I Am Dumber Than I Thought

I hope my level of bad judgment has hit rock bottom. If it has, then if can only get better from here. It doesn’t get much worse. Unless you’re an elderly lady who buys into scams. If you are, you at least have an excuse: you’re old. Your brain isn’t working the way it is supposed to. The AARP has warnings for you. For me, I wonder if someone gave me a lobotomy in the night. Or fed me a 24-hour mentally incapacitated pill. Here goes:

I bought 33 pounds of meat. From a door-to-door meat salesman. He drove what looked like a 1980 beat-up Datsun pick-up. I wrote him a check for $400.00.

I’ll start the sentence with my main problem: “I was in a hurry.”

It seems I’m always in a hurry. This is where bad decisions happen.

So…I was in a hurry to pick up Fia from school. I was putting Emmett’s shoes on when the doorbell rang. A young kid, probably 25 with baggy jeans and a t-shirt was at my door smiling. He told me he had just delivered meat to my neighbor “Nancy” and he had some left over. He could sell it to me at a really great price.

“You know, like Omaha Steaks, except it’s better.”

(Side note: door-to-door scammers often reference a neighbor named Nancy, Susan or Mark, because there is usually one on every street).

Totally frazzled and frantically looking for my keys, I said, “I don’t have time. I have to go pick up my daughter from school.”

“It will only take a second,” he said and disappeared to his truck (which I hadn’t yet seen or I think–and dear god, I hope–I would have reacted differently).

Next thing I know he is in my living room pulling out cases of burgers, filet mignons, T-bones, 4 types of marinated chicken (8 breasts each, so 32 total), etc. Everything is wrapped tight and stamped. With what, I’m not sure. Just some numbers to probably make it look “official.” The boxes say “VIP Steaks” or something like that. It seemed legit. If you’re a moron.

“We’re moving in a few weeks,” I said. “It doesn’t make sense to buy all this.” Then I added (stupidly), “Though I do have a lot of family coming in for Thanksgiving to feed.” Boom, he had me.  He even offered to find room in my freezer. He said he could stock it in 30 seconds.

How can I be a strong-willed, semi-paranoid, decisive, generally smart (I think) woman and mother and wife and do such an idiotic thing? My only excuse is months of broken sleep (Em is still a wildcard in the night) and a huge house renovation that I’m in charge of. Not to mention the schlepping of Fia five days a week (though Phil takes her to school in the morning), along with the timing of Emmett’s naps which have to be over before I get Fia, blah blah blah. It’s a daily puzzle and a constant race against the nap clock, the school clock, the packing-up-the-rental-house clock, the we-are-soon-moving-and-our-new-house-is-still-a-construction-zone clock. That’s why I haven’t been posting as much lately.

I regularly have 17 things swirling in my brain. I’ll be driving and suddenly words like “POLISHED CHROME FIXTURES!” will come into my head. I have always prided myself on multi-tasking but the daily decisions are killing that talent. I’m not dealing with life or death things either. My kids, thank god, are healthy. We are happy and comfortable. But my brain is clogged. I need a plunger.

Back to me and Meat-Man: I realize there are so many wrongs in this story. I let a complete stranger into my house and my freezer. Phil was working from home in his study above the detached garage. I like to think that I would not have let someone in if I had been home alone with Emmett. But it’s not like Phil would have necessarily heard me if I screamed.

I am paranoid already of the food chain. For god’s sakes, I wrote a blog about how upset I was when I found out I bought tainted berries. I buy organic. My relatives are ranchers in the cattle industry and I have long debated buying directly from them so I know exactly where my meat comes from.  And yet, yet…I let this total stranger/potential axe-murderer in my house????

Me and Meat-Man finished up our money transaction in which he gave me a business card that proclaims him owner of his company. Then he asked me for a tip.

“You’re the owner of the company and you want a tip?” I said.

“I do a lot of driving and I have an almost 2-year old daughter. I’m just trying to make it, ya know.”

He reminded me of a far less polished version of Jesse on Breaking Bad. (Yo.)

Guess what? I gave him $60. Cash. He left; I grabbed Emmett and went to put him in my car. It was then I saw his truck. There was cooler in the back that had S-T-E-A-K stenciled on in red.

As I drove to get Fia I began to curse myself. I picked her up, high-tailed it back home and started to search the Internet. His website was a shell of a site. I could have designed it and I barely know how to turn on a computer. But more worrisome were the many news reports across the country of people getting scammed into buying meat. Bad meat. Unrefrigerated and unregulated meat. The reports went on to say that if you do buy it, make sure you buy from a licensed dealer who drives a refrigerated, well marked truck. I failed on every count.

I think that white Datsun will forever haunt me.

Now his meat may have been perfectly fine. I am pre-judging. But the bottom line is I had a major lapse in judgment.

I frantically called the bank while throwing Panda Puffs to Emmett to keep him occupied. I had already plopped Fia in front of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

I managed to stop payment on the check–a $30 fee. I could live with the tip money plus this, so $90 lost for a lesson learned.  But then realized, I still have all the meat. F–k. Which meant…. breathe, breathe, mantra, mantra…. I had to go tell Phil. It was better to involve him than find myself turned into cube steak.

I took Fia and Emmett to his office. He was in a meeting with a director.  I had to confess to two very smart men how dumb I was. I profusely apologized for bringing Meat-Man into our lives.

He told me to go call the guy, tell him my husband doesn’t want it, pack it up and leave it on the doorstep. I did as I was told. Mid-way packing, the doorbell rang. Luckily at this point Phil had walked in. I looked at him pleadingly.

He carried the boxes to the door. He was very polite but firm. Meat-Man was frustrated and getting defensive. Then he asked if he could come in and cook us some steaks to prove how good they were. If I could have I would have signaled the slit across the throat gesture to Meat-Man because that, well, um, was never going to happen.

Shamed and embarrassed, I told him this was my entire fault, I was sorry, and that I had also stopped payment on the check.

“I’m going to incur a fee for that, ya know,” he said. (No “Yo”… for anyone who watched Breaking Bad).

Phil didn’t–and still doesn’t–know I tipped him (hopefully he won’t read this).

“Do you want $30?” I asked. I just wanted this over with.

“No,” said Meat-Man. “I want your business.”

Phil stood firm and Meat-Man left.

Phil went back to work with the director.

I went inside and watched Daniel Tiger.

The doorbell rang again.

F–k.

Through the window I saw Meat-Man.

“Yes?” I said, while opening the top of the door (it’s a Dutch door).

“I just called my bank. It’s $35 for the bounced check. I want it.”

Phil was suddenly behind me. I went and got $35. Phil shut the door and walked away, not saying a word to me.

In total, I lost $125.00 and my dignity.  I have a husband who doubts my sanity.  I have no food to feed the flock that is coming for Thanksgiving. And I feel like an imbecile. This is not my finest hour.

I hung this sign on my door. I downloaded a meditation app. I hugged my kids.

I think I might become a vegetarian.

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Meat pic via Shutterstock

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