My mom is old. Real old. Like late 80's old. However, she is fortunate in that she is relatively healthy and still able to live by herself, with the occasional help of my sister, who lives nearby.
As a lot of people realize, as you get older, that there are certain abilities that start to diminish. With my mom, it is her hearing. She's not deaf, but her loss of hearing is significant enough to a point that it bothers her and she has to make adjustments. For example, one of the adjustments she recently made was to purchase a specially amplified telephone.
In the months leading up to Christmas, mom started to mention with increasing frequency that she had a difficult time hearing her television set. And although she had closed captioning, she still preferred to hear what was being said rather than read it. The problem seemed to be that the sound from the television mixed with ambient noise from the room before it reached her ears, scattering and garbling it.
I did some research and found several products that could be attached to the audio system of the TV and transmit the sound remotely, via infrared, to a set of ear buds.
These products weren't cheap by any means, but one of the few pleasures my mother has is watching television, so Jan and I thought it would be nice to spend the money and buy her something for Christmas that she would enjoy, instead of the usual scarf or robe.
Mom seemed genuinely happy with her gift, and said she would have someone hook the earphones up for her as soon as possible. Christmas passed, as did several more weeks, and although I talked to her several times, she never mentioned the gift again. I wondered if the earphones had worked for her, so finally this past Sunday, I called her and during the conversation, I asked how the contraption had worked for her.
As it turns out, my sister had taken a look at her gift, and determined that if she used them, she wouldn't be able to hear anything else, which included my sister calling her on the phone. So they weren't used. They weren't even taken out of the box.
After squelching my urge to scream at the top of my lungs, I just said "Oh". We talked for a few more minutes and hung up. Then I did a slow burn.
So, I spent over a hundred dollars on something so it could be thrown in a drawer, unused because ... you might not hear my sister call you on the phone? I figured that the least she could have done was tell me that she wasn't going to use them. That would have given me a chance to ask if I could have them back so at least I could have used them, or at the very least, get my money back on them.
Just think of what I could have done with the money? I could have bought a weeks worth of groceries. I could have bought a hundred dollars worth of chewing gum. Hell, I could have gotten 100 plus, one dollar bills and wiped my ass with them. That would at least have been more useful that those fucking ear phones sitting in a drawer, gathering dust.
But asking for a gift to be given back is crass, even if it is your ungrateful mother, so I'll chalk this up to a learning experience. What have I learned? That next year my mother gets nothing for Christmas. In the past, I've ignored her requests that we not exchange gifts during the holiday, but next year, I'll be standing in line to suggest it first.
But I think I will get my sister something. A "Ted Kaczynsky approved" pipe bomb in a nice ochre color would be nice.