Bhplayon's Blog

Stories in the life of Betty Brown Hammond…..truth sometimes seems like fiction.

Real Life is Stranger than fiction

Recent photo  of Matt and his Dog Dargo

Recent photo of Matt and his Dog Dargo


In 2007, my son, Stephen, raised around $5,500, for Push America, an organization that exists to improve lives of those with disabilities, in an event called Journey of Hope.  He bicycled as part of a 30 man team from San Francisco, CA to Washington, DC.  It was a 63 day journey stopping daily to volunteer and interact with people with disabilities.

Megan Alman  of the Newnan Times did a series of articles highlighting his journey. It was all very exciting. Dennis and I were sooooo proud.

Well, Sunday, ( Feb 27,2011) I get the paper out of the box and see my nephew, Matt Brown on the cover in a story by Alex McCrae. It isn’t the first time he’s been in the paper. He has Muscular Dystrophy and the paper has featured him before.   But this time as I read the article I had so many emotions.  First of all, I have always had a special place in my heart for Matt. He has such an amazing spirit. I cannot imagine having his limitations, yet having such an optimistic outlook on life!   Butas I walked the long gravel driveway back to my house….I was hit with a wave of melancholy. The very thing he credits his optimistic outlook, his faith or religion, Jehovah’s Witnesses….. is the very thing that has kept me out of his life!

But I have no regrets for leaving the witnesses….. as you can see. I think my son turned out just fine without them. However, there are so many similarities in these first cousins,  Stephen and Matt,  including their optimism. It is such a shame the two have never gotten to know one another!

The writers of the stories are oblivious to all of this.  Will they ever  know how  these stories connect?

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“Above all, Love each other deeply…………Because love covers over a multitude of sins” 1 Peter 4, 8

This is one of my favorite Bible verses. I have felt the magical power of love in my life.  Those who love me, who truly love me are looking over some pretty obvious flaws.  They are putting up with me.  And I appreciate that. Some who love me have a hard time putting up with me. I know they still love me, but sometimes this encourages me to change for the better.   Love is powerful. If you can somehow maintain a strong love for one another. All else will eventually fall into place.

I believe this to be true.

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3:07 am …. I’m in Stryker Hell……… Again

It is a Stryker GetAround Knee. Yeah, Right! I’ll call mine a Stryker GotoHell Knee. There is no telling what it cost to have this knee installed. Plus the rehab. The right knee is good but not perfect. It has some pain. But if they both were like the right knee I would not complain. I would be riding my bike and best of all SLEEPING! There is no sleeping with this knee. To top it off my nose is bleeding an I have pink eye in both eyes and a stuffy nose and hacking cough. Somebody please shoot me. I thought I had reached a peak of Stryker Hell last week when I awoke at 3:00 a.m.  with menstrual cramps and knee pain.  I am fat and out of shape. That has to change. It is increasingly difficult when I am so tired from sleep deprivation and my knee constantly hurts.

I am putting a lot of hope and faith  in the arthroscopic surgery I will plan Thursday the 27th. I am hoping it will offer some relief and answers.

I went to my Dear Doctor Lonergan today for the last time. He is, well was (WAAAAAAA) my Gynecologist.  He is retiring in a few months. I have been his patient for about 25 years. He  has been my counselor and my friend. He has a sense of humor that a lot of people may not get. To me he was really funny. We had many laughs. He didn’t sugar coat things and I could tell him anything.  I will miss him. But today he came in with great concern and asked if I had seen a certain doctor. I said I had never seen that doctor. He sighed in relief. He said it is in my charts that I have lung cancer on both lobes of my lungs. He said it is probably an error. I should call my primary care physician, Dr. McDonald, and tell him to remove this from my charts. So I called when I got home. Left a message with his nurse. They called promptly and told me I did not have cancer. WHEW!!!!!! Because on the way home I was thinking. Well, Dr. M did take recent x-rays of my chest. Could it be???? What if I do?????? Yikes???? Why didn’t they tell me???? But thank goodness! I don’t. But that poor OTHER Betty Hammond. Bless her heart. My prayers are with her. That is an awful error!

I will try to go back to sleep. Sometimes I can after an hour or so. Most times I just stay up all night.  Ready to fix this knee. Lose some weight……and go to Florida!  Actually….hope I go to Florida even if I’m fat. I am ready to put my toes in the sand!  Perhaps I can avoid being harpooned…and if I wear long shirts my muffin top stays underneath….who am I kidding I have the entire dang muffin under there!  But check with me in a few months. Especially if I get my knee fixed!!!!

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I’m Radioactive

Pink Dogwood against the sky

Pink Dogwood against the sky

“Radioactive”, the popular Imagine Dragon’s song was an earworm today as they injected me with radiation at Emory Midtown, Radiology Department.  Well, it took a few tries. The first technician stuck me several times in each arm and hand, blew a vein. Then decided it would be in our best interest to call in Quan, the vein specialist. When Quan took on the job he got it on the first attempt and I didn’t feel a thing. Where was Quan in the beginning????

I came in this morning thinking I was having my knee injected with dye or iodine.  When I got to the desk the receptionist explained the procedure called a Total Body Scan. I was having radiation injected into my veins. I would wait around for three hours for the  radiation to flow throughout my body.  Then I would be scanned by an imaging device similar to an MRI. It would take about thirty minutes. It was all painless, except for the needle sticks.

The purpose is to get a scan of my bones and my Stryker knees to see if they are loose. Especially the left one that is hurting me so badly. I hope to have the results early next week. If the Stryker is loose it will light up on the scan. If loose it would be replaced. If not, next plan is arthroscopic surgery to find out if the plastic in my Stryker has cracked. There is a reason I am in extreme pain with this knee.

Spring is getting near, I hoped to have my knee issues resolved by then. Doesn’t look like the case. But I know my problems are minimal compared to those with life threatening issues. I will count my blessings and hope that I can get the answers from these tests. This knee is fixed soon or at least I will get relief from the pain….that is my hope.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: When I was taken to the imaging room the first thing I noticed was the beautiful ceiling. It was a dogwood against the sky. This picture is not the same one from the room. As I was lying there being scanned, I admired the picture. I had resolved to get a picture of it before leaving the room. However, by the end of the scan I forgot to get the pic. I wanted to include a dogwood picture in the blog. It is so beautiful and reminds me of Spring.

The Results:

Got quite a cheerful message from the nurse at Dr. Oskoei’s office. She said the Bone Scan was good. There was nothing abnormal in it. My knee looked great. And if I still feel like the knee is hurting, I should call to set up arthroscopic surgery to find out if any of the plastic components are cracked. :\ SERIOUSLY!!!! There is nothing showing in any of the test they ran that will back me up on my stories that this knee hurts like HELL. This makes me so sad. I want to be Vindicated! I wanted them to say AHHHHH no wonder you are in such pain. But NO I get Scepticism. I am sick to my stomach! I really do not know what to do next. Should I go through with the arthroscopic surgery? What if the plastic is intact? Where will that leave me. Just Cripple for life. Because that is what I am. I cannot get down on the floor easily…or on my knees. I use my knee but I am in constant pain. It is really bad at night. This is way worse that it was BEFORE the surgery. I am venting at this point. I have big decisions to make.

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U-scan for Dummies (well, apparently) Welcome to my world

Me-Robot Monitor with Best Bud Brittany

Me-Robot Monitor with Best Bud Brittany

Robot Monitor – U-scan Attendant.

The Robot’s software design is one that walks the customer through the process. Providing an ongoing Tutoral.  The system knows all items by weight,  and the weight  of the scanned item clears if it matches when placed in the bagging area. If it is different,  the attendant is notified and the customer cannot continue scanning until it clears.  We attendants,  are told not to clear items unless we know the reason for clearing. Management frowns on clearing “willy nilly” and actually frowns on excessive clearing.

Veggies are a snag for a lot of customers of self check out. The software makes it easy to look up the items, or they can punch in the code on the sticker found on the veggie.  I always get THAT customer who tries to punch the veggie code in the wrong place on the screen. They push the Alternate ID button instead of the Item look up button.  Or the outright trickster who enters one cucumber, but actually has five organic cucumbers.  The Robot Monitor has to have a keen eye to spot some veggie issues. The organic vs non organic is one of them.

When I started attending Robots I got so sick of the repetitious chiding of the Robot Voice. I would hear it in my sleep!   It was almost a blessing to have someone use the Spanish option. That dude seems so much nicer!  There is a picture that pops up on the screen occasionally.  There is always THAT customer who tells me “She doesn’t look ANYTHING like YOU!”  I chuckle and play along. This is usually the customer who tries to put the money in the coupon printer, or the slot the money is to come out.  People have a hard time finding where to put their money!

When customers first walk up to the robot, many place their keys or wallet on the scale. Then try to enter their alternate I.D.. This alerts the attendant. The scale has to remain clear…..Now your shirttail is on the scale, ma’am. …Could you please move your  Starbucks Coffee off the scale, sir?…..Yes, one lady spilled her entire Starbucks Macchiattos on the scale. I was over there like a NINJA with the paper towels.  I managed to get the liquid up before it seeped into the inner workings  of the robot.  It had flowed into the bagging area and into some bags….a big mess!  Have to say it smelled quite pleasant. I have had customers drop and burst open jugs of milk, vinegar, bottles of wine, and the list could go on and on.  Vinegar was probably the worse.

Ok,  The most sensitive issue I face as a Robot Monitor is having a…… hmmmm how do I say this…..Ok, it’s my blog, I don’t have to be PC……..A Big Fat Gut rest upon the scale. The customer is unaware that their Big ole belly is on the scale! The robot has alerted the attendant. The customer screams at me “IT WON’T SCAN” . I have been busy with all the other robots as I turn to figure out what is going on.  and It doesn’t take but a second to analyze this issue.  How oh how do I, politely, tell someone their stomach is on the scale?  It was awkward at first, but I have learned to say,  “Please step back from the scanner and try again.”  When they do, it clears! Some realize what has just happened and blush. Others are clueless.

On this topic, I have to tell a story of when I worked customer care. A lady who had gone through U-scan was concerned that she had been charged something like $14.00 for tomatoes. I reweighed them and they were only a couple bucks. She had weighed her belly LOL. Wonder how much extra is made per year from belly weight. Haha
There is THAT customer who places the basket on their bagging area scale when they have scanned their last item.This notifies the attendant and takes away the payment screen. I either clear for them. Grrrrr or go take the basket off. One of my biggest peeves is the person who skips bagging on an item and  PUTS THE ITEM IN THE BAGGING AREA instead of her cart. CLUELESS!  The attendant is alerted!  And they look at me in disgust when this happens as if the Robot has malfunctioned.  Hey Buddy, it is not the Robot!  It is the Operator!

Then you have THAT customer with a handful of kids who are running around while they are scanning, pushing buttons on the other robots. If I see them going for the robots I freeze them so they can’t do anything. But when they mess them up, scan items etc. I have to void and reset. Then, there is one kid sitting on the bagging area. The mom is scowling at me because her robot has alerted the attendant. I have to tell them repeatedly that the robot will not scan when there is a child sitting in the bagging area. Sometimes this gets the kid in trouble….. she/he yells at the child. I feel bad at that point. Poor kid.

A lot of people finish scanning, whip out their card and swipe. Stand there. I look up to see they have not pressed pay now or the card button. I tell them to do so. Or the person who pushes pay now, but not the card button. Mind you the annoying voice of the robot gives verbal instructions. The keypad will say “continue checking out” . So the customer is standing there for a long time….I realize this is the problem. I tell a large percentage of my customers they need to press the card button on the screen. Not sure if they don’t push it to begin with, or it is a computer glitch and has to be pushed again.

This happens a lot. If it were an isolated incident I would not mention it. I take an I.D. for alcohol. I’ll have THAT customer  say “ better stick around, I have some more, you will need that again”  No, we do not card you for every six-pack you buy. Once we take your I.D it is good for that entire purchase. Smile

A practice called “shopping from the cart” is common at U-scan.  A person pulls up with a huge cart of groceries. Their shopping buddy goes to get another cart.  They have a limited amount of money, they then make choices from the cart. They choose the items  they want and leave the rest in the extra cart. Yay, Go backs.

I also have had THAT customer scan one pack of deli meat or chicken (or anything) and put two in the basket. That is why I never clear “willy nilly” you have to check!  When “busted the people always act so surprised that two are in there. Oh my! how did that happen!  ….

Senior day is fun. Seniors walk up yell at me “I’m a senior”. They make sure that I ad that discount. Even if it is for a pack of gum.

The software program on the robots should to ask if you are using your own bags if you begin to place items on the bagging area before scanning. But most people begin scanning, THEN put their bags on. This means I have to clear the bag. Sometimes if a customer puts a rather large amount of bags on the bagging area, I will receive a message on my screen. I don’t remember the exact words, but it says something about,  “illegal bagging”……..LOL What am I supposed to do, go over there and confiscate their bags and kick them out?  Call the KROGER PO PO??? What does that mean?  I just clear it.

Here is another peeve that really gets to me. If business slows a bit it’s time to clean the robots. It never fails!  THAT one customer that comes up will gravitate to the robot I am cleaning! Why not use one of the other three OPEN robots. I am at this one! UGH!  Why do they always do that???

There was THAT customer who contacted the 800 number with a complaint on U-scan. His complaint. We didn’t help him scan his groceries. Hey dude. It’s SELF CHECK OUT…..U-SCAN. What a Jerk! Speaking of jerks, I was observing a customer scan their groceries when this customer turns around, walks over to me and starts yelling at me to leave her alone and STOP watching her. I remained calm, although I wanted to punch her lights out! I told her I meant no harm, I was only doing my job! Duh!

Some customers are disappointed they are not able to scan their own coupons.  I get the message on my screen. Customer is scanning coupon that alerts me to walk over and scan for them.

For some reason, people come to me instead of customer care. I have to direct a lot of customers to customer care….or Guest Services.  I also direct a lot of people to the Restroom.  We need a separate uniform shirt. One that says. “Go past the books, there is a sign, restrooms to the right”.

With all this said….I have a lot of Regular Customers who have become my friends. Some I don’t even know their name. When I was out for my surgery,  my customers asked about me continually,  one leaving a card for me.  As my knee gets worse I know I might have to give this up…..I will miss those smiling faces. And even with the “dummy” talk and all the problems. Most of it was humorous and enhanced my job experience.  And while I am dishing it out, I have to be able to admit my mistakes. I have made some doozies at U-scan.  I have broken at least two I pads.  In my defense, I think it was their time to go. But I owned it. After the second one, all I did was run crying to my boss at the time, Mr. Stewart.  I have accidentally added coupons to the wrong robot. I’ve added beer and water to the wrong robot.  Caught these mistakes in time and reversed it. But it was embarrassing….to say the least.  Most awkward is calling a woman sir, because from the rear view they look like a man.  They turn around and are obviously a woman, but it’s too late. I have already said it. I’ve called a man, ma’am, too…..Oh well, I would not want a mundane job!

Postnote: The picture above is before my best bud Brittany moved away to Virginia. She was one of the best Robot Monitors! She actually could do about anything at Kroger…..Smart Cookie:)

Another Postnote: I thought I had seen everything at U-scan, but apparently….Not. Yesterday a woman was trying to insert cash into the Robot. I was at the podium at the time looking through our new keyboard manual. I heard her say “It won’t take my money!” in a very frustrated tone. I looked up to see her trying to insert ALL the bills into the bill slot at once. LOL I thought I was going to laugh if I tried to correct her, so I said “I’ll take your cash ma’am.” . I know she is probably thinking of a bank ATM. When depositing money you can put it all in at once.

There will be many Postnotes, haha: Another thing that intrigues me is how some customers are so shocked when the robots are out of order. For instance. Sometimes the robots do not dispense change and it prompts them to pick up their change from the attendant. (ME) They will stand and stare at the Robot and I eventually have to tell them I have their change…or take it to them. They always say. What is wrong? Why did it not give me my change? IT’S A COMPUTER! Sometime’s it malfunctions OR it may run out of money. It has to be filled up by a person.
I had one lady tell me yesterday that (the robot) was the best invention EVER! On the other hand sometimes I get speeches from people (this is usually when the robot station is the only way to pay…after cashiers have closed post 11:00pm) telling me how they would never voluntarily use u-scan because it takes the job of a cashier. Blah Blah Blah they go on and on. I just tell them I am grateful that I have a job as a robot monitor.
Another one….just when I thought I’d seen it all at U=scan. A lady spilled her cherry tomatoes into the slot where the money comes out. I tried to grab them before they went deep into the “workings” of the robot, but they slipped on in. I closed the robot down. Expecting tomato juice to run out the bottom any second. But we got long lines and I could not get a manager to come down with a key….so I opened it up. it has been running smoothly for days now with tomatoes inside. Guess they will dry up eventually.

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I was RIGHT, so why do I feel like a Total B****?

I really do not like being angry.

I really do not like being angry.

My life hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows ever since my surgery. I have had so much pain and am suffering from sleep deprivation. The struggle to support a likeable demeanor gets tougher by the minute!  Yesterday was one of my worse days. I had not slept more than three hours per night for the last several days. Right before walking out the door to drive to work, one of my crowns broke. It is a tooth located close to the front. This created a huge dip in my self-esteem. I panic! I cannot go to work looking like a hillbilly! I tried to call in, but they discouraged. Apparently a blizzard is coming to Georgia and everyone in Coweta County is on a “milk and bread” run. So, like a trooper, I stuck the tooth back in the hole. Praying I wouldn’t swallow it. Headed to work. Dennis was nice enough to make my appointment for the next morning. When I go in, Dr. Swords finds the tooth cracked and so is the front tooth down from it. I will need either a partial or implants.  Sigh……I opt for the implants at a thousand dollars each. YIKES! Thank goodness my insurance picks up half the tab!  I got one done this morning and will have the other one done later. I had to extract, then the implant placed in. It feels very solid. I think I will like it.  However, the pain hit as I was leaving the dentist office. Wow! At least it took my mind off my left knee for a while. I was given some Prescriptions. I usually go to Lee King, or my Kroger. But since that was not convenient, I went somewhere else.

I turned the prescriptions in. Was told it would be around forty-five minutes. I shopped around awhile, then had a seat in the pharmacy area. I played word games on my phone and checked my e-mail. As I was sitting there I heard  sneezing and sniffling….the wiping of a nose. I looked up to see a tall young man, a pharm tech, counting pills, sneezing into his hand, then wiping nose with his bare hand. This went on a few minutes as I looked at the pharmacist to see if she was aware…, no clue. The other pharm techs were clueless as well.  What’s up with that?  These people deal with sick folks all the time. They should be super sensitive about prevention. I couldn’t help myself. I spoke up, and when I did I came across as a total B word. I said, “If he is counting my pills, I want him to sanitize his hands!”  Well, I guess that wasn’t that mean. I really didn’t want any sick on top of all my other issues of late. Nobody said anything to me. The girl just turned and said something to the boy. He went over and washed his hands. Then left and returned, not giving me eye contact. I feel bad that it came to that. I perhaps should have said it differently or had more sensitivity. But I feel I was right. He should sneeze into his elbow, not his hands. Really, he shouldn’t even be there if he is that sick. I guess my alter ego, Beatrice, the outspoken meaner Betty showed up today. But sometimes she is there for my own good.  That wasn’t a great experience. I guess if they think I was a, well you know….I feel they did not offer good customer care at all. So touche’.

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