Paul Ruffin's Blog


by pauldruffin


Dear Whoever Gets This Letter of Complaint at

Let me begin by telling you how much I have enjoyed shopping with you folks since I placed my first order in January of 1998: Bonney’s Place, by Leon Hale. (THIS WAS LONG BEFORE I BECAME A CRIPPLE.)

When I was growing up, we had essentially two ways of buying most things: go to town and purchase it in a store or order it from the Sears catalog and wait a couple of weeks for it to arrive by U.S. mail. I must say that I find your web site a bit more enticing than the Sears catalog, albeit the catalog did have what for me at the time was a most interesting lingerie section (with formidable-looking corsets, high-rise panties that revealed nothing much of female anatomy, and bras fashioned of what appeared to be heavy metal wire and canvas), and people could buy a Savage Over-and-Under .22/.410 for less than forty bucks. I could also look at the catalog without electricity.

Over the past few years I have ordered from you with greater and greater frequency, since your prices are good and I generally have to pay neither sales tax nor shipping. Since my back surgery in January of this year and the subsequent months of recovery from nerve inflammation, I have been especially grateful for the convenience you have provided me.

I have filed very few complaints in the fifteen years I have shopped with you, but get ready: I am about to complain big-time.

According to Amber, my wife, and with me in firm agreement, I make very good spaghetti. My base sauce in Paul Newman’s Marinara, which Amber usually buys at Kroger a couple of jars at a time.

Lately I’ve been buying quite a few spices and canned meats from y’all, so I decided that I would take a little of the grocery-shopping burden off her and purchase ten jars of the marinara sauce and five one-pound boxes of spaghetti from you. And this I did, initiating the drama in our household that has led to this complaint.

The ten jars of Paul Newman Marinara Sauce arrived one day in two large cardboard boxes. I say LARGE: approximately 16” by 18” by 22”, each spacious enough to ship a half-grown hog in, with padding. I brought them in from the porch one at a time, since I AM CRIPPLED AND HAVE TO USE A ROLLATOR TO WALK. The jars of sauce, five in each mammoth box, were wrapped in a thin sheet of plastic taped at the top and laid side by side in the very bottom of each box. There was no padding beneath the jars or between them, though the boxes were completely filled with bubble wrap (bubbles the size of a baking potato), protecting the jars from anything short of a rifle round from the top and ends.

Now, the UPS guy put the boxes on the porch with reasonable care, but somewhere along the way, one of the jars did what glass jars do when they are slammed together. At’s right, Bubba: That jar busted into somewhere around 1272 pieces of glass, though I am guessing here.

Sooooo, I fished the four unbroken jars out of the box, having to work through marinara sauce and glass up to the elbows to do it, in the process nicking two fingers, and rinsed them off at the sink. Then I emptied the other box, whose jars miraculously survived the trip intact, and wedged the one with the marinara sauce and glass all in the packing down into it. All the while, of course, marinara sauce was dripping onto the kitchen and dining room floor. I had to mop all that up. (WHEN YOU ARE CRIPPLED, BENDING OVER TO MOP UP MARINARA SAUCE REALLY HURTS!).

I fished some of the broken glass out of the box but couldn’t hope to get all of it out, so I decided to put both boxes on the burn pile. We already had a lot of boxes out on a big mound of limbs, so I calculated that a good hot fire would burn up the sauce and melt the glass. Amber has a genuine fear of broken glass, a fear going back to her days as a vet tech when she observed what glass can do to a dog’s intestines.
Well, I picked the boxes up and balanced them on my rollator the best I could. Big boxes, remember. Otherwise I had to drag them a few feet, move the rollator up, drag them a few more feet, etc.

Of course they immediately fell off the rollator, and of course the box with the broken marinara jar fell upside down, dumping out all the sauce-soaked packing and pieces of glass. I had to put the saucy packing back in the box and rollate over to the shop area of the carport and find a shovel and scrape up all the glass and sauce so that the dog wouldn’t get into it. (WHEN YOU ARE CRIPPLED, BENDING OVER TO SCOOP UP MARINARA SAUCE REALLY HURTS!). I finally got everything dumped back into the box and started dragging them over to the burn pile, a few short steps at a time.

When I finally got close enough, I decided that the safest thing to do was throw the box with the sauce in it way up on top so that the dog couldn’t reach it. I grabbed both the boxes, the saucey box wedged down in the other, and slung them AS HARD AS A CRIPPLE CAN, and naturally the boxes caught on one of the limbs and fell back, inverted, and all the sauced packing and glass fell out onto the ground.

Once again I got shoved the sauce-soaked packing back into the box and with the shovel scooped up a layer of dirt, with sauce and glass and threw it into the box. (WHEN YOU ARE CRIPPLED, BENDING OVER TO SCOOP UP MARINARA SAUCE REALLY HURTS!) Then I heaved the two boxes AS HARD AS A CRIPPLE CAN, and they landed on top and stayed. Yay! I finally felt like I had dodged that bullet. Amber wouldn’t even have to know about it.
Next morning while she was out with the dog, she saw him over by the burn pile looking guilty and discovered him hovering over some sauce and glass that I had apparently missed, or it had fallen out of the box later. By that point the last thing I wanted to hear was ANYTHING about that marinara sauce.

Sooooo, the next day I went out with the tractor and front-end loader–I can rollate out to the tractor and get on it and drive it—and graded the area around the burn pile and shoved everything up as compactly as I could. The next day we soaked the pile with diesel fuel and burned it completely.

Meanwhile, Amber was on poop watch to make certain the dog didn’t ingest any glass. After two days of vigil she came in with a baggie and showed me a small piece of glass she had discovered in his poop, along with pieces of the plastic the jar had been wrapped in. Then she was on serious poop watch.

Sooooo, the next thing I had to do was ROLLATE OUT TO THE SHOP—I AM A CRIPPLE, REMEMBER!—and drag myself onto the tractor and gouge up two inches of dirt all around the burn pile and dump it on top of the pile and then dump fresh dirt from the garden on top of that. I call the pile Marinara Mountain now.

Fortunately the dog appears not to have been injured by the glass, thankyouJesus, but consider all the anxiety we went through—AND RECALL THAT I AM A CRIPPLE—because some idiot packed those jars like that. Perhaps he thought that they were made of plastic and the distinct clanking sound of the glass didn’t register. Perhaps he thought . . . . My bet is that he DIDN’T think.

Amazon is crediting our account for the cost of the jar of sauce, but I don’t really think that’s enough. I think that they should track down the guy (or woman, though I doubt that a woman would do anything that stupid) who packed those jars in the two boxes and fire him on the spot. THAT WOULD SATISFY THIS CRIPPLE.


  1. Joe Shaw says:

    You forgot to mention two other uses for the Sears and Roebuck catalog. One, was in the little house with the quarter moon cut in the door. The other was watching men roll a homemade cigarette from a piece of a page from the catalog, and then light it over a coal oil lamp, Fascinating. You can’t do either of those activities with!

  2. Elizabeth Ethredge says:

    I can assure you that the person that filled your order was part of the “modern generation” that did not have a Youtube video to watch on their phone with proper instructions. You see, it is hard to view those videos from a pants pocket when your employer has told you not to be on your cell. I know, I have been teaching high school for the last 8 years, and they can’t think themselves out of a box. No pun intended.

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