Back in the Day: Credit Cards

I went to the pharmacy the other day to pick up my prescriptions. I paid with my credit card in the usual fashion: I slipped it into the chip reader and entered my code. My fingers hovered over half of the card sticking out of the machine as I waited for “approved” to appear on the screen.  I was done in seconds. If it would’ve declined, I’d have used a different card, no bother. But it wasn’t always this easy. 

In the 1980s if your credit card declined, the clerk cut up the card right in your face! I remember this one time my family was in the checkout line and the man in front of us was paying with a credit card. He wore a pastel blue blazer with rolled-up sleeves and popped collar ala Crocket and Tubbs. He rocked on the balls of his feet as the clerk scanned the pile of items on the rotating belt. An inquisitive child, I watched as the cashier went through the items, wondering what he’d make with frozen waffles, steaks, potato chips, and beer.

He held the shiny plastic card by the edges as he handed it to her, so everyone in line could see the American Express logo. That little green card was the ultimate status symbol back then–even I knew that as an eight-year-old kid.

The cashier grabbed a clunky machine from the other side of the register, put the card on the metal surface, then covered it with a slip of paper. She slid the arm back and forth, then called the number on the back of the card for verification.  She was on the phone for a few minutes punching in numbers and giving information. The man stood there nodding at people, adjusting his collar.

The next bit happened so fast that I swear I would have missed it if my chin wasn’t resting on the edge of the counter.  The cashier hung up the phone, grabbed a huge pair of black-handled scissors that had to have been the inspiration for Edward Scissorhands, and cut up that man’s card.

“Your card declined.” The cashier said once the deed was done.  She tossed the pieces in the trash. I swore I saw a hint of a smile on her face.  The man stared dumbfounded at the cashier and the scissors. He left the store red-faced and flat-collared.

Could you image a clerk destroying someone’s card for lack of funds today? I would be so humiliated! I’d have to leave the store and never come back. 

How would you react?

Eryka

On Criticism

How do you handle criticism of your work? It’s a double-edged sword most of the time. We seek out feedback on our work which opens us up to criticism. I love feedback! Good feedback helps me hone my craft and strengthens my resolve to share it with a wider audience. But that larger audience leaves me open to criticism. And by criticism, I’m talking about those people who are looking to tear down the work rather than add to the discussion–Haters. And social media seems to amplify their haterade.

What do you think?

New Book: Working the Roots!

I have wanted this book for more than a year and it finally arrived this week! In Working the Roots, Michele Lee interviews elders in the African American and Native American communities about the traditional remedies used to treat a variety of illnesses before the Great Migration.

African Traditional Religion has been maligned by Western culture for centuries, it’s time to set the record straight. this book is a must for anyone who wants to learn the true ways of our ancestors in America.

Stay tuned…

Eryka

It’s My Birthday!

Hey!

This has been quite a year! I haven’t posted much here, which I will work change next year. I finished the first draft of my first novel in September (96,000! Thank you!) And I have been working on improving my craft and building my confidence with Gotham Writers classes. I am so grateful to make another year on this life. I look forward to what the next year brings!

Also, I turned 49 today, but they don’t have any stock photo images for 49, and I’m not claiming 50 before I have to!

Eryka

50K words and counting

Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

I hit 50,000 words on my current project (it’s a novel) last Saturday and then I didn’t write a stitch for two whole days. Achieving that goal was a big deal for me because this was the highest word count I’ve ever hit on a project. In fact, this is the longest I’ve worked on a project! Those classes I took at Gotham Writers really helped.

I just needed a pause to catch my breath. I was pushing myself so hard to hit the 50K mark that when I did, I just wanted to sit back and look at it for a minute. Have you ever done that?

Since my hands like to stay busy, I started a new knitting project. I’m working on the Urban Ranch Shawl, it’s a simple garter stitch pattern that’s knit sideways. I love a sideways knit. It creates an elegant ridging throughout the fabric with a nice drape. I’m using Caron simply soft yarn in the Ocean colorway. I just started it, but I think it’s going to be quite lovely.

I’m back writing now. My average is about 1,000 words a day.  I am using the Microsoft Word dictation function, which really isn’t the same as *actual* writing, but it’s getting the words on the page and that’s all that really matters since this is a first draft, right?

Also, as I write I am stunningly aware of how little I know about drugs and drug culture. The language I use seems a bit disjointed at times. My protagonist is a narcotics officer and there are a few scenes where she is interacts with drug dealers and the language needs work.  But I can work that out in the next draft.

Progress!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

I’ve written almost every day for the past two months and I am over the moon! I’ve taken two classes with Gotham Writers this year and the feedback and encouragement helped me finally conquer the writer’s block I’d suffered with for the past few years. I am almost finished with the first draft of my very first novel and I couldn’t be happier.

Game Night-Sorry!

I went to my aunt’s house last night to pick up some toilet paper. I have tried in vain to buy my own for weeks with no luck.—let me just say, we have had shortages of vital services in this country before, like the gas shortages in the 1970’s but I have never-ever seen a run on toilet paper before. But this is a story for another day.

Anyway, when I walked into the house, I expected to see my aunt at the kitchen take with her grandsons walking back and forth with their faces buried in their phones. But this time, no one was there.

I found them in the in the dining room playing a board game. They were playing the game Sorry! to be exact. I’ve never seen black people play this game. Okay, I’ve never seen anyone play this game, but game night is a serious thing in the community and a certain level of “stank” is required when you execute dominating moves. Like playing spades, dominoes, or bid whist. If we can’t hear you playing—then you aren’t really playing.

Last night, my young cousin demonstrated the most remarkable Sorry! technique. He would flick his opponent’s piece off the board rather than placing it back at the starting circle. This was in addition to the traditional shit talking.

But no one was on the phone or looking at the television. No screens at all. Just a family enjoying each other’s company.

I watched and held my aunt’s dog Pepper on my lap. I was glad to see that family time still exists…I hope to play next time.

Eryka

Random Act of Kindness

Yesterday, a stranger sent me a surprising (and much needed) compliment on my writing. He encouraged me not to quit writing—said I should share more of my work.

I can’t tell you how much I needed this. I was ready to give up writing completely. I felt like it was going nowhere then out of the blue a stranger gives me the nudge I need to keep going.

Isn’t life wonderful?

Eryka

Sayin it

I find I cannot wait any longer for condition to be perfect for writing. I must write. My right-hand hurts terribly from writing those emails all day at work. The copying, pasting and all the scrolling takes a toll on my hands (I started to work the mouse with my left hand) so I find I don’t write anymore because I’m waiting for the pain to abate. But I can’t wait any longer

I’ve started using the dictate function in Microsoft Word 365. I’m using it right now and I must say it’s pretty good! I’m not especially close to the computer, I’m not shouting, and I’m not slowing down my rate of speech or anything!  what I’m saying and it’s appearing on the screen. Punctuation is an issue of course because I must remember to punctuate my speech. I mean, nobody walks around saying “I had this thought comma.” but if that is what I must do, then that is what I must do. There is so much swirling around in my head I must get it out. Plus, and I feel like such a **** for not doing it!

 OK why did Microsoft just bleep out the word **** Microsoft spell the word **** Microsoft will not spell the word **** this is so funny! Microsoft refuses to spell out a swear word let me see if There is a work around because if I’m going to use this for writing I’m going to be saying some **** damn and ***** all along the way!