Balloons, the “Not Welcome” Sign

At Lou Fusz Subaru with Fran the Prius. Thanks, Matt
Balloons, the “Not Welcome” Sign
Fran’s the Prius’s New Adventure
My little Prius, Fran, is so confused. We headed out for oil change and inspection, but stopped much too soon, at an unfamiliar place.
“Wait, this isn’t right!”
Oh, oh, I should have explained. “Yes, it is. It’s where we’re going now.”
“Noooooo! We ALWAYS go to P’s Toyota. It’s where I started. It’s where I always go! Even the tow truck knows that.”
Actually, it goes back much further, more than thirty years of total customer loyalty to those who’ve helped me through rough patches. I remember winning deluxe tickets to a Cardinals game, which Donna took Mom to. Easy access even for Mom’s wheelchair, and she had a great time. Yeah, grateful for that, and a few months later, for their finding time to fix my Tercel so I could get to the hospital to see her. They had said there were no openings, but then found time. Did someone skip lunch? I had bonded with Fran for a year, every time I brought the Tercel for service, and was so happy when a new “floor model” meant I could buy her just when I needed to.
“Well, this is where we’re going today. You’re good at adapting. Remember going to Louisville on just one tank of gas? and Texas? and Jonesborough, TN? It’s just an oil change and inspection. Let’s see how it goes.”
“There are balloons at P.T. and I’m allergic to latex. The nice techs took me home last time, and I paid by phone, but it’s not the same, and when I called to ask for the safe environment I’d been promised, the mis-named customer service guy yelled and was insulting.”
“Oh, that’s not nice.”
“No. I’ve heard he has a reputation as a bully. Most oddly, he kept saying, ‘I know who you are.’ I wish I knew what he meant by that. He also compared a request for no balloons to the absurdity of cutting down all the trees in St. Peters because of pollen allergies.”
“Not nice at all. Okay I’ll try . . . wait, you aren’t trading me for a Subaru are you?”
“No, I hope you keep going for a long time. Oh, and you’ll like this: they have a car wash. Spa day!”
“Will we ever go back to P.T.?”
“Let’s see how this goes. It would take a sincere effort to change their ways, and probably, as one of the laid off teachers responded when asked if he’d come back from his new district, ‘Only if the new guys are really mean to me.’”
So far, Fran and I are happy at Lou Fusz Subaru, close to home, courteous staff, and competent and fair. I’ve remembered that my Corolla came from Lou Fusz in Kirkwood. My sis says Fusz is another branch of our Fussner family tree . . . so it might be a bit of a homecoming after all.
Thinking of a commercial with very cute kids and the punchline, “When you’re the best, you don’t need balloons.”
Thinking also of my first boss at Prudential saying, “The most expensive advertising is poor customer service” . . . and the best, value beyond measure, is being good to your customers, 35+ years of building a great relationship tossed in the trash by one ill-tempered bully.
When you decorate your business with latex balloons, you might mean to be festive and fun, but you are signaling “off limits/danger/not welcome here” to those of us with a latex allergy.

L.A. NSN Health Stuff

Story Musings


Lava Drink after Concert

L.A. NSN Health Stuff

Health Stuff

The hard-working Karin Hensley and the hotel’s MaryAnn Youssef made sure I was safe from latex in my room and in the restaurants. The conference committee opted to keep costs in line by not ordering constant food — reducing the “because it’s there” grazing, but giving us a very nice lunch (incentive to attend the membership meeting) and dessert reception after the Awards.  Starbucks and in-room coffee makers (once I learned to use it, third try the charm) and the gracious staff of the restaurant provided caffeine to fuel us — and the hotel buffet was substantial and delicious.  I found that one “real” meal a day was enough for me, with lighter fare and snacks for the rest . . .    (and, small bonus, came home one pound lighter 😉

When I arrived on Thursday Joyce Geary met up with me at the registration desk and kindly stayed until I finished the paperwork so she could literally guide me to the restaurant for much-needed dinner . . . what a pal!  I may not have survived the starvation of modern air travel without her help.  She even shared her sweet potato fries with me at supper Saturday, so good that by Sunday the restaurant was completely out of them.

On the way home I discovered a latex-free Burger King in the Las Vegas airport, and began a new friendship with a musician and his wife by discussing the culinary merits of food eaten when really, really hungry.  He’s looking for a new field and thought storytelling sounded promising . . . I know I found his music business stories very entertaining!

Random thought — pulling out a Lactaid for the cheesecake at the membership meeting: Wouldn’t it be nice if there were tablets to take for other kinds of intolerance?

Sleep theme continues:

Even though I tried to make sure I rested, I’ve been napping quite a bit here at home, in between errands and storytelling and writing.

Home, safe . . . tired but worth it!  It was a terrific conference.  I’ll write more when I’ve rested . . . planning to sleep late. . .

I’m back safely from the NSN conference in LA . . .

Home, tired but feeling good.  We had a workshop on the Alexander technique today — so many ways to get healthier!

Al, maybe 45 minutes of exercise, since Wednesday’s aqua-aerobics — oh, wait, all the airport walking would take that to 90 minutes surely.

I’ve been trying to convince my body to stay on California time, but now it’s even late there, so good-night.

A bit more as the coffee is brewing —  lovely, healthy buffet at the hotel (pricey . .  but not tooooooo bad).  I’m thinking that it’s the California mindset that had so many veggies and lighter foods (and human weakness that called for the luscious desserts).  I did one big meal a day and then trial mix and little stuff the rest of the time — and the beautiful fruit, saturn (doughnut?) peaches were lovely, and apricot like candy, and grapefruit so sweet . . . aaaah!  (I brought trail mix and chocolate for the flight and for snacks in the room, and at the last minute threw in a small hunk of cheese — adequate to get me through the flight there . . .)

I also unabashedly asked for help — asking a strong-looking man to pull the big bag off the carousel, and “as long as we’re both stuck here waiting for the shuttle, could you take that (latex) elastic tag off my bag for me.”  I met so many wonderful people, at the conference, of course, but also those random meetings in planes and waiting for rides . . . all wonderful!

Becky, you raise an excellent point — rest!  One of our “elder” storytellers told me one year that while “those youngsters” stay up after a day of telling stories, visiting until the wee hours, she was “wise enough to know I need to take my rest.”  I did not set wake-up calls for Friday or Saturday so I could be well rested.  I missed some stuff, but appreciated so much more the ones I was truly awake for.  I also walked out by the pool and around the block (nice little park!)  and got outside for non-recirculated air.  I slept in a bit today, got an allergy shot and groceries, napped, went through mail. . . oh, and laundry . . . did I really have all those clothes in one suitcase?

I also watched the food intake.  Past conferences fed us constantly, but this year they cut back on expenses, and I think it was better.  Heavy meals plus snacks make people drowsy.  I managed one large meal each day, and trail mix and such the rest of the time.   Before the concert, I didn’t eat supper (good lunch to provide the fuel) and ate afterward.  Eating right before a performance just doesn’t work.  If I’m telling at a dinner event, I’ll nibble at a bit of fruit, and get back to my meal after I tell.

I found a way to put photos on a screen saver pattern that looks like the placing of photos slowly down on a table overlapping each other.  Very pretty . . . and more eye-catching and thought-provoking than one steady view).


On Jul 29, 2010, at 7:30 PM, Becky Hutchison wrote:

Good luck and have fun, Mary! I know you’ll wow everybody with your storytelling prowess. Oh, and relax too. I find that I’m more busy at conferences and workshops than in my daily life, and I forget to rest, which makes it hard to function when I finally get home. So hopefully you’ll get some time to yourself too.

Becky  ;-D

It’s fun reading all these emails.  Many thanks for your good wishes.  Though I didn’t have a computer on which to read them in L.A., I felt them loud and clear!

It’s hard to manage out of one’s own space.  My email won’t send from some places, but on this trip I won’t even bring the computer.  Sitting in workshops, eating hotel food  😉

When I went to Utah right after that fall at the police station, I couldn’t sit much, so I paced the back of the room.  Maybe I’ll do that a bit.  It wouldn’t even be a lie.  My lower back and hips do hurt if I sit for too long. . .

Y’all have fun. . . back Sunday, well, so late that it will really be Monday.

BTW, check to see if I might have given you an empty CD case for Wisdom and Courage — I had one of each with me so people could see the inside, and now I only have the Frog one. . .

Aliens, Allergies, and Stories!

Aliens, Allergies, and Stories!

A neighbor once explained my multiple allergies by reasoning that I must be from another planet, and that when the “mother ship” returns for me and takes me to my proper home, I won’t have so many problems.

A storytelling friend figured out why “my people” would have abandoned me in such an inhospitable environment — to gather stories, of course! It does make sense, even though my mother swears I was born in St. Louis (she had been given castor oil to drink to hurry me along so the doctor could take his family to the Veiled Prophet Parade).

I was blessed with a father who told wonderful stories and parents who read to us.

I knew one of my books so well that my uncle thought I was really reading it at age four.

I tried to join the chimpanzees after their show at the St. Louis Zoo (imagine the stories I could have gathered there, if my mother hadn’t stopped me).

Salespeople and teachers spend much time on stories, and that first class in storytelling introduced me to the St. Louis Storytelling Festival and, from there, the National Storytelling Festival and classes at ETSU.

On one of the storytelling cruises, Nancy Kavanaugh told of her grandmother explaining the loose skin on her arms as “someplace to keep the stories,” and I find I’m even developing that trait. Yes, I was definitely sent here for the stories!

Meanwhile, for those who wish to learn more about latex allergy, go to the Latex Allergy post for some information and resources to help you out.

Latex Allergy Information

Latex Allergy

Avoidance is the only real treatment for latex allergy — stay away from latex as much as possible; especially stay away from balloons, which put latex molecules into the air as they are inflated, as they deflate, and when they POP!

Latex allergy guidelines for food — don’t handle/prepare food wearing latex gloves; don’t handle dishes with latex gloves; don’t bring balloons into room or near anyone who might be allergic to latex.  See below for safe restaurants.

Related food allergies — I must avoid these: potatos, kiwi, bananas, avocados, chestnuts. Some can’t have strawberries.

Some who are allergic to latex are also allergic to aloe vera, which is now commonly added to soap, lotions, shampoos, and other personal care products.

Visit for more information.

Dr. Peterson is a kind and gentle and skilled dentist  who has NO LATEX GLOVES!!

The St. Charles YMCA on Shady Springs Drive and the McClay Library at 2760 McClay Road in St. Charles have both banned balloons.

Margie at Gene’s Shoes on Main Street, St. Charles checks with shoe manufacturers to find safe shoes.

Decent Exposures  excellent latex-free undergarments and swimwear.

Customer service  at these businesses will carefully check for latex:


Plastibands, Sanford erasers, 3M Superior Mousing Surface Mousepads — all good.

Here’s a list of “safe” restaurants and other businesses in the St. Peters / St. Charles / St. Louis, Missouri area — but I always check each time I go in, as they sometimes change gloves and procedures. Many thanks to those willing to make a safe place to enjoy dining and visiting with friends!

  1. Casa Gallardo
  2. Cracker Barrel
  3. Crooked Tree Coffee House – 636-669-5282
  4. Culpepper’s  3010 West Clay, St. Charles  636-916-3102
  5. Cyrano’s Coffee Cafe & Dessert
  6. •Dairy Queen – 1450 Jungs Station Rd,
  7.  St Charles, MO 63303 – 636-928-1344
  8. •Denny’s – 3939 S Outer Rd #2012,  St Peters, MO – 636-928-4559
  9. •Domino’s – 45 Charlestowne Plaza,
  10.   St Charles, MO – 636-447-7070
  11. Flaco’s Cocina  8400 Delmar
  12. Grappa Grill
  13. •Jack-in-the-Box
  14. Romano’s Macaroni Grill  St. Peters
  15. Magpies
  16. •McDonald’s
  17. Miss Aimee B’s Tea Room – 636-946-4202
  18. • Miss Sheri’s         Warson Woods,

9967 Manchester Rd.   (314) 968-9995

  1. Olive Garden Italian Restaurant
  2. O’Charley’s
  3. 3995 Veterans Memorial Pkwy.
  4. St. Peters , MO 63376
  5. (636) 928-2000
  6. Outback Steakhouse –
  7. 1620 Country Club Plaza Dr,
  8. St Charles, MO – 636-940-9409
  9. •Ponderosa
  10. •Provisions
  11. Scottish Arms
  12. Sherlock’s  5373 Highway N, Cottleville
  13. St. Louis Bread Company  Not all safe, ask! (known as Panera’s in other localities)
  14. Spiro’s – 636-916-1454. Two locations: Bluestone Dr., St. Charles; Natural Bridge by UMSL (special order w/ Spiro)
  15. Steak n Shake
  16. Uno Chicago Grille
  17. Mid-Towne IGA (Julie) at 317 Hawthorne, St. Charles, MO – 636-724-6500  and now carry Better Life Products
  18. Pappas Toyota‘s waiting room