No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

I’ve often heard the expression “no good deed goes unpunished,” but never really understood it. How do good deeds actually get punished?  I’ve had a lot of people do very nice things for me over the years, and I never knew any of them to get punished for it.

               This week I found out firsthand what the expression is all about.   

               It all began because I married a morning person.  Morning people are great, and obviously I love one in particular very much. I think it’s wonderful that he wakes up without the aid of an alarm clock and in a good humor. I really admire this. The only problem is that I am not a morning person. I am a night owl. So when he’s ready for bed (about an hour after he’s been snoozing in his recliner) at 9:30, I’m ready for a game of scrabble.  Conversely, when he hops out of bed and whispers a cheery, “good morning,” I merely roll over and bury my head under the pillow.

               After several decades of marriage, we’ve fine-tuned this small difference in our biorhythms so that it actually helps both of us. In the early morning, he gets up and watches the news and works out. Both of these are activities I loathe and so he gets them out of the way without me having to be involved in any way. After he retires for the night, I watch a Hallmark movie or two that have been recorded. Since he thinks these are the least interesting movies in the world, I get them out of our queue without forcing him to nap through, I mean watch, them.

               Each of us takes some care to be quiet when the other is asleep. Last week, I noticed that the bathroom door next to our bedroom have hinges that squeak very loudly. I noticed it because it was midnight when I opened the door and created this awful noise while hubby was several feet away, sleeping.

               The next day, I used the WD40 to oil those pesky hinges. The door moved back and forth soundlessly and I felt pretty good about my good deed.

               Fast forward to that evening. We were getting ready for bed (because I always put on my jammies when he does – again so as to be quiet as a little mouse when I do climb into bed). He was in the bathroom brushing his teeth and I came in to get my cold cream. I hugged him around the waist and he jumped, exclaiming, “Gosh, your hands are cold!”  I followed that up in the way of any good wife, and immediately put my hands on his back and then on his tummy. He turned around, toothbrush in mouth, and tried to reach to tickle me.

               This went on for a few exchanges until I realized that he is much bigger and stronger than I, so I turned and began to race out of the bathroom.

               This is when I discovered that by oiling the hinges, I had created an easily-moving door. It moved so easily that when you opened it, it gradually began to swing shut. I discovered this when my forehead smacked into the edge of the door very hard.

               Ouch. I had a red mark (now a bruise) and a tiny little knot. My husband immediately grabbed me and held me tight and asked if I was okay. Of course, I’m totally okay physically. Even better, now I fully understand the meaning of “no good deed goes unpunished.” 

               I should have just let the squeaky door alone.

The Cure is Worse than the Ailment

I had an incident with my card table this week that brought back a whoosh of memories. I was taking down the table to vacuum and one of the legs pinched the pad of my palm. It pinched it so quickly and so hard, that an immediate bruise popped up. Plus, it broke the skin, so it started to bleed.

               I put some ice in a napkin and held it on there and soon it felt better. The napkin also soaked up the dots of blood. After a while, I felt good enough to go about my business.  I finished putting away the card table and decided it was a good time to take a shower.

               I was innocently beginning to wash my hair when the shampoo got onto my palm. It stung a bit and I decided when I got dried, I would borrow my husband’s instant-skin product. Since he’s so handy around the house – fixing, painting, gardening, and building – he frequently comes into the bathroom and brushes on this little liquid to a cut or scrape on his fingers, arms, or legs. It seems to work quite well.

               So I took the little brush from the bottle and plopped it onto the little gouge of my own. YIKES! Immediately a jolt of agony ran from my hand to my brain!  It felt like I’d jabbed an ice pick into my hand!  I screamed and ran outside to confront my husband. Why had he never even blinked an eye when he used this stuff?  He smiled at me and said, “Oh, yeah, that stuff hurts,” and went on tinkering with the lawn mower.

               As I walked back into the house, my mind flooded with memories of childhood scrapes and bumps. My own mother used a couple of different products on these kinds of injuries. The first one was merthiolate (which we pronounced “ma-thy-o-laid”). In October 1929, Eli Lilly and Company developed and registered thimerosal under the trade name Merthiolate.  Merthiolate was used to kill bacteria and prevent contamination in antiseptic ointments, cremes, jellies, and sprays used by consumers and in hospitals. It also hurt like the devil when applied to any open wound.  As it turns out, it contained mercury, which can be harmful to humans if left on the skin too long. So in the late 1990’s, the product was banned. You can see what the little bottle looked like, below.

The second product my mom used was mercurochrome. This little bottle, seen below, was also a staple in our medicine cabinet.    Mercurochrome is a trade name for merbromin, which was the first antiseptic to contain mercury. The medicinal uses for this chemical were first recognized by Hugh H. Young in 1918, a physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital. It was also used to treat scrapes and cuts and it should come as no surprise that it stung   Even though Mercurochrome had just a small amount of mercury, mercury poisoning was a consideration. Ultimately, in 1998 the FDA forbade the sale of Mercurochrome across state lines, which effectively killed the product.

My husband’s family didn’t use either of the above products. He tells me his grandmother had a great love of something called Absorbine Jr.  He claims that even if he cut off a toe, he would not go to grandma’s house, because she’d whip out the Absorbine and dab it on – and the pain was more than any cut he ever had.

Absorbine was originally created in 1892 by Wilbur F. Young and his wife, Mary Ida, to relieve the muscle pain of their hardworking horses that pulled heavy cargo. The popularity of the formula grew among farmers, who soon realized it quickly relieved their own aches and pains, too.  This medication is used to treat minor aches and pains of the muscles/joints, so it’s somewhat a mystery why Grandma put it on scrapes, but those were the good old days.  In 2013, Absorbine Jr. was discontinued, though we might still be able to get generic products that have the same ingredients. 

My guess?  These are the ingredients in that stuff I used on my hand wound. Because it really hurt more than the pinch in the first place!

Mail Order Confusion

Let me begin by stating, very clearly, that delivery personnel have been god-sends to me during the pandemic. I have appreciated each and every one of them and have relied on their services to keep my household running smoothly.

               That said, I did have a couple of encounters that left me a little…confused. Both of them, coincidentally, began in August.  Let’s start with the catalogue that came then. It was from a company I have used before, and I happily perused its pages to find holiday gifts and a couple of items for my kitchen. I carefully tallied my purchases, filled out the order form, wrote a check and mailed it all off.

               About a week later, I received their “thank you for your order” email. It said I would get a notice when my order shipped. Another week passed and I received an email that said, “How did you like your order?”  I hadn’t been notified that it had shipped, nor had I received my order, so I quickly wrote back, explaining my situation. To this, I was sent a form letter saying I’d receive a response within 2 business days.

               Six days later, I received a strange email from the company. It was written by someone with a title and appeared to be on letterhead, but the grammar was a tad bit “off.” Basically, it said they had looked up my order and I was $13 short of the total, which is why it had not been shipped. Since I had not kept a copy of my order form (dumb!), I wrote a check for $13, included a copy of her email, and sent off the check.

               The NEXT day, my package arrived. Everything was in it. I was a little puzzled. But I unpacked the box and went about my business. Last week, I received my check for $13 back in the mail, with a form letter saying I had overpaid. Hmmm.

               Also in August, I submitted a little card from the middle of a magazine to start a subscription. I was delighted to receive the next week’s issue almost immediately. I also got an issue the week after that, along with an invoice for the subscription. I quickly wrote a check and mailed that off.

               Then my magazine didn’t arrive. Nor did it come throughout September. I didn’t receive any in October, so I called the company. I chatted with a nice lady (Nancy) who told me they didn’t get my check until September. That’s true. I told her I sent the check the day I received the invoice – September 1 – and that my bank tells me that it cleared September 23. So shouldn’t I have started receiving the magazine at least in October?

               Nancy told me, no. They sent the magazine twice, and since they didn’t have my payment, they stopped it. Now it would restart on December 7. Seriously?  I believe I actually said that to her, out loud. It would take three months to start getting it weekly? She said, yes, sorry, that was their system.

               Then I went out to get the mail that very day, and what do you think?  The newest issue of the magazine was there! November 4. Hmmm again.

               Maybe it’s just the pandemic. Or August. Who knows? But it is strange!

Janet Jackson, I Feel For You

Most people either saw, or heard about, Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction during a halftime show at a Super Bowl. As it turns out, a lot of celebrities have had various body parts exposed or “fall out,” so those of us who have suffered this indignity totally understand the instant embarrassment. Let me digress here to say that I researched photos on the internet of famous wardrobe malfunctions (there are a lot of them!) and they are all on women. Don’t men ever have problems with zippers, buttons, or shirts?  Apparently not, at least not the famous men.

               At any rate, I have been thinking about these kinds of mishaps because of what happened to me today. I was in town for the downtown shops’ trick-or-treating event, sporting a large pumpkin costume complete with pumpkin hat. After the festivities, I returned home to quickly change clothes and run a few errands. I threw on a flannel shirt over my t-shirt, changed from leggings to jeans, and swapped my boots for sneakers. Then I headed out to do all the normal Saturday stuff.

               I went to the gas station and filled the car. I bopped into the grocery for a few last-minute, game-night treats. I got a coffee at the local coffee shop. I went to the bookstore to buy a book on tape. I sauntered into the hardware store to have a key made for a friend. Then I met that friend at a designated spot to give her the key.

When we were talking, a breeze stirred up and I tried to button my shirt. That’s when I noticed that I had my flannel shirt on inside out for the entire afternoon! Though my pal said she “didn’t notice,” I had to wonder how many others had!

This reminded me of the day, years ago, when I was dressing for work. I had an array of high-heeled shoes, all in the same style (comfortable), but different colors. I was dressing in the dark and easily found a black shell to wear with my deep purple business suit. I had these cool purple heels that matched, and I slipped them on and happily went to work. You know where this is going, don’t you?

               It was in my second meeting of the day when I looked down at my crossed legs and noticed the pretty purple heel on my right foot…and the non-matching brown heel on my left foot!  Geez.

               Years before that, my mother-in-law had a near mishap with her sunglasses. She had just purchased new ones with rose-tinted lenses before the family went on vacation. While there, the women went to a mall and ran into a woman at one of those kiosks selling jewelry cleaner. She cleaned my rings, my sister-in-law’s rings, and mom’s rings. They sparkled and each of us purchased a jar of the cleaner from her.

               On the way back to the condo, mom exclaimed, “oh dear, that jewelry cleaner discolored my ring!  It’s turning red!”  She was very upset and insisting that we turn around and go back to the mall. I kept looking at her ring, but saw nothing amiss. Finally, my sister-in-law looked at mom and said, “Mom, take off your sunglasses!”  Her rose-colored lenses had almost caused an inter-state incident!

               Wardrobe mishaps are funny – after the fact. Have you had one?

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