Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"Service" Spelled with an F U

Let's rant, shall we? The topic: customer service. Or the lack thereof. In 24-hours I moved from bemused to pissed off thanks to two separate service fiascos.

Incident #1: The Acme Cashier

I was already irritated by the elderly. I say that with utmost respect for those who consider themselves to be in that category, though I'm relatively certain no one I would classify as elderly is reading my blog (mom and dad, you're old, but not elderly - insert winky, smiley face here). Anyway, I was irritated because slow, confused women with clown makeup and crazy hair were wandering around the aisles at Acme at 5 p.m., making it difficult for us young and busy professionals to do what we came to do. Why do they need to go to the grocery store between 4-6 p.m.? Shouldn't they be eating an early bird meal at their favorite diner?

This is not related to my service complaint, however, as I write, I believe I may have stumbled onto a brilliant service concept. Much like the "adult swim" at the pool, perhaps there should be separate hours for shopping based on age group. Those 25-54 can shop between 7-9 a.m and 4-6 p.m.; those 75-plus and moms with infants are given a big chunk of time between 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; and teens can come by after school, 2:30-4:00 p.m. and at stupidly late hours when they're in need of cheese curls. There should probably be a similar schedule at the health club.

But I digress.

My main Acme complaint was with Louis, my couldn't-be-happier-to-have-this-job cashier. I don't know if I set him off by letting him know I didn't mind bagging my own groceries--perhaps he took it as a personal affront, like I didn't think he'd do it right--but the dude literally threw my groceries. Not at me, thank goodness, but onto the grocery collection area. This was fairly amusing until he came to my bananas and apples, and then the bread. Apparently no one told him that fruit bruises when tossed, and that bread can be bent out of shape, much like his increasingly grumpy customer.

Incident #2: The Jiffy Lube Guys

In my never-ending quest to save money, I drove out of my way to Jiffy Lube for an oil change and state inspection. I had a coupon (turns out I had a coupon for Midas, which made this incident even more irritating).

When I went to pick up my vehicle, the guys at the counter decided to mess with me. "That's $249.00." Seriously? "Nah, just messing with you. It's actually $____." (I'm not going to tell you how much I paid because I don't need my dad or anyone else tell me I was ripped off.) Of course, now I'm wondering if what I paid was the real price because nowhere in the place were the service prices listed. Still, I smiled gamely at his delightful sense of humor. Then I got into my soccer mom minivan and prepared to drive off. Until I noticed the pond.

A nearly full travel mug of tea that I had left in my cup holder had spilled in that handy little tray/console area between the front seats. Crumbs, bits of paper, and my parking pass were floating in a half-inch of liquid; the empty cup holders also were filled. And I was pissed. I returned to the shop and asked for towels to clean the mess. Did I let them know it was their spill and that I was displeased? No. They were bigger than me, had already intimidated me at the register, and I'm not good with confrontation. I sopped up what I could and drove away.

About a half-mile down the road I stopped at Philly Pretzel Factory to address my constant carb craving, but before I could even get out of the car, I had to write. An angry Yelp review was burning a hole inside of me. I had to let it out. I deal with my problems much better in writing:
"Just had my car inspected and oil changed at this Jiffy Lube location. I'm uncomfortable with what I paid because there were no posted prices for their services, which is what I find at Midas where I normally go. I went to Jiffy Lube because I had a coupon. Probably a big mistake. Most disappointing, when I got into my car I saw that an entire travel mug of tea that I had left in a cup holder had spilled in my center console and nobody bothered to clean it up before giving me my car back. Something so simple that would've made such a big difference in how I feel about my service. Because their service requires them to vacuum the floors, they did that, but since it didn't say anywhere that they should clean up when they spill something in a customer's car, they just left it. Classic lazy customer service. I won't be back."
After letting out my frustration and picking up my pretzel--which was cold and kinda hard and itself worthy of complaint--I headed home. And then it occurred to me. The son-of-a-bitch hadn't returned my insurance card and registration. And freakin' Jiffy Lube is on Baltimore Pike, the busiest damn retail road in Delaware County. And I hate running "errands" more than going to the dentist. And it was almost 5 p.m. and traffic was already brutal. I contemplated asking them to mail me my stuff, but wondered what the odds were that it would ever reach me.

I called and the assistant manager answered the phone--not the same guy who totally made up the price of my oil change and inspection. I told him they forgot my paperwork. He informed me it was on my passenger seat. Ah yes. Indeed. I figured this was an opportunity to share my thoughts about spilled tea. He apologized, wasn't aware of it, will tell the big scary guy who worked on my vehicle. Awesome. Originally I had posted my Yelp review with my photo; I took that down. I don't want him to find me. There are risks associated with speaking ones mind.

These delightful experiences are ripe for political commentary, which as a rule I stay away from because I'm generally in enemy territory with my views. But I do find myself thinking about personal responsibility and its role in the lives we live. If you hate working as a grocery store cashier, what could you do about it instead of taking it out on your customers, and ultimately, your employer? And I wonder about the debate over minimum wage. If the cashier and the Jiffy Lube guys were paid more, would they care more? Or would they be paid more to deliver the same shitty service? Tough subjects, indeed. Perhaps Ian, as an economist in training, but with a servant's heart, will one day help solve these problems plaguing our increasingly polarized country.

Wow. This post took a turn, didn't it? Sorry to end on such a heavy note. To make it up to you, here's a picture of a kitten. Make it a good day!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

But, they're only suggestions

It's crunch time. In a mere five days, applications will be due for two of the three colleges my son Ian is applying to: University of Chicago (early action) and Villanova (for consideration for the Honors College). If it were up to me these applications would have been submitted a month ago, but Ian is not me. And I've been trying hard to keep that in mind, not only where college admissions are concerned, but also with regard to his collegiate life.

One of the things I have struggled with during his high school years is allowing my son to be himself. Personality-wise, he's good to go (except for his excessive computer time and tendency to procrastinate), but I confess that I have been disappointed more than once in the decisions he's made. Not with regard to classes, behavior, friends or that special someone (a shout out to B.Q.), but rather his choice of extracurriculars. That's not quite accurate. It's not the activities he's been involved with that bother me, it's the ones he hasn't taken part in that bum me out.

Ian should have appeared in every play and musical for the past three years. He should have competed in the oral interpretation category in speech and debate--I personally found him the perfect material. He could have pursued fencing or martial arts, both of which he showed promise in when he was younger. And I'm sure there are a myriad of other activities that I would have wanted him to take part in if I'd known about them.

You may think this is about me. That I want to relive my youth through my son. Well, not's entirely true. He did show great potential in these activities, particularly where acting and speech competitions were concerned. It's not like I pushed, prodded, nagged at encouraged him to take on the school newspaper or yearbook. I didn't recommend more than once or twice robotics or other appropriately geeky science-related clubs that I knew he wasn't interested in, despite being eminently qualified for. Honestly, I had the best intentions. And, if Ian loves his mother, he might just prove it by auditioning for the musical this year. One last opportunity for him to make the right decision.

Until college, when I'm he's given a fresh start.

I have recently experienced Ian sightings at Villanova. I'll be walking across campus and envision bumping into him. Or seeing him in the cafeteria. That's not so bad. I probably won't embarrass him much if/when that happens. What's more problematic is that I've started to take note of opportunities that I don't want him to miss if he comes here. I hear one of the many acapella groups perform and think, "He's got to try out; he'd be great!" I learn of a student-run homeless shelter in the city, and I can't wait for him to get involved. I know of a certain professor who is conducting research on a topic that will interest Ian and I tell the professor that my son would love to work with him/her. The Global Leadership Fellows Program? Where do I sign him does he sign up? My The excitement is palpable!

I'm in trouble here.

And this post may have just squashed the possibility of Ian attending Villanova.

I have his best interests at heart. But he knows his interests and he's becoming an adult and he will need to make all of these decisions for himself.

Perhaps if I just refer to them as suggestions?

P.S. Did I mention there's Irish dance? And an ethics bowl team?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Gotta Get Myself Connected

When my kids were in middle school, their day ended with a period called "Connections," which was the equivalent of "home room" in my day. Today, though my children are no longer at the middle school, I find myself thinking about that word choice, and I think I really like it.

The idea of connections has been on my mind of late. Though if I reflect on the posts I've written through the years, I suppose connections are a running theme for me. It's basically the purpose of my writing. While blogging may be perceived as a cry for attention, in my case, the need for attention is really the equivalent of a desire for connections. And if we zoom out for a wider view, I think we can agree that my posts generally are about the real issues, feelings and life experiences that connect us.

Whether we put it into words or not, most of us crave connections. It's what makes us human. Nearly every day I think to myself, "Today is the day I'm going to say hello to every individual I encounter." Why is that always on my mind? For one thing, I think it'd make for a fascinating blog post, but more importantly, I think I could make a small difference in someone's day. Not because there's anything special about me, but because we all want to be recognized. And honestly, there is something surprisingly lovely about someone offering a simple greeting, an acknowledgement of our existence.

One of the nicest encounters I've had recently occurred while I was walking on campus. I passed by an older gentlemen and he greeted me with "Good morning, Miss." Now, it could be because he called me "miss" instead of "ma'am," but I'm pretty sure just the "good morning" and a smile would have had roughly the same effect. Even though that encounter was weeks ago, it's stuck with me. That's how powerful a greeting can be.

So why haven't I followed through on my desire to greet everyone I see? It's hard. Way harder than it should be. People don't make eye contact anymore. If their heads aren't down, looking at their phones, they're likely to look away if you look at them directly. Friendliness, sadly, has become uncomfortable instead of commonplace. A couple years ago, Villanova, which boasts its friendliness and sense of community, tried to institute "tech-free Tuesdays" in an effort to get us to stop looking at our devices when walking across campus, and instead look at one another and say hello. It failed miserably.

I honestly worry that within a short number of years all we will see when we walk down the street is the top of people's heads. No one will look up anymore. We'll all need chiropractors to work on our aching necks. And sales of hair growing tonic will dramatically increase as men worry more about balding.

Given the challenge of exchanging basic niceties with strangers on the street, I thought I might have more success trying to connect with those whom I interact with on some level. The gym is the perfect example. If we're in a class together, we should be bonded by a shared misery experience. We should connect over a good groan when the instructor calls for burpies or mountain climbers.  If we're walking out of the building afterward and it's refreshingly chilly, you should acknowledge my witty comment about it. Unfortunately, for most people it doesn't even register that you're speaking to them.

I leave you with this quote from Dr. Brene Brown, a young American researcher who studies vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame:
"Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness."
So put yourself out there and connect to another member of our human family. I can almost guarantee the good feelings will be worth it!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Suck it Up

I was all set to write a post in which I declared my shortcomings and threw in the towel where this acting thing is concerned. After all, I am two classes in to the semester and the professor has not yet declared me the best student he's ever had. Nor has he asked me where I've been all his life or why I am not on Broadway. This lack of positive feedback combined with the fact that "all the other kids know each other and I feel left out" leads naturally to my decision to move on. Yep. I'm a quitter. Not my best personality trait, I know.

On Saturday, Rob and I were at the beach, just the two of us. And I decided to open up and share my thoughts and feelings. As if that's a rare thing for me. So I said something along the lines of "Do you ever get bummed out thinking that you're never going to do anything amazing with your life?" Like write a book, or make an impressive career move, or be a star on the stage? Being the rational man that he is, he suggested 1) that raising two pretty awesome kids can be considered having done something amazing, and 2) what's the point of thinking about what you haven't done with your life when all along it's been your choice. And he's right, of course.

This conversation led to another in which I told him I'd read in an advice column a letter from a young mother of an 8-month child. She wrote that both she and her husband were unhappy with parenthood. Not just sleep-deprived or anxious about it, but downright miserable. She noted that this was obviously not something she could share with anyone else. Most folks don't think kindly of those who would like to undo the whole baby thing. My heart broke for her because I could have written that letter 16 years ago. Or 10 years ago. Alright. Probably five years ago. The point is, I could relate, especially to feeling alone. Wondering if you've made a huge mistake entering into motherhood is not something most women are comfortable confessing, even women like me who open up our lives like a book for others to read.

Rob's response to this went something along the lines of "And a woman definitely can't tell her mother how she feels in this situation, especially if her mother was of my mom's generation." Rob's mom--who turns 85 in December--would have told her daughters (and probably me, if I'd confessed), "Too late for that now. You have a child to raise. Get to it." My reaction to my husband's comment on behalf of his mother? Ouch. Harsh. But Rob continued the conversation by asking if that kick in the pants isn't what we do need to hear when we find ourselves in difficult situations.

In today's "you're okay, I'm okay" society, we're encouraged to share our every thought and feeling and to accept them for what they are. To reflect, meditate, indulge, and caress our emotions. We whiners will not be denied that opportunity. How dare we be told to suck it up and take responsibility for fixing what's wrong instead of wallowing in it!

I am conflicted in my reaction to my husband's comments. They certainly hit a bit too close to home, given that I'm a living, breathing example of one of those people who mulls over every emotion as if it's the key I need to unlock the rest of my life. I can see where that's not always the best decision. Perhaps I'd be better off just living instead of analyzing. But then again, what would I possibly blog about?

I'd love your thoughts on this. Should we stop coddling and instead call one other out when it comes to that which we allow to stymie us? Is it okay to extend sympathy/empathy only so far as to say "I get that you're bummed/unhappy/miserable, but this is life, so start living?" Or is the world cruel enough that we owe it to each other to be kinder and gentler, as George H. W. Bush suggested back in 1988? Maybe this whole trend toward emotional overindulgence is his fault. Well, it would be one more thing we could blame on the Republicans. But I digress. Tell me what you think.

Monday, August 31, 2015

I've Got Class

You know those anxiety dreams you used to have/still have about school? The one where you forgot to go to class all semester and now there's a final exam? Or you wore a ridiculous outfit or forgot to wear clothes at all? Or you showed up and it was the wrong night or the wrong time or the wrong place? Well, last week I lived out one of my anxiety dreams in the very first class of the graduate certificate in practical theater program that I started this semester. (You may recall that I'm going to be a famous actress as soon as my kids move out of the house.)

Here's how my dreams/nightmares became reality:

I showed up for my Principles of  Acting class about 15 minutes early on Thursday evening. I was anxious and I didn't want to be late. When I got to the room there was a sign on the door that said "Do Not Disturb. Studio in Use," but I chalked it up to my early arrival and I waited. And waited. At 7:30, the door still hadn't opened and no one else had showed up. Obviously not a good sign. Given my increased tendency to remember things incorrectly, I double checked my calendar. I had the class start time correct. My calendar didn't indicate a location, but I was certain it was Vasey Studio. Well, I was certainly wrong. My acting class was in another building. The one furthest from where I was currently, and I wasn't wearing running shoes. So I took off my sandals and started sprinting barefoot across campus. I can just imagine how many heads I turned. And not in a good way.

I arrived at my class 20 minutes late, dripping with sweat. I explained to the professor and my classmates that I was going for "a dramatic entrance" and then took my seat in the circle on the floor. I had missed everyone's personal introductions and the syllabus review, and was put on the spot with a request to tell the group something interesting about myself. I played the 2nd degree black belt card so all the other students would think I'm a badass. A sweaty, late, middle aged badass.

From there, things got interesting. The class started with movement. Lots of movement. On the floor. Yoga positions, which I must say I nailed as compared to my considerably more youthful classmates. Of course, being an acting class, we couldn't merely stretch into the locust position. We had to breathe at the same time. Audibly. With feeling. Being born without the capacity for embarrassment, I let it all out. Including my underwear. Bad choice of granny panties with pants that sat too low on my hips to cover them, particularly when rocking back and forth on my stomach while holding my feet in my hands. By the time we finished on the floor, I was so sweaty that I looked like I'd peed myself. And they say you only get one chance to make a first impression.

After we returned to vertical positions and circled up, we began throwing knives at one another. No surprise there. And if we didn't catch the imaginary knife being thrown at us, we had to die a dramatic death. I died relatively early in the process. So I spent more time on the floor. I'm not sure what actors have against chairs.

The good news is that the highlight of the evening was still to come.

We spent the final hour (seriously, a full hour) of class staring at each other. But at least we got to sit for it. We each took turns on a chair in the front of the room where our assignment was to look at each person for longer than is comfortable. Frankly, I enjoyed it. We were given permission to gawk and I gave myself permission to also judge everyone I looked at. I made up little stories about them in my head. It was good fun. The sitting while others stared wasn't quite as enjoyable. Way too much down time for someone who constantly needs to be doing something (or sleeping). I didn't mind being stared, though I did have trouble not breaking into a smile, winking, licking my lips, or tossing out a Joey Tribbiani "How you doin?" just to break up the monotony.

Next week's class will begin with one word to describe how we feel, followed by more floor moves, a physical destination exercise and a read through of the monologue we've selected for our semester performance. I'm psyched. Seriously.

Though I'm the only one in class who didn't major in theater or performance as an undergraduate, and am probably the only one who hasn't auditioned or performed in anything for 25 years, I'm surprisingly comfortable. I rather enjoy the age difference (especially given my impressive level of flexibility), I don't have to think twice about letting my freak flag fly, and honestly, the other students are super friendly. I think this is gonna be good. And if it's not, I'll at least get some great blog material out of the experience!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Reflecting on the "F" Word

It's been a particularly emotional couple of weeks for me and that's saying something given that I'm always emotional. I think it's fair to say the "F" word was the source of my emotion overload. Yes, family has a way of affecting us like nothing else can. It can bring out the best in us and the worst. It can be a source of great joy and utter misery. We may relish the laughter of shared memories, and at the same time struggle with the disappointment of unmet expectations. We can take comfort in the power of forgiveness, or live with the bitterness of unresolved issues. Family is a big bundle of crazy that we can't imagine (though sometimes we wish we were) living without.

My family has tapped into my every emotion in the past two weeks. It started with Rob and Ian traveling to Mexico City on a week long church mission trip. I was concerned for their safety, proud of their willingness to serve, and a bit envious that the two of them were spending that special time together. I also was lonely. With communications limited to three brief text messages, for the first time in my marriage I acutely felt Rob's absence.
I discovered I missed my husband. While it sounds terrible, I confess that I'm not someone who pines for my spouse when we're apart. With phone calls and email and Facebook updates, it's hard to feel truly separated. But when Rob wasn't here and I couldn't call him and didn't know how he and Ian were, and there was no opportunity to share and take comfort in the mere the presence of the person with whom I share my life, my heart hurt. I was reminded of how much I love him and how blessed I am. Missing him was good for me.

Two days after Ian and Rob returned home, I left for three days, thereby maintaining the warm fuzzies that came from missing them. I headed to the mecca of Waretown, NJ along Barnegat Bay for a getaway with my parents and sister, brother-in-law and nephew who were home from Colorado for their semiannual visit. Time with my sister Dawn was spent laughing at painful memories of falling off my bike, competing in plank challenges (which I won both times), swatting green head flies on the boat while crabbing, and playing numerous games of Bananagrams (of which I am the champion). Unfortunately, on the first night of our visit, my mom learned that her sister Janet had died, nearly two years to the day that her sister Glenna passed away. My mom was one of five girls in her family. There are only two of them left, and this causes my mom considerable grief and pain.

When Irving Berlin wrote "Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters" he clearly had my mom and my aunts in mind. There existed a bond between those women that I've never seen before and likely never will experience personally. Interestingly, the closeness they shared is is in sharp contrast to the relationships my aunts often had with others, whether it be their husbands or their own children. In fact, in my Aunt Janet's obituary, there was no mention of her oldest son. They stopped talking decades ago, evidence of how easily relationships can be destroyed by an unwillingness to forgive and forget.

Last summer's photo.
We forgot to take one this year.
Irving Berlin did not write a song about my sister and me. While there is no bitterness or underlying root cause for the distance between us (literally and figuratively), I must confess to a level of disappointment with the way things are versus the way I'd like them to be. I would like Dawn to move home (or within reasonable driving distance). I would like Dawn to at least want to move home. I would like her to be sad when it's time to say goodbye. I would like it if we would start telling each other "I love you." While I don't expect to achieve the level of closeness my mom had with her sisters, I know Dawn and I could have more, but I don't know how to get us there.

Dawn's visit home coincided with my church's annual mission trip to western North Carolina. A truly family affair, this trip brings together all ages for a week of work and fellowship that has to be experienced because no description can do it justice. Obviously I did not go on the trip this year because I wanted to spend time with my sister. Abby, however, more than adequately represented the MacShimer family.
Abby on the roofing site with her MPC family.
Since she returned home on Saturday evening, I've lost count of the number of times Abby wished she were back in Banner Elk. For the first time in her life, Abby, who thinks a 30 minute car ride is torture, was sad to see a nine-hour car ride end (she had traveled with friends). Despite the fact that she was leaving for Avalon on Sunday to spend time with three girls from school, Abby actually seemed weepy when she repeated for the umpteenth time that she "didn't want to be home," but wished she could return to NC (which makes me sad, though I'm trying not to take it personally).

Car ride buddies (plus the Hicks girls)
The Sunday church service following Banner Elk is always wonderful. Those who went on the trip wear their matching t-shirts. We watch a slide show of photos from the week. The praise band (which for the first time included Abby on guitar!) plays the same music, and a few individuals on the trip share their experience in place of a traditional sermon. Naturally, I cried during several parts of the service, partly because I was disappointed to have missed being there, and partly because I was overwhelmed with love for my church family. While the church, like our flesh and blood family, has its own issues, the grace and forgiveness that we extend to one another provides a foundation for the strongest relationships I've ever known. And I don't know if it's a "Christian thing" or if we're just lucky, but my MPC brothers and sisters so openly share their love. There's no awkwardness in a hug. There's no discomfort in saying "I love you." What a gift!

As I reflect on the experiences of the past two weeks, I realize how blessed I am to have more than one family who loves me. If you've been separated from a loved one, I pray for reconciliation and healing. The bonds of family should not be so easily broken.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Your Mama Can't Dance

For two whole weeks in June I went to the gym fairly regularly. If I had actually worked out while I was there, I'd probably see results. But seriously, one week I actually went three times and could have gone a fourth, but I didn't want to start any crazy precedents. The point is, I was trying. But then I took Zumba.

At 5:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays my gym offers a TRX class. I'm a big fan of this workout. It's tough, but not extreme. I'm sweaty when I'm done, but I don't actually pass out, so that's a good thing. The only problem with TRX is that the class fills up too fast, given that there's only room for 10. So this particular Tuesday I arrived at 5 p.m. feeling super confident about securing my place, but would you believe 5 was too late? All the spots were taken. My natural inclination was to call it fate and head home, but the woman at the front desk suggested Zumba. I told her I'm not good at Zumba. She said it was a beginner's class. I figured what the hell.

What the hell, indeed.

There's something about Zumba that makes it right for blog post abuse. Maybe it's because...
  • I see Zumba as the new Sweatin' to the Oldies. Baby boomers don't want to admit that they've gotten older, so they take classes in which they dance to club music and shake body parts that have no business being shaken at this point in their lives. We are definitely NOT bringing sexy back in Zumba class. 
  • Honestly, I think I actually bring down the class's median age.
  • Zumba instructors, at least at my gym, appear to be misfits who aren't qualified to teach anything else. They're the only instructors who make me feel good about my physique.
  • It's embarrassing. I completely suck at it, but I imagine that even if I was a pro I'd be embarrassed to have those who are "really" working out see me doing this silly stuff that should definitely be reserved for dark nightclubs where alcohol is being consumed.
So there I was in Zumba class. On the side closest to the windows overlooking the gym floor where the real working out was taking place. And naturally there were college-age women watching us with amused faces. And old men looking for a hip swinging honey to take home for the night. I smiled and waved. They moved on. That's how badly I was swinging and shaking. I tried to laugh it off as I improvised the moves, but no one laughed with me, which made me feel even more pathetic.

Obviously Zumba is not a real workout.
I look hot afterward! Or maybe that's just sweat. 
I was sweating and panting about 30 minutes into what I assumed was a 45 minute class. At that point I
decided to just tap my toes and swing my arms around. What difference could it make? Fifteen minutes later I realized that the class was actually 60-minutes long. So I did the only sensible thing. I left. I had developed a side stitch and a stomach cramp.

And would you believe my hip ached for a whole week afterward?

So I swore never again. But then Abby asked me to take the class with her. I figured it is every teen's right to see their mom do something ridiculous, and since I've never done anything ridiculous before, she had earned this opportunity. We went to Zumba together. The teacher was late. I was counting, praying we'd make it to the 15 minute mark when you're technically allowed to leave class. I later found out that that rule doesn't apply at the health club, where you actually can leave class any time.

Turns out our instructor was Alex. I assumed she was the same teacher I'd had a couple weeks earlier. When she turned up (under the 15 minute rule), she was a he. He is the teacher that kicks butt, literally, in Cardio Kickboxing. The class that I tried twice and gave up on. Second degree black belt, my ass. So when I saw Alex I groaned. Outwardly.

And you can guess what happened next. Or maybe not.

I loved it.

My skills weren't any better, but Alex was a much better instructor. And perhaps there was a small part of me that didn't want to appear completely ridiculous in front of my teenage daughter. So she and I still have that experience to look forward to. And perhaps we'll take a few Zumba classes together in the meantime.