Friday, October 31, 2014

Do I have to give candy?

Dear Prudence,
I live in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country, but on one of the more “modest” streets—mostly doctors and lawyers and family business owners. (A few blocks away are billionaires, families with famous last names, media moguls, etc.) I have noticed that on Halloween, what seems like 75 percent of the trick-or-treaters are clearly not from this neighborhood. Kids arrive in overflowing cars from less fortunate areas. I feel this is inappropriate. Halloween isn’t a social service or a charity in which I have to buy candy for less fortunate children. Obviously, this makes me feel like a terrible person, because what is the big deal about making less fortunate kids happy on a holiday. But it just bugs me, because we already pay more than enough taxes toward actual social services. Should Halloween be a neighborhood activity, or is it legitimately a free-for-all in which people hunt down the best candy grounds for their kids?
—Halloween for the 99 Percent

Last year a woman was so worried about poor, overweight children, she took it upon herself to decide which kids got candy and which she would give fruit or water. I guess she felt it was her duty to get these kids in shape. In one way, it was a noble effort. However, in other ways: it was wrong on so many levels.
First, let me tell you women, I am sure the poor kids all over America were happy you cared.
When I was a child, growing up in Palo Alto, California (not your typically poor area, believe me) I went trick or treating with the kids in my neighborhood. We would walk all over the city, ring the doorbell and shout trick or treat to whomever answered the door.
Now if you do not know about Palo Alto, it is full of Stanford University professors, lawyers, executives from Hewlett –Packard and IBM.
Now, the kids in my neighborhood? We were not the kids of those people; we were the kids of the people who worked for those people. Still no one said anything when we knocked on the door; they just dumped candy in our bags and smiled. Were rich people nicer then?
Being rich is hard. People are always asking for things.
I actually feel sorry for the writer, she says, I know I should feel like a bad person…but-
I hate to tell you, that Reese’s’ is not going to do anything but give a child a few minutes of joy: Did you think perhaps they live in neighbors where candy is a high commodity? Rent and food take priority.
In addition, you know what?  Giving the kids fruit and water because you have decided they are overweight will just hurt their psyche, and perhaps they will develop issues.
Seriously, though, I would like to thank both of you for your concern for these children. It shines right through.
For the little girl whose mom drives her over to your neighborhood, because her own is full of gangs, and drive byes…she can relax a little in your neighborhood. Luckily, her mom does not know about you, miss 99 percent.
For the little boy that had health problems, and cannot lose weight because his diet is cheap foods, rice, potatoes, his mom cannot afford the green leafy veggies that would so help his problem.
Let us kook in your own neighborhood:
How about the three year old dressed to go out to trick or treat and her mother’s boyfriend beat her to death. Because in her excitement she soiled her pants
Luckily, she is not coming to your door. You can save the candy.
If I had a chance to speak to both of you women, I would tell you this:
Kids should not hurt. Not ever. Not by words, not by hitting…
Adults should not be the cause of their pain. Lock your door, leave town, turn your light off You don’t have to give out candy …As a matter of fact spare the kids your contempt, go watch a movie.Now, go put your brooms away.
Dear 99,
In the urban neighborhood where I used to live, families who were not from the immediate area would come in fairly large groups to trick-or-treat on our streets, which were safe, well-lit, and full of people overstocked with candy. It was delightful to see the little mermaids, spider-men, ghosts, and the occasional axe murderer excitedly run up and down our front steps, having the time of their lives. So we’d spend an extra $20 to make sure we had enough candy for kids who weren’t as fortunate as ours. There you are, 99, on the impoverished side of Greenwich or Beverly Hills, with the other struggling lawyers, doctors, and business owners. Your whine makes me kind of wish that people from the actual poor side of town come this year not with scary costumes but with real pitchforks. Stop being callous and miserly and go to Costco, you cheapskate, and get enough candy to fill the bags of the kids who come one day a year to marvel at how the 1 percent live.
Credit for the letter goes to Dear Prudence publication date Oct.23, 2014 Slate mag.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Oh the places you will go, the people you will see.

you stand in the line just to hit a new low
You're faking a smile with the coffee to go
You tell me your life's been way off line
You're falling to pieces every time
And I don't need no carryin' on

Cause you had a bad day
You're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don't know
You tell me don't lie
You work at a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
The camera don't lie
You're coming back down and you really don't mind
You had a bad day
You had a bad day
Daniel Powter 

Yesterday, as I do about three days out of the week: I had to take Denise to work. This, was not a big deal, except it involved me getting up at 5:30 so she could get to work by 6:00.
I threw on clothes, threw water at my face, gave a promissory swipe to my teeth at which my toothbrush I am sure just shook its bristles at me, and went out to the car drove Denise to work. 
Stopping in front of Denny's I smelled something burning, and thought: Something is on fire, looked at the gauge and thought in horror:
 "It's me!"
I pulled the car into the nearest parking space, hopped out and popped the lid. Yes, lid. Oh all right hood.
The reservoir for the radiator was boiling over, hot with brown slush oozing out of it. 
That's not good I thought. 
Since the radiator was full, it couldn't be the source of the overheating, I checked the oil and found it didn't even register on the stick, so I quickly went in and told Denise she had to cough up some money since I had none. 
Yea, well my purse was MIA at this point.
Denise gave me the money and off I Went to Sunoco, where they happily charged me $4.99 a bottle for oil, this made me frown, but after I asked if I could buy a Icee cup for a funnel, The clerk perked up and told me they had free funnels: To make things convenient.
That didn't make up for paying $4.99 for oil I could've gotten at Wall Mart for $2.00, but it helped. 
I went out to the car, and all of these truckers were standing around their trucks, whispering and watching me. I took a quick look at myself, made sure everything was buttoned, put away and I was otherwise decent. Everything seemed ok. 
So I just shrugged and proceeded to put the oil in the car. 
The truckers watched a minute then started to get in their trucks or go about their own business, about that time the cashier came out to dispose of some garbage and I asked her what the problem was.
"Oh," she stated "don't worry, they just wanted to make sure you didn't put the oil in the wrong place." 
Wrong place?
"Yep", she said "one lady put the oil in her transmission, the truckers felt badly so now they kind of I guess check it out."
Do you have a lot of women stop here for this purpose?
"Oh yes mam," she shrugged “we run out of oil right quick. Some people just forget I guess."
So now thoroughly embarrassed I threw the oil containers away, crept into my car and drove off, only to overheat yet again, 1 block down the road. And the truckers were where? Right nowhere to be found. 
I stopped, pulled over and waited for it to cool off. Let it suffice to say, I got home this way, turning off the car at stop lights, and spending 1/2 hour at a shell station one time. But I made it. 
Eric took it to Midas, and we got the Midas touch, literally. $123.00 but the car runs.
And me? I plan to check the oil, every day from now on, just in case I am bringing a book everywhere I go. Not to mention not giving my teeth more than a promissory swipe anymore. And forgetting makeup:
You never know when you are going to run into a station full of truckers.
Well, I am single.

 Repost from 2011

Saturday, August 16, 2014

And so it goes..customers

Customer: I have an emergency, can you deliver overnight?
Me: (somewhat baffled) Emergency? I’m sorry sir what kind of Emergency?
Customer: Isn't this the place that sells the testosterone?
Me: uh, yes.
Customer: I’m 57 and my wife is 43! Can you ship overnight?

Sam Walton’s slogan was “the customer is always right,” If you have worked customer service, you know how hard it is, sometimes, to live by this rule. Some days P.T.Barnum’s “There’s one born every minute seems more of the reality.
Those of us that make our living serving customers usually come home feeling somewhere between really?? And oh no that did not happen.

I worked for Walmart, the biggest retailer in America. Every day I would hear at least one, most times more. “I hate Walmart,” I am not coming back to this store, ever!)
Only to be face to face with that same person the next day. I wonder if they think we don’t remember them.
There is something magical about the number “30”
At Walmart:
I was called from the floor to open a register:
Me: “This register is open”, choosing the next customer inline at the register on the left. (Walmart protocol)
I felt a strong breeze and a lady with short red hair, flaming green eyes in front of my register, the customer I chose is picking up onions off the floor.
I haven’t the slightest idea where she came from she wasn’t in any line I saw, She proceeded to unload her purchases on the belt, and growled at me she had
Waiting 30 minutes. I am not sure where she had been waiting thirty minutes, I hadn’t seen her anywhere.  But, at Walmart, everyone has been waiting 30 minutes even if they have only arrived at checkouts, Perhaps Scotty, tired of her attitude beamed her down.

Customer Service agents are charged with being the representatives of any company. We are how the caller/and or customer perceives the company to represent.
It is not just retail.
UPS store
Customer brings in boxed filled with electronic parts, the product is going to several different departments of the same company. The associate suggested she call the company to see if they could send the items together in one box, or they need to break it down, the customer stepped outside to call.
While the two associates were waiting, a little head popped up, and made its ways to the top of the components.
One associate slammed the box cover; her coworker quickly sealed it. When the customer came back, she told them it could go in one box. What do you do, embarrass the customer? No they took the box outside, unsealed it and repacked it..sans the cockroach.

On the other hand. a customer came in to the shipping office and wanted to have her photograph photo shopped  for so she only looked 52.

Wendy’s: Very busy day on the drive through, the associate finishes with one customer
and asks the new one to hold on for just a moment so he can clear his desk. The customer starts in with a really long order, about 15 items. The associate come back and says, thank you for waiting May I have your order please?
Customer is stunned. Do I need to repeat all of that? No, luckily the associate had his headset on and caught the order. Still, courtesy works both ways. The customer left, learning to listen to what is said and not just expect someone to be at the window,
Customers come in all shapes and sizes. For the most part they are courteous, helpful; and reasonable. But, everyone has a bad day and we, in customer service will always be here to see you through your transaction.

I guess it is just somedays you are the trashcan, and somedays you are the trash.

Do you have a customer service story? Share it please!
Pictures courtesy of: Customer service pictures and

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wheres the Light?

Where’s the light

Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light’
Professor Albus Dumbledore – Hogwarts Academy

The month of August is the worst month of the year for me. This month started the surgeries, that were supposed to prolong Sharon’s life; but instead ended it.
Even  after so many years memories flood my mind and heart. Memories of all of my kids when there were three.

I am fine one minute, overwhelmed with tears the next. The emotional turmoil is horrendous. What’s even worse is the fact, there is not anyone you can share it with. Most people feel you should move on, well those that have never lost a child anyway.

This year I was partly saved by the fact dear friends from Virginia chose this time to visit. They knew my Sharon and felt the loss with me at the time. The peace is incredible.
Don’t knock old friends. They are like a breath of fresh air when all you are seeing is fog. Old friends know things about that no one else does. They have felt your pain, they have lived with you.
This friend has lived through the infancy of my children, my divorce, the passing of my daughter, the teen delinquency of my teens, (temporary but still there) my bratty years, and still they love me
So are  you looking elsewhere for your sunshine? It’s not in your job, it’s not in money. In fact. it is not in anything material;
It’s in the people that surround you. The life-force they infuse into you when you haven’t any left, just by being there.
This month is still going to be the worse month of my life. But, someone turned on the lights for me. They came to visit and reminded me that the love of friends and family is our earthly strength.

I thank them, and I thank God.