It’s no secret that I do some of my best work with purchasing. Nothing can make the human female’s life more annoying than a good, old-fashioned mix-up with merchandise, poor packing, overages, shortages, breakages, billing, packings slips, miscommunication, and all the vagaries of various freight companies and their whimsical ideas as to what constitutes timely delivery.
Where would I be without the Vendor Who’s Responsible? The human female orders so many things from them that I have LOTS of opportunities to put my little finger in and stir up some good, old-fashioned mischief.
The human female has two big, incomplete, partially-outstanding orders with the VWR. One is from early in the spring; the other is from May. Will the phosphoric acid ever arrive? How about the pipette tips? The centrifuge tubes? She’s called, she’s poked, she’s been put off—and off, and off. “It’s shipping from a different warehouse.” “It’s shipping from the manufacturer.” “It’s a special order and the manufacturer has to make it.” Thus the phosphoric acid, ordered in early spring, and its June 18 delivery date.
Lately she’s been getting Order! Update! Emails! Progress! Things are moving! There is tracking information! There are arrival dates!
Arrival dates firmly chiseled in jell-o.
Observe closely. Watch those delivery dates.
Great! Some of the pipette tips were set to arrive on June 17. They didn’t.
Woo hoo! Here’s a big chunk of the latest order all set to come on June 20!
Uh, make that June 26.
Make that June 27.
Oh, well. July then. Maybe.
So what has actually arrived? Phosphoric acid? Tips? Tubes? Six crates of nothing?
I wish–Oh, how I wish!–I could get the human female involved in something like this:
That is some first-class mischief right there!
Actually, come to think of it, the human female drives so slowly down country roads in the spring, gawking at all the wildflowers, that often traffic *does* tend to pile up behind her. If I tweak Google to recommend whatever route she’s taking to a bunch of other drivers as a speedy detour, the results could be record-setting.
Speaking of records, this is my 1,700th post. Time flies when you’re creating mayhem!
We’re still at the restaurant. The human female and her fellow diners have emptied enough of the tiny plates and shoved them down the slot by the table that a prize ball is on the way. I’ll distract everyone by knocking over someone’s water, magic the ball away into a pocket dimension, and retrieve it later to open when Sigyn and I are by ourselves.
And here we are! The last one was solid orange. This one is bicolored. What do you think is in there, Sigyn?
??? It’s a plastic bag and a folded up piece of paper.
The bag is full of little black and orange bits. I can’t imagine what this is supposed to be.
It looks a little Halloweeny.
Oh, I get it now! It’s something we have to build. Itty bitty pieces-parts that assemble to make something.
But what is this supposed to make? How are we supposed to know how to progress? Maybe the paper has more information…
Ah. Step-by step instructions! With diagrams, even. I’m brilliant; I can follow directions—this will be a snap! (Literally!)
There! That’s the first two black layers built. Sigyn, you do the orange ones. They’re clear, which is kind of neat.
Odin’s eyepatch! What are we supposed to do with all the leftover bits?
Perhaps we put something together incorrectly?
Oh. See the small print? It says it includes extra pieces, so we are all right. We made it correctly. But what IS it?
Sigyn has figured it out–it’s SUSHI! Enormous, plastic, inedible sushi. I think it is supposed to be salmon roe or something, and the black is the seaweed wrapper. There’s even a little plate on the back of the paper for displaying our masterpiece.
Hmm. I wonder if we shoved this paper plate down the slot in the restaurant—would it count toward the next prize ball?
The humans have dragged us to the Big City to the West again, and wow–they have lost no time in rushing to the place with the sushi-go-round! I would rather leave raw fish than take it, but Sigyn is excited. She had such fun last time.
Remember, my love? No riding the conveyor belt. I mean it. There’s no telling where you might end up, or who might snatch your cute little self off. Then I might have to hurt someone, and we’d get banned from ever coming back–and you know what that would mean: No sesame balls full of sweet red bean goo.
You will just have to behave.
Speaking of… We seem to be beginning the same way we did last time.
Grabby hands! Sigyn thinks they are so soft and sweet that they’d be “comfy to snuggle down and rest in.” Maybe? At least you could have a little snack without having to get up and go to the kitchen. Just turn your head and nibble…
Will wonders never cease! The human female has ordered something different this time. Fried… Can you tell what it is, Sigyn? Could be anything under that breading.
(tentative taste) Hmm. Tastes like chicken. Probably because it is chicken. Not the best chicken I’ve ever had, but not bad. Certainly no match for the tempura shrimp, though.
Tails! Tails are all that’s left. You and I will have to order some shrimp of our own, Sigyn, because the glutton has left us just just the crustaceous hindmosts.
Just for that, human, I’m going to spoon a heaping helping of whatever-this-is on whatever you eat next.
I saw you shudder as you shoved the little pot and spoon away from you, so I’m guessing it will make a very good mischief.
Well, many noshes and tidbits and morsels later, we have come nearly to the end of the gustatory excess. There is *just* enough room left to squeeze in a bite of dessert. Someone at the table has ordered these and is sharing. Any idea what they are? Whatever they are, they’re pale red and pale green, so we approve.
Wait! We’ve had these before, they just didn’t arrive vivisected like this. MMMmmochi ice cream!!! There hasn’t been something this yummy, small, cute, and sweet since Sigyn was born!
The human male has ordered something odd just because he’s intrigued by the photo on the menu. The picture looks like a fried fish, but it says something about ice cream and it is listed with the desserts. It should be zipping this way on the conveyor belt any moment.
And here it is!
It…It looks like a fried fish! Sigyn confirms that it is, indeed, nestled in a bed of ice cream. i have never seen such a thing and I am completely baffled.
Human male: takes a bite
Human female: takes a taste, squeals
Well, nail me to the front door and use me as a knocker! Apparently this is, in fact, dessert! The outside has the consistency of a waffle or a fried doughnut, and the innards are full of sweet red bean-paste! In other words, it is a more highly-evolved form of sweet, beany goo delivery!
The human female now wants one of her very own. However, everyone at the table is completely full, and there isn’t room in anyone’s tummy for so much as a fin. See, human female? If you’d shared the shrimp tempura earlier, you’d have room for a fish waffle now. Serves you right.
The human female’s big order to the Vendor Who’s Responsible for the fall semester wasn’t as big as it has been in some years, but it was big enough, running to multiple line items and a couple tens of thousands of dollars. The various items have been arriving a few here and a few there for over a month now, and it’ a rare week that doesn’t see some sort of packing slip in the human female’s in box.
Years ago now, I had a chat with the Vendor Who’s Responsible about their shipping and their packing slips. I suggested that some items should ship directly from the manufacturer. Thus, a large order to VWR might generate shipments from a dozen different vendors–each vendor using its own color and format of paper, of course.
The human female and her minions usually have enough brains to cope with this, but lately I’ve encouraged the Vendor Who’s Responsible to up their game a little bit.
Wouldn’t it be fun, I suggested, if they put ALL of the items from the whole order on each and every packing slip. Just in case someone can’t recall what they ordered, you understand. It makes for no little confusion, what with all the “shipping from alternate warehouse” notes and Prep Staff’s helpful notations of “this came on prior packing slip.” The slips got so confused, it was impossible to tell what was and wasn’t in any given box. The spreadsheet of orders became amusingly muddled. The human female instructed her minions to check and initial ONLY the things actually included in the particular shipment in question.
Page one of the slip for a recent order. The minions have checked off and dated items included in the shipment:
But wait, there’s more! Page two:
Did anything actually arrive?! The human female has taken to dropping the useless pages on the floor as she reads.
And on we press! Page four:
There we are! Anything else?
Auuugh! I meant to annoy the human female, but this! THIS is why our forests are disappearing! Stop it, vendors! I am going to rule this miserable rock one of these days, and I’d appreciate it if there was still a little vegetation left on it when I do!
More and more, I think I have chosen the right city to be my eventual capital. Oh, granted, it is hotter than Hel in the summer, and the traffic is abysmal, and as far as gardening conditions go, it’s the armpit of the horticultural world, BUT…
..The pizza situation is improving.
One of the local markets has just opened a pizzeria just inside the front of the store. There it sits, wafting its grease-and-garlic siren song right into the foyer, so that all of those mortals who are “shopping hungry” are immediately drawn by the nose to investigate the source of the ambrosial aroma. Those who have not arrived hungry are rendered so with a few sniffs. It’s all anyone can do to make it past the pizza to the produce.
Two other, stand-alone pizza restaurants have opened in the last year or so. Both specialize in building pies on a thin crust, adding whatever toppings one desires, and baking them in a flash in an oven kept at roughly the temperature of the surface of the sun.
We’re’ trying out one of them today. Since the local town council has made the nearby parking garage free and obviated the need to pay just to walk around this section of town, it seems like a good time.
The menu is pretty straightforward…
Though that gratuitous stray apostrophe is giving me hives. I note that they list gorgonzola as one of the possible toppings. If I live on this planet for a millennium, I will never understand the Midgardian fascination with weaponized cheese.
No two souls will ever agree on what toppings should go on a pizza, so pizza-crafters will often divide the crust of a shared pie down the center and top the halves differently, with a sort of no-man’s-land in the middle. Behold–the humans’ pizza is such a pie:
Chicken, spinach, artichoke, tomato, basil, mozzarella, and a nice tomato sauce.
There is a demilitarized zone separating the pro-mushroom camp (human female) from the anti-mushroom camp (human male.) Norns defend any fungus unwary enough to accidentally stray over the line. Such a shroom will be dealt with using extreme prejudice.
Which is why it will be so much fun when the male discovers the bit of basidiomycete that I’ve hidden under his copious artichokes. He will glare daggers at the female and accuse her of disrespecting the culinary and matrimonial treaties, and she will accuse him of being a baby when it comes to members of Kingdom Fungi.
Then I will direct the female’s attention to the calorie counts listed on the menu and whisper in her ear that each delicious bite is in direct conflict with her desire to fit into her clothes without the application of grease and a shoehorn.
And thus what began as a pleasant, peaceful evening, sharing a pizza at an outdoor table while watching little children play upon the grass, will devolve into defensiveness, resentment, self-loathing, and my ability to snag about a third of their pizza for myself.
My work here is done.
The human male is the Department’s IT geek, so usually he can fix whatever happens to be wrong with the human female’s computer. He is a very busy person, however, and sometimes he just can’t get over to help her right away.
Today is just such a day. The human female desperately needs an upgrade to her keyboard and the human male is stuck dealing with a laptop that some hapless faculty member has managed to drop into the Amazon River.
So, being the helpful fellow that I am, I have sent the female down the hall to talk to the ferns or something while I make the necessary modifications.
I think her keyboard is missing a few vital buttons. There, that’s better.
Just admiring my handiwork. Too bad it won’t actually launch her across the room.
I ordered this next button special. It’s like the manufacturer knows her or something.
This orange one will help her chronicle her purchasing woes.
And she can hit this red one when the new labs don’t work. Or when a TA fails to show up to teach.
Or when the fire alarm goes off. During class.
Or when she’s ten minutes late leaving for a meeting that is on the other side of town.
Or when she catches a glimpse of herself in the restroom mirror and sees what her hair looks like and realizes that the smiles she’s been getting all day are not admiration but pity.
Or I could install a “well, crap” button and that would pretty much cover all events.
Uh, oh! Here she comes! X%&#!
Every year, the human female has to cross her heart and swear that she isn’t going to use her powers—or her drug-precursor chemicals—to whip up a quick and profitable batch of meth down in the basement. There’s a specific form to fill out that assures compliance with all applicable DEA rules. Ordering any of the chemicals on the naughty list assures that the vendor will be sending the blank form and asking for the completed document back. The one from the Vendor Who’s Responsible looks like this.
So it came this year. The human female signed it, scanned it, and pdf’d it back. She received another notice that she had to do it. She huffed and replied that she HAD done it, and attached a copy. She then got the email equivalent of a long-suffering sigh from the Vendor Who’s Responsible, pointing out that she had to have her manager or supervisor sign it. See? There’s a spot right there at the bottom. Never mind that she hadn’t had anyone authorize her last year. That was then; this is now.
So she hunted up a boss and had him sign it. She scanned it, pdf’d it, sent it back, muttered some under her breath, and counted herself good for the next year.
Fast forward a week or two, and she received yet another email notice that she needed to complete the form. Once again, she pointed out that she HAD filed it–twice. “See?” she said. “It is attached. right. here.” There was quite a dramatic eye-roll involved. She looked like one of those baby dolls whose eyes roll back in their sockets when you tip them. There might even have been a faint “mama” whimper, but I can’t be sure.
The Vendor Who’s Responsible wrote back, pointing out what she had overlooked, that this request was for her, but under a different account number. Ehehehehe. I wonder how that happened???
So she wrote the second account number on the form, right next to the first one, scanned it, pdf’d it, and sent it back. Mentally, she filed the incident under completed business, uttered a few not-so-sotto-voce profanities, and prepared to forget about it for another year.
Until she got another notice that her DEA papers were about to expire. She sent back a terse little email pointing out that they’d already had three different copies, with two different account numbers, with and without a supervisor’s official okey-dokey and “here it is attached again in case you numb-wits couldn’t read the previous iterations.” This time, the whimper was more like the growwwlll that comes out of a dog just before it sinks its teeth into the meaty part of your calf.
Want to know the funniest part of all this? It’s the possibility that she might purchase iodine crystals that triggers the DEA compliance paperwork. She’s going to check the new, revised lab exercises and realize that she won’t actually be buying iodine anymore. You’ll know when that happens–it’ll be just like the sound a desperate coyote makes as it chews off a leg in hopes of either escape or bleeding out into sweet oblivion.
P. S. Here’s a catchy little song about “No Iodine.” I think I’ll get it stuck in her head for the next three days.
No trip to the Big City to the South would be complete without a good wander through the Large Market to see what producical oddities or strange beer labels are on offer. So here we are, torn sleeve and all.
Sigyn is delighted to find fresh lychees.
I’m sure they’re delicious, my love, but aren’t they a bit spikey to sit on?
There are some new friends to be made in the kitchenwares department.
Now, I may not have a degree in biology, but I’m pretty sure that rabbits’ tails don’t look like that. Or attach to the top of the hips. Oh, wait. The tail is fine, there’s just this extra loopy bit of flesh that can be used as a handle. Should have had that removed at birth and spared the poor, unfortunate lapin from a life of dairy-based servitude.
This calf is more anatomically correct.
Aside, you know, from the whole gaping-hole-where-the-vertebrae-and-viscera-ought-to-be thing.
Human female, I think you should marshal your scanty intellectual capabilities and write some technical papers: The Effects of Caudal Deformities on Employment Opportunities and Outcomes Among Porcelainimous Lagomorphs. A Novel Form of Bovine Spina Bifida With Concomitant Thoracic Vacuity. Frigga knows your C.V. could use some punching up…
Moving on! I think the floral department might be Sigyn’s favorite. It’s nearly summer, which means a lot of bright, bold, “sizzling” colors. Sigyn says she has a soft spot for zinnias–mostly because they ARE a soft spot. Also, they come in red, which is always a plus.
Hmm. The sign says, “Local Flavor.” I know that’s just meant to highlight in-state sources of floral goods, but could you really eat a zinnia? Hey, human male, whip out that i-phone you like so much and look it up. Edible? Yes? Well, I’ll be.
By Idunn’s Little Apples! These yellow buttercups are ENORMOUS! And so shiny they look like they’ve just been waxed.
Next to the dianthus, the effect is very striking.
Say, I think I feel a poem coming on:
Roses are red
Dianthus is purple
And hiccups are burple
And finally, for those persons who really can’t figure out whether or not they should nibble on the floral arrangements, I give you this stunning masterpiece in pink, purple, white, and green, complete with makings for coleslaw.
They always say you shouldn’t go shopping hungry or you will buy too much. I guess if you do, and you somehow manage to make it safely through the produce, the bins of candy, the bakery, the cheese counter, and the ready-made meals, they will still get you with an $85.00 bouquet of edible posies and foliage.
Had enough shopping for one day, Sigyn? Let’s get you home and see about mending your sleeve.