. Because it’s remote I will have the ability to work more hours than I’ve been able to put in at the restaurant since I won’t have to juggle childcare. The pay is great, the job is easy enough, and I have opportunities to advance within the company after I finish school. So that has been a wonderful bright spot in the midst of all the doom and gloom. My interviews went well, so hopefully I’ll get it. Even if I don’t, I still have the restaurant to fall back on.

I’m not looking for another job because I’m unhappy at the restaurant. I actually just happened upon an advertisement for this job on one of my friends’ Facebook profiles. She works there currently and knew they were hiring. She shared the position and I thought: “Meh, what the hell?” and put in an application. lol. It’s a great opportunity to branch out from food service and utilize the skills I am developing in school, but if it doesn’t work out there will be other opportunities down the road.

Speaking of school, that’s the other bright spot that’s kept me from completely losing my mind this month. I made the Dean’s List again this term! I almost made straight 100’s but I missed one exam question in my business class and dropped my grade to a 98.5. SO CLOSE. Really, it’s a miracle I was able to keep up with my assignments whilst battling Covid, keeping up with the kids and their school work, and juggle everything else going on in the past few weeks. I honestly can’t tell you how I managed to do it other than I took it one week and one assignment at a time. Everything right now is going one step, one day, even one hour at a time.

I’m invested now and too damn stubborn to give up. lol. Here’s to a better New Year, everyone. I think we all need it.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

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