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I’ve been chased out of two stores—on two different continents—by store owners, wielding meat cleavers. The first time was in San Francisco’s Chinatown when the owner nodded at my camera and screamed, “Not in store! Not in store!” then proceeded to run out from behind the counter and chase me down Stockton Street.

From what I could surmise, I’d insulted the dignity of a row of headless ducks in the window.

The second time a store owner raised a meat cleaver to me, my friend, Mary, had ignored a sign in a Paris produce store that said, “DO NOT TOUCH THE GRAPES.” Mary, who spoke fluent French—and had read the sign—had gone from touching, to eating, then oohing and aahing with her mouth full of grapes. This time the skinny store owner and his overweight wife… the one brandishing the meat clever, chased us down the street, through the 8th arrondissement until we took sanctuary in the George V Hotel. We had room keys!

Both incidents occurred when I was in my early 20’s.

While I could understand disrespecting the man’s dead ducks—it was a cultural thing—and my friend’s oral theft of grapes so plump they begged to be part of an homage to a Bacchanal orgy, both incidents gave me pause for thought. How do “old” people—at the time, anyone over 50—become such nasty grouches?

I think I’ve figured it out.

While I haven’t raised a meat cleaver in anyone’s direction, I’ve thought about it. My target? The insurance adjuster who responded when my front porch was flooded with standing water. The plumber traced it back to a faulty hookup of the dishwasher. Yes, the water seeped under some of my hardwood floors, and a few cabinets and sheetrock walls were black with mold, but the situation was relatively contained.

But the insurance adjuster?

He acted like it was a flood of Biblical proportions. He brought in a disaster team who wanted to put on hazmat suits and booties and tear out not just the affected area, but almost my entire kitchen. I was told I’d have to move out, which meant I’d have to board Annie and Lulu. If not, the team would build a “containment wall” around the area we weren’t to enter. Tell that to two, 14-month-old puppies.

That’s not the best part…

They wouldn’t even give me a ballpark bid, just that it could be well over $10,000 and…

Wait for it…

They weren’t even going to rebuild my kitchen! Just gut it.

I will spare you the preposterous demands of my insurance “advocate.” Let’s just say my contractor and I referred to him as “pencil dick” and “the little dictator.”

Yesterday I emailed my insurance agent: “Dear Barbara, I’ve run out of patience with your adjuster. I want my money, and I want him to shuffle off into the sunset, never to hear from him again.”

I now have a better understanding of “old people.” I am one!

And then there’s Lulu, who just threw up a pile of twigs–the size of a catcher’s mitt–on the foot of my bed. Pardon me while I get a roll of paper towels and a vodka tonic!

Love, Brenda


  • Joyce March 17, 2018 at 1:12 am

    Vodkas x2 please

    • 1010ParkPlace March 17, 2018 at 8:14 pm

      Yes, m’am! Coming right up!! How’s your garden? Would imagine your part of the country’s still digging out from snow, hoping for some blossoms to appear. Thanks for stopping by, Joyce! xoxox, Brenda

  • Dan Walthers March 17, 2018 at 8:13 am

    What do you mean! I’m old, my filters wore out along time ago.

    • 1010ParkPlace March 17, 2018 at 8:14 pm

      Love the term “filters!” I lost mine along the way as well. Thanks, Brenda

  • Cathy Williamson March 17, 2018 at 8:29 am

    OMG!!!! I’m so sorry about your kitchen, but you are so funny (I love the term, pencil dick…it’s a favorite of mine!)!!!!
    I would have had several Vodkas too!

    • 1010ParkPlace March 17, 2018 at 8:15 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Cathy! I loved your Chico’s post!! What fun! xoxox, Brenda

  • 1010 Park Place March 17, 2018 at 8:47 am

    “Filters… “That’s a perfect analogy Connie!! xoxox, B

  • Laura Lee Carter March 17, 2018 at 9:04 am

    Hey Brenda! I was chased once by a meat cleaver wielding Chinese cook in my twenties! I was a bad waitress and so he chased me out of the restaurant shouting, “Next time you do that I kill you!” Life used to be so much more excited…but in a bad way!

    • 1010ParkPlace March 17, 2018 at 8:17 pm

      LOL!!! That’s funny! Someone else chased by a Chinese cook with a meat cleaver!! Sounds like your guy was as serious as the man who chased me. We ran about a third of a block before he stopped. He had me worried. xoxox, Brenda

  • Donna O’Klock March 17, 2018 at 9:43 am

    Oh. My. Goodness. Does the fun never end at Chez Brenda? Vodka is definitely called for! And, for what it’s worth, I don’t think you’re a curmudgeon – because you won’t tolerate a fool. Bravo to you!!!
    XO Donna

    • 1010ParkPlace March 17, 2018 at 8:19 pm

      Thanks for the vote of confidence, Donna. I was perfectly gracious to the insurance adjuster, himself, but did write my insurance agent. When I answered the phone, she was laughing! At least she took it well. xoxox, Brenda

  • Connie Turner March 17, 2018 at 11:52 am

    Brenda — it is definitely getting harder to bite my tongue and not blurt out what I really want to say!!! 🙂

    • 1010ParkPlace March 17, 2018 at 8:20 pm

      Cindy… That’s the loss of our filters… I’d like to think I’m gracious and nice, but sometimes….. Great to see you here! Brenda

  • Cindy Beck March 17, 2018 at 11:57 am

    Oh my gosh…..I hope I come back as you in my next life!!

    • 1010ParkPlace March 17, 2018 at 8:21 pm

      LOL! You’re funny, Cindy!! Before you do, let’s talk, and I’ll give you some rules of thumb! Love your comment, Brenda

  • Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski March 17, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    I can’t be anywhere near mold without having a respiratory episode. How frustrating! I’d be pretty cranky too.

    • 1010ParkPlace March 17, 2018 at 8:22 pm

      Thanks for the reminder, Rebecca. I had bad asthma as a kid, but it’s gotten better as I’ve gotten older, but things like that sometimes bother me as well, but not the little bit of mold in my kitchen. Brenda

  • Hilda Smith March 17, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    Gin for me please..

    • 1010ParkPlace March 17, 2018 at 8:23 pm

      Hilda, I prefer gin, but it gives me a headache… Join me for a drink and I’ll make an exception! Brenda

  • 1010 Park Place March 17, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    Connie Turner I’ve zoomed past that point unfortunately!

  • Naomi S. March 17, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    You know, I don’t really think all of us–some, maybe,–lose our filters as we get older. I think that we become more confident of our perceptions and less apt to tolerate fools. We also by way of experience become more able to identify them! But I know that I wouldn’t say something insulting or hurtful to a person unless they were behaving like a fool and it was potentially going to affect me in a big way. No use beating around the bush at that point. Most of us are kind and rational people, but some folks just don’t respond to kind and rational. So saying what needs to be said when dealing with fools is a good thing, ladies! Our filters are still intact when it’s appropriate to use them.

    • Brenda Coffee March 19, 2018 at 5:25 pm

      I believe you’re right, Naomi. While most of us can get annoyed from time to time, I don’t think any of us actually set out to be cruel. Hope you know I didn’t harm or insult any insurance agents in getting my kitchen back together or in the writing of this blog! Thanks, Brenda

  • Diane March 18, 2018 at 9:18 am

    Yeah. Cleavers definitely get my attention!
    I find my patience wearing thin. Which is funny, because I was the most impatient person alive. Then I had children and had to grow some. And now I think I’ve washed it off with repeated (60-plus years of it) shower-ings.
    Personally, I think it has something to do with the soap we use.

    • Brenda Coffee March 19, 2018 at 5:26 pm

      LOL! Diane!!! LOL! Let me know if you find the right soap. So funny! Brenda

  • Mona Andrei March 18, 2018 at 9:54 am

    Pencil dick. I love it!

    • Brenda Coffee March 19, 2018 at 5:27 pm

      That was my contractor’s name for the insurance adjuster. Mine was the “little dictator.” Brenda

  • Pat March 18, 2018 at 10:12 am

    This is hilarious! So sorry you have go through the mess, but it sure makes for an entertaining blog post. I will never forget your term Pencil Dick.

    • Brenda Coffee March 19, 2018 at 5:28 pm

      Thank you, Pat! I’m glad you found it humorous! The insurance adjustor… let’s just say I’ve obtained some perspective. It may have been that second vodka tonic! Brenda

  • LA CONTESSA March 21, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    SEEMS YOU AND ME are having a BAD DAY!!!!!!!!!!
    YOU pay every month on time than when YOU need them they are SLOW,RUDE and NOT UNDERSTANDING!!!!!!!
    Give the 4-legged creatures a HUG from me!

    • 1010ParkPlace March 22, 2018 at 8:32 am

      Elizabeth, I’ve decided insurance companies are like the mob: You pay on time, and if you don’t, they cut you off at the knees and either way… They send GUIDO and LITTLE LOUIE after you! xoxox, Brenda

  • Haralee Weintraub March 21, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    Sometimes too much power comes with a clipboard! He gives insurance people a worse name then they already have! I have been asked to leave, yelled at if I wanted head or no head in buying a duck but never chased with a cleaver!!

    • 1010ParkPlace March 26, 2018 at 4:47 pm

      So you’ve gotten in trouble in those places as well, Haralee? Funny! Leave before they pull out the cleaver!! xoxo, Brenda

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