And bad customer service reigns supreme throughout the land.
At least this seems to be my life with the local gas company. For nearly 20 years I have been the unfortunate recipient of mistakes and bad customer service. Usually in the same visit. Things have gotten so bad I am more surprised when a visit goes off without a glitch. Shouldn't my experience be the opposite?
Is it too much to expect to place a phone call, discuss the price per gallon, argue over the extra fees (Come on people, a fuel surcharge fee? That's so last year. Besides, gas is the lowest its been in years--next thing you know, they'll be charging a hose connect fee to complete the delivery.), get a final total, go pay for it in person (because they overcharged your credit card on the phone), get and look at the receipt before leaving (because they put it on another account), get thanked for using their service (never happens), and expect delivery of the product in a timely fashion (if it shows up at all)? Well, is it?
Gimme a break!
If you missed the earlier tale of my bad gas experiences, you can check it out here.
In late October when the first chilly morning dawns (Chilly is subjective here, because as the MAFW, my hormones fluctuate on an hourly basis, so your definition of chilly might be slightly different. For me, it's usually noticeable frost on the windshield) I pull out the Farmer's Almanac and read their projections for the winter ahead. I also look at the local television station's long-term forecast and then take an afternoon hike searching for any woolly bear caterpillars (more brown and less black) that might be around (sometimes, old school still works best). Based on those factors and the balance in my checking account, I send out positive thoughts to anyone that might be listening (for patience and a sense of humor) and make the call.
The following conversation occurred last fall:
Rep: "Hello? Heritage Propane. Can I help you?"
Me: "Hi, I'd like to place an order for propane, please."
Rep: "Sure. Do you have an account with us?"
Me: "Yes, I do."
Rep: "Sure. What's the account number?"
Me: "I'm not sure, I don't have paperwork from last year. Can you look it up another way?"
Rep: "Sure. What's your phone number?"
I rattled off my telephone number.
Rep: "I'm sorry, I don't have you in my system. Could it be listed under another name?"
Me: "Nope. I've had the same name for 48 years."
Rep: "Sure." (What is it with the sure?) "Let me check again? Could you repeat the number?"
Check back for part two on Monday!
Friday, February 26, 2016
Posted by Gianetta at 11:19 AM
Monday, February 22, 2016
****Read this story again before I post the latest exchange with the gas company.****
Recently, a friend of mine was disgusted by the amount that she had to pay to purchase propane for her home in Virginia. I immediately knew how she felt because I have been battling with my propane provider for years and not just about price.
I thought I had already written about this crap but after checking back through the archives I only found a draft and not the actual finished piece. (Not sure why I never finished it.) Probably, because no one would actually believe it, I guess.
To keep it short and to the point, whatever could go wrong with ordering a tank of propane has gone wrong for me.
Here are a few examples:
I ordered gas and it never got delivered. (This happened three times.)
I left them a check taped to the inside of the lid of the tank but they wouldn't leave the gas because they couldn't find a check.
I ordered gas and they put it in the neighbor's tank.
They billed me for it and threatened to send it to collections before I could convince them about the mistake.
For over five years, they had one of the meanest customer service representatives that you could imagine. (She was finally fired.)
The new rep that replaced her listened to my stories of previous mishaps and assured me that those mistakes would never happen again. They had gone through several training classes and had a completely new staff. (She then used my account number for the lady that came in at the same time as me. Good thing I checked my receipt before I left. It took over 20 minutes of voiding and searching to get that mess straightened out.)
One could think that I was making all of this up because it all seems so impossible that the mistakes would keep happening. But, I'm not and it's always an adventure when I need to purchase fuel for my furnace. I do have to admit that the last three visits have been mishap free. (I guess that training paid off.)
Now, when I go I no longer begin my conversation with, "My name is Palmer and I've had some problems in the past." I just give my info and they ring me up.
Today was a little different. The woman that replaced the mean lady was there and had two new helpers. As I was waiting for one of the newbies to ring me up I mentioned about the price that Amerigas was charging my friend in Virginia which was $4.58 a gallon. My company is Heritage Propane and I was charged $2.29, which is substantially less. All three heads swiveled and looked at me when I mentioned the price and then they all looked at each other.
"I think they pay more up north and down in Florida," the lady I knew said.
"Yeah, I think you're right," another said. "It's probably because of the salaries; they make a lot more than we do."
Sounds reasonable to me.
The new lady rang up my purchase without any problems and I left them with a chipper "Goodbye and I hope to not see you again this year." We all laughed and I grabbed one of their 2015 calendars and headed out to the car.
Glancing down at the calendar I was surprised to see the Amerigas logo on it. Oh, no, when did that happen? My company was no longer small and independent. Maybe that was why the three women looked at me so funny when I mentioned the higher price up north.
I don't know, maybe the higher prices up north are paying for all of the training down here because it's been over two years since they messed up my account.
Good for me, but bad for my friend. On the bright side, I hear they are predicting a warmer and shorter winter for the northeast.
Friday, February 19, 2016
|I'm mentioned a few conversations with Mom over the past years and there are more than enough to fill up a book if I ever took the time to write anything down. Mom has a way with dry one liners that make you think and make me jealous. Why didn't I think of that is a thought I have all the time when we're around each other?
Here is one of our recent conversations:
Mom likes to laugh but she isn't one of those that has a loud, boisterous laugh. You know the type--the one you can hear two blocks away. Mom is more of a snorter or harrumpher--you can tell it's a laugh, but it's brief and onto the next subject.
Recently, something got a hold of us--I think it was the lady wearing a clown suit at the restaurant we were at and the circus wasn't even in town. This lady had the nose, the shoes, a horn and was zonking other diners every time she went to the buffet which seemed every few minutes (Not that I was keeping track.). She finally caught our gaze and walked up to Mom and gave her a big old zonk and we both lost it.
I don't know how long we laughed, but we couldn't breathe because we got so tickled. I was finally able to manage "I'm tickled" before losing it again.
Mom, on the other hand had managed to pull herself together long enough to make this statement: "I'm so tickled, I think I tinkled myself." We lost it again.
I'm so tickled, I think I tinkled myself has to be the funniest thing I've heard all winter. I tried to remember hearing the line said that way before--I'm sure it has--but I couldn't remember ever hearing it.
Later, in the car I asked her where she came up with the line. She thought for a moment and said, "I don't know. Until today, I've never needed it before. Ladies in clown suits in buffet restaurants--that's something you don't see everyday?"
Unexpected events can happen any time. Pay attention. Be open to whatever. And most of all, have a sense of humor. Life's too short not to...you might just want to pack a change of clothes...just in case.
Posted by Gianetta at 9:36 AM
Monday, February 15, 2016
Posted by Gianetta at 2:31 PM
Sunday, February 14, 2016
Thursday, February 11, 2016
|*****I had the idea for this column while taking a walk. Why not write an essay featuring the top 50 Classic Rock Songs of all time? I used this site to compile the list. I've italicized the song titles and only changed a few words here and there. Instead of using the title Sultans of Swing, I used the band's name which we all know is Dire Straits. Special thanks to my friend Gina Barreca for the last line. Hope you enjoy it!*****
"Imagine so?" he replied.
"You're fortunate, son that I don't arrest you now. What's your name?" she asked.
"Thomas Sawyer. But folks call me Tom."
"Hmmm. This photograph doesn't look like you. Where you headed?" asked the officer.
He thought for a moment before answering, "I'm going to LA, woman!" he said sharply pounding his hands on the steering wheel.
"Calm down, son. LA? You better get on a rocket, man, because I've got more than a feeling that you aren't headed for LA."
"Haven't you ever wanted to go your own way?" Tom asked.
"All right now," she said. I know school's out for summer, but I wasn't born to run around like you youngsters do these days. This job has a stranglehold on me. I know that I'm an African American woman and I carry a lot of sweet emotion around with me, but my heart got broke this morning. My son, that sweet, child of mine told me point blank this morning that he wanted to move back to sweet home Alabama. Why would he want to do that?"
"Sometimes, you have to turn the page," he said simply.
They were quiet for a moment and Tom stroked the package lying on the front seat of the car. "What's that?" asked the officer.
"It's a Kasmhir sweater for my girlfriend, Layla," he said.
"Layla? Is that why you're leaving La Grange? Is she in LA?"
"I think so. My home boys were back in town last week and said they saw her in some dive called Baba O'Riley's singing after midnight. She was supposed to head home that day after her audition, but now I'm paranoid that she's decided to stay," Tom said.
Well, kid, don't stop believing, you gotta live and let die and keep on like a rolling stone," said Officer Roxanne.
That sounds like a day in the life of a rock star," said the young man.
Nope. Just the daily crazy train I ride every day running after folks like you," she said with a tight smile.
"I'm sorry, Officer. But, this Valentine's Day sucks. Layla has me freefalling so hard that I feel I'm like smoke on the water. Just ready to float away...
They were quiet for a moment.
She's a damn barracuda! I need some help," he said with tears in his eyes.
"Is that why you had the cocaine?" she asked. "Were you going to sell it? Or get comfortably numb?"
"I was going to sell it," he said. I figured everybody wants some."
"Sorry, son. You're too young. Hell, you're not even old enough to be back in black. You've got your whole life to rock and roll all night. Maybe you just need to forget about Layla?
"She was the first person to tell me I feel like makin' love. She feels this space, oddly enough, that no one has been able to fill. I want you to want me is our favorite song. She liked Bohemian Rhapsody but we heard it so often that it got on our nerves."
"Now you're rambling. Man, we have got to find you someone new. And closer." She watched him yawn again for the hundredth time. "When was the last time you closed your blue eyes and let the black water of sleep flow over your troubled mind."
"I don't know," said the young man.
"You've got to enter the Sandman," she said. "And at my age, you can't fear the reaper, either," she said with a laugh.
"I've no place to go," he said. "Can you give me shelter?"
"You see up along the watchtower back by the prison gate?" she asked pointing to the far side of his car.
"No. Can you show me the way?" he asked looking in that direction.
"Are you sure, son? It is Valentine's Day," she said.
Realization began to sink in for the young man; he was in dire straits. He wouldn't be rocking in the free world for a very long time. To hell with Layla, he knew he wasn't going to the Hotel California. She definitely wasn't the sunshine of his love.
"I'm ready, Officer. This is just what I needed. I'm sorry about your son."
Officer Roxanne smiled at him as she placed the cuffs on him. "That's okay, son. I think the both of us needed this conversation today. As a wise old friend told me, it might not be the Hotel California, but at least you tried, and didn't end up in Heartbreak Hotel."
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
On a recent trip to visit my sister in Dayton, Ohio, I made the discovery of all discoveries regarding the sampling of food items in the local grocery store. A new Kroger had opened up near her and it had everything one could possibly need--all in one place. It had the normal things that you find in a grocery store, but it also has a furniture department, a jewelry store, a large toy section, several large appliances could be found for sale, and I'm not sure, but I think I saw a used car lot out back.
In a store this big, one can only imagine the food selection that is available. Every ethnicity that you could imagine had its own section. The Hispanic section offered so many kinds and flavors of chilies that I lost count. The Oriental section had many kinds of rice and the different sauces to cook them in. Over in the India section was curry-flavored this and dozens of kinds of incense for which to dine by. It was sensory overload.
The meat department not only had a terrific selection of meats, but they also had someone that was preparing certain kinds of meats that you could try--almost a try it before you buy it.
The bakery department had such a huge selection of doughnuts, cakes, and pastries that I almost passed out from the sight of it all.
And the pie`ce de resistance was the cheese section. Have I ever mentioned that I love cheese?
Well, almost all kinds--Limburger cheese is an acquired taste and I've yet to acquire it, so I can't claim all. They had every imaginable kind of cheese that you could imagine and still others that I had never imagined. The section was staffed, too, so you could try a sample. And another plus, because as much as I want to pay $57 for a pound of Extra Sharp Vermont Mountain Cheddar imported from Holland, at this point in my life it doesn't seem quite practical.
Maybe if I win the Lottery!
Having become distracted by the cheese section, I almost forgot about the Deli section. There were various flavors of chips and dips to try. You could get a sub sandwich made on the spot, have a bowl of soup or get a plate lunch from the ready-made foods. Heck, they even had an area where you could sit down and eat your purchase without ever leaving the store.
I was in awe. They just don't have stores like this where I live.
My sister looked at my slack-jawed expression and said, "You think this is something, wait until we come back tomorrow."
"Why? What's happening tomorrow?" I asked.
"Have you not been paying attention?" she asked. "This is the worst possible time of day if you want to check out the samples. They've all been sampled already. The only thing left is just crumbs and pieces. We're going to get here about 10:00 am in the morning. That's usually the time they have all of the samples out."
We continued on our visit through the store picking up the few items that were on her list. On more than one occasion I found myself drifting over to a display case where a sample container was located. Sure enough, she was right, there wasn't anything left but crumbs and pieces. I locked eyes with my sister and she mouthed these words to me, "Wait until tomorrow."
The next day we were up early in anticipation of our visit to the grocery store. I was surprised when we pulled into the parking lot at just how many cars were already there. "Are they having some kind of big sale?" I asked innocently.
"No," my sister replied. "They are here for the samples."
And indeed they were.
Normally, when shopping with my sister, every aisle and every shelf must be visited. You never know when or where you will find something on sale. But not this time, we went straight to the back of the store where the first of many sample containers was located. The gentleman was handing out samples of Filet Mignon. Yes, you heard me, Filet Mignon. "Sample, madam?" he said in a distinguished British accent offering me a bite-sized tidbit.
"Thank you," I said accepting his offer.
"Hello, Clive," said my sister.
"Ah, Miss Teresa, it is excellent to see you again. How are you this fine morning?"
"Just lovely, Clive. Allow me to introduce my baby sister, Gianetta Mia Palmer; she's visiting from Georgia."
Clive smiled warmly at me and bowed stiffly, "My pleasure to make your acquaintance. What a lovely name you have. How are you finding our weather? Quite cold, isn't it?"
"Thank you. Yes, a bit colder than I expected."
"Indeed. I see you made it in time to partake of the samples.
"Yep, I sure did. We don't have any stores like this where I live."
"Splendid. I won't keep you then. I'm sure the regular crew is already here and are sampling way more than they should," he said with a chuckle. "Good Day!" he continued. "And here's one more for the road," offering us another sample of the Filet Mignon.
"He's very nice," I said. "What did he mean about the regular crew?"
"The regular crew is those people that come here every day just for the samples. They never buy anything they just eat all the samples. That's how Clive and I met--we loved sampling the Filet Mignon, but the regulars would always eat everything before we would get a chance. It upset Clive so much that he filled out an application one day and started working the next. Within a few weeks, he was in charge of handing out the samples in the meat department and I've had Filet Mignon ever since."
"Wow! That's great! Come on, I want to check out the cheese department before all of the samples are gone."
My sister smiled and looked at me. "No need to worry about that. I'm on a first-name basis with the lady that hands out the samples there, too. Sometimes, it does matter who you know," she said with a grin.
Posted by Gianetta at 11:31 AM
Monday, February 8, 2016
|*****I'm super thrilled to have a special guest post from the fabulous Vikki Chaflin and we're having a BIG GIVEAWAY. Check out this great story from Vikki's book and read on for details on the giveaway.*****
Doctor, Can You Give Me a Lift?
When I was in my late 40s, I decided to get my breasts lifted. I didn't want them bigger. Just higher. Back up where the good Lord put them before gravity and age began to coax them closer to my naval than my clavicles. There's just something about looking in the mirror every morning to two sad beagle ears attached to your upper torso that screams "National Geographic, the Pictorial Edition." Not to mention that most of my friends had implants or lifts 10 years earlier, so even women older than me had younger-looking bodies because they were, well, perky, and I looked more like a 60s love child that hadn't worn a bra since puberty.
So armed with photos of young starlets and their "up to there" breasts, I made an appointment with a well-recognized plastic surgeon to discuss my options. I entered his plush office, with its thick carpet and quietly cascading waterfall in the corner, where his impossibly perfect receptionist guided me back to the softly lit exam room (for which I would thank God in the next half hour), and she flashed me a bright smile as she instructed me to remove my shirt and bra, and wait for the doctor.
20 minutes later, Doc walks in (is it me, or do they all look 12 years old??) introduces himself and, obviously not into foreplay, reaches over and lifts one breast, checking for "bounce." (Say hello to the point, you arrogant puppy. If they still BOUNCED, I wouldn't be here), then lets it go, where it promptly slams back down onto my chest like a wrecking ball taking out a high rise.
Then he sticks a piece of blue litmus-type paper underneath one, waits several seconds, and pulls the paper out to check for skin-on-skin contact, which would show up as "light moisture." The paper looked like a Bounty Quicker Picker Upper. By now, my self-esteem has fled the building (presumably looking for the closest bar, which was where I was headed as soon as I could find my bra.) Then he stuck a large piece of white paper underneath both breasts and TRACED THEM. The final picture looked like two carrots lying on a table. I was so mortified by then, I hardly noticed the up close and personal Polaroids that he took. One for each carrot. Oh. My. God.
When he finally finished his exam, I stammered out that I'd read about a procedure where they could go in from the armpit and pull the ligaments up, which was less invasive and left fewer scars. Without missing a beat, he replied, "That would work if you'd come in 10 years ago. You're way past that now," at which point he calmly left the room, with instructions to make an appointment on my way out. Yeah, no. I scrambled into my clothes and headed home like an old plow horse to the barn. When I explained why I was so upset, Hubs asked, "Why do you even want to do this?? Why don't you just wear one of those shove-em-up bras?" I explained that that only worked until I took the bra off, then everybody would know what they really looked like.
"Who the hell is EVERYBODY??" he choked out. "How many people are you thinking will be in the room whenever you take your bra off?" Well, after today, I would say nobody. EVER.
I ultimately decided the lift was not for me. My boobs and I would grow old together, and when I die, Hubs knows to bury me in my best sports bra. $85 a pop and virtually guaranteed to hold the sisters in place long enough for friends to sigh, "And she was so young."
Exciting news: Vikki Claflin, author of “Who Stole the Cork Out of My Lunch?”, and I are co-sponsoring a fabulous new book giveaway called “The Big Booty Book Bundle Giveaway!” It’s FIVE books by talented female writers that will keep you laughing out loud. And it’s free! For details and to enter, click http://laugh-lines.net/its-here-the-big-booty-book-bundle-giveaway-edition-1
Vikki Claflin writes the award-winning blog, Laugh Lines, where she doles out irreverent advice on marriage, offers humorous how-to lists galore, and shares her most embarrassing midlife moments. She shows us how to master midlife with laughter and common sense. Check out more of Vikki’s hilarious writing in her newest book, Who Left the Cork Out of My Lunch? Middle Age, Modern Marriage & Other Complications. Available at Amazon.com, B&N, and iTunes. You can also find her at http://laugh-lines.net
Posted by Gianetta at 10:13 AM
Thursday, February 4, 2016
I've lost track of the trophies that I've won over the years. I do remember that they were from a variety of events and not just one particular specialty.
There were the numerous sports trophies, with wins in basketball, softball and track.
I played baritone in the band and have a trophy or two for that.
I won the ping pong tournament at school one year and got another shiny piece of metal.
I won a tennis tournament at church camp (Not sure how I managed that one; the other player must have been really bad because I could barely hit the ball over the net more than one time in a row.) and received a small trophy for that.
One fall, at one of the local town festivals I entered the greased pig contest. And won! And yes, I received a handsome trophy with a shiny silver pig on the top. (Dad was especially proud of that one.)
I was also in 4-H and had the Grand Champion fair rabbit my senior year of high school. Rainbow was a French-lopped rabbit with the biggest ears and feet you've ever seen; he was big and had a great personality. I received another shiny trophy with a rabbit on the top. (I think that was my favorite of all of them.)
I know I won a few more, several for academic accomplishments and I think even one for bowling.
In a lot of situations, the kids grow up and move out of the house. Their childhood room remains pretty much the way they left it, filled with mementoes and memories until they are well into adulthood.
This wasn't the case for me. I graduated from high school and my mother moved out the next day. She had lost her job, but still managed to get her youngest child through school before heading off into the sunset. Dad moved to Georgia a few months later and left us three kids, plus a new sister-in-law alone in the old house on Cherry Fork Road.
The first thing my new sister-in-law tried to do was redecorate the house in a style that fitted her tastes. And the first thing she decided to decorate was the mantle in the living room. Guess what was sitting on the mantle in the living room?
Now instead of my trophies filling up the room with all of my glorious accomplishments, there were candles and knick knacks. Bric a brac, whatnots and plain old crap--not a trophy in sight. "Where are my trophies?" I asked.
"I wanted to redecorate," she said.
"I don't care what you change, but the trophies aren't going anywhere," I said and proceeded to remove all of the junk. "The trophies are staying," I said again. "Where are they?"
"I put them in a box," my sister-in-law of four months said.
It wasn't a very smooth beginning to our relationship.
Over the next two years, the mantle started to overflow as I continued to achieve successes in various events. When it came time for me to move south to further my education, I remember being saddened as I now packed my trophies into a box to move south. This part of my life was now over--the part of coming home with a new trophy, showing it to mom and dad, and having mom place it on the mantle.
We didn't have a mantle in the house in Georgia. For a few months after I moved south, things were so busy getting me off to school, plus all of us working lots of overtime hours, the trophies continued to sit in the box in which they were moved. One weekend, when I came from college, Mom took me in the spare bedroom and showed me a wonderful surprise. She had built two shelves along one side of the room and they were filled with all of my old trophies. I was delighted. Elated, to be more precise.
Over the years, the trophies remained there as I went to college and then off into the work force. I never really lived with my parents in the new house--mainly through college breaks and sometimes in the summer.
It was a small house, only two bedrooms, and when my brother (minus his wife) moved to Georgia, he took up residence in the other bedroom. I'm not sure how long the trophies remained there but I know it was probably a dozen years or more. One day I came to visit and they weren't there any longer. "I'm thinking about doing some remodeling," mom said. "I put your trophies in a box. I hope you don't mind."
"I don't mind. Maybe, I'll take them and put them up in my house," I said.
More time passed and eventually the trophies became forgotten. Mom and I were sorting through some old boxes and came upon the old box filled with my childhood accomplishments. "I thought you took these with you," she said.
"I forgot all about them," I said. We looked through the box and reminisced about Rainbow, the rabbit, playing in the band and wrestling a greased pig. "What should I do with these old trophies?" I asked.
Mom thought for a moment, "Well, you can take them if you want too, but they aren't hurting anything by sitting in this box. I'll just clean them up and put them back away. It's too bad you kids didn't get to stay around where you grew up. It would have fun been keeping your rooms the way they were. We did it backward, didn't we?" she asked.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Well, you kids grew up and me and your dad moved away," she replied.