Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Tough Times...Part I...Year VII

I had to go to Walmart the other day to pick up a few things I needed and took my cart over to the checkout lanes when I finished. Of course, all of the lines were extremely long so I just settled into line behind a little old lady that closely resembled my late Granny.

"Oh, my goodness!" she exclaimed. "I don't know how these people can get away with charging three dollars for a loaf of bread. I'm just a little old lady on a fixed income and I can't afford these prices. I stayed at home my whole life caring for my husband and my children only to be left nearly penniless by some fat cat insurance company in New York. Health Care reform, I think that's what they are calling it. A thousand dollars a month for health insurance, who would pay that? I was hoping to have an easier time in my Golden Years and now I can barely afford food for me and my handicapped son. I had to leave him out in the car because I upset him when I get to complaining about these prices. I don't mean to, but I'm doing the best I can."

"I'm sorry to hear that," I said. I felt sorry for the lady, I really did. Times are tough all over. I knew exactly how that lady felt about those astronomical premiums, I've been paying them myself.

It was finally her turn to begin placing her items up on the register belt and she began talking to the cashier and pointing to me in a friendly manner. I wasn't really paying attention to what they were talking about. I had just discovered a copy of The Global Wacko News that had Tim Ruse on the cover saying that he was the reincarnation of Lon R Cupboard and was trying to convert the world into his new class of Cosmetology that would be opening new centers worldwide whenever he had another hit movie and earned enough money to do so. (Good luck with that.)

The little old lady kept gesturing and smiling at me. I didn't want to be rude so I gave a little half-smile and nodded in agreement to whatever they were so animated about. You know what I'm talking about. When somebody tells a joke and you laugh along anyway even though you don't get it.

By now, there was enough space on the belt for me to begin placing my purchases alongside the lady's items. My first item was a huge 16-roll pack of toilet paper that was on sale and it separated my things from hers. It also separated me from her as she gave another wave and headed out the door.

"That was awfully nice of you," said the cashier. "Your Great Aunt said you was going to pay for her groceries. That will be $88.32."

"Excuse me..."

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Tale Of A Lost Car Tag...The Whole Story


I received my official Georgia 2016 car tag (usually comes in a blue envelop), three weeks late and in a handwritten unofficial envelop from a fellow in Chicago that said he received it by mistake.




Scam?


Mistake?


Post Office screw up?


In another time, I would have chalked it up to clerk error at the local office but with identity theft all the rage now, it looks like I will need to go to the courthouse and see what's up.


Courthouses aren't a place that I spend a lot of time in--we have a new courthouse where I live and I've only been there one time--to renew my passport--but the last time I had to get any documentation about my car, that's where I went.

Parking is usually an issue up town, so imagine my surprise when I pulled into a spot right in front of the building. I gathered all the information--the letter I received from Illinois, last year's tag, my insurance card, my driver's license and was almost inside when I realized I forgot my reading glasses. I can't read anything closer than 24 inches--that's as far as I can reach with my arm (I measured)--without my glasses and figured I'd be reading all sorts of fine print before I got this latest bad customer service experience straightened out and went back and got them. If you're new to the blog you can check out my experience with the gas company and bad haircuts in earlier posts.

I retrieved my glasses, side-stepped a man-hole (I never step on those) and made my way to the front of the courthouse. The door gave notice that no firearms or weapons of any kind were permitted and I didn't give it another thought. Another surprising fact was that I was the only person around--I always thought the tax office was a hopping place.

Two officers swung into action when I walked inside. I placed my keys inside my purse and placed it and the paperwork into the gray plastic bin provided by the officer manning the x-ray machine. The other officer motioned me through the metal detector--it didn't beep (but I did make the sound in my head) and giving me a nod and smile stepped back to his place along the wall.

I waited for the bin to come through the x-ray and saw the officer frown slightly. He shook his head and then ran the tub through the machine again. "What's that?" he asked.

I looked at the screen, "That's my medical bag--it looks like a syringe."

"No, I can see that. This item right here," he said pointing to a dark spot.

I looked at the screen. For a moment, the thought "items appear closer (bigger) than they are", you know, what's written on car rear view mirrors popped into my head. "It could be a bottle of glucose," I said. I knew I had one in there and I didn't see it on the screen.

"No, it isn't that. It's right here," he said pointing to another, better defined blob.

"Hmmm, it could be a Chapstick," I said. "You're more than welcome to search it." Who knew I had such a large amount of suspicious-looking contraband in my purse?

"It looks like a knife," he said.

"Could be nail clippers. Does that count as a knife?"

"No, it doesn't," he said giving me a look.

"You can search it. I don't mind." (They must be bored)

"I think it's okay. Have a nice day," he said dismissing me.

I picked up my purse and smiled at the other officer. "Thanks, y'all have a good one. Is the tag office still in the basement?"

"Nope. It moved. Only thing here is court-related issues and court isn't in session this week. You gotta go to the old hospital for tax issues...

...Well, now I had the answers to several questions.

Court wasn't in session.

The tag office had moved.

And the cops WERE bored.

I walked back out to the car lost somewhere between my bad luck with customer service and an insane desire to know what the suspicious-looking object was inside my purse. I was rummaging around in the bag, not paying attention when I stepped off the curve and landed just to the right of the man-hole cover which threw off my balance and sent me and everything in my purse flying all over North Main Street.

I'm not as spry as I used to be, but I somehow managed to avoid the man-hole but ended up with my hand touching what was either mud or fecal matter of some kind. (I resisted the urge to sniff my hand.) After ascertaining that I was all right, my next response was to look around to see if anyone had witnessed my misstep and was relieved when I saw nothing except a puzzled pigeon that was now pecking at something that had fallen out of my purse. I stood up slowly and shooed the bird away as I picked up what had fallen out of my bag. The pigeon was poking around at a small package of Tums that I hadn't seen before. Maybe, that was the suspicious-looking contraband?

I used my one clean hand to gather up the rest of my belongings, opened the car door and sat down inside. Checking myself in the mirror, I reached to push my hair back and didn't catch myself before the dirty hand brushed my hair back into place. Yuck. It definitely wasn't mud.

Sometimes, shit happens, but luckily, I had a brand new container of Handi-wipes in the car and was able to exchange the poopy smell to one just as bad. Why do those things smell so bad? Thankfully, I didn't really notice anything in my hair, except a certain slicked-down area where my hand had been.

The old hospital--now the new administrative annex--was only a mile from downtown so I was there in a short time. I gathered all of my items again, minus the small package of tums (no need to look suspicious at the next x-ray machine) and went inside the building. I was surprised that there wasn't any security at the front door except the same sign prohibiting firearms and knives (I didn't have any) and followed the signs to the tag office.

I waited in line for a few minutes before a nice lady waved me over. The following is our conversation:

Clerk: "Hey. What can I do for you?"

Me: "Hey. Well, (placing the letter from Illinois on the counter) I finally received my car tag, and in the past, it only took three days, but this time it came from someone in Chicago and took three weeks."

Clerk: "What?"

Me: "This is what my car tag came in," (showing the letter) "Don't you guys use the blue envelops any longer?"



Clerk: "Yes, we do." She picked up the letter and examined it closely.

Me: "You can just make it out where somebody wrote 'Vehicle registration mailed to me' under the barcode,'" I said pointing it out to her.

Clerk: "Chicago? How in the world..."

Me: "That's what I thought."

Clerk: "How did it get to Illinois?"

Me: "Outsourcing..."

Clerk: "Outsourcing?" (giving me a look) "We don't do that there. How did it get to Chicago?"

I continued to stand there as she removed the car tag from the envelop and examined it closely.

Me: "It looks just like the one I got last year."

She continued looking at it before finally punching in a few numbers on her computer and frowning again.

Clerk: "Well, I'm the one that processed this a few weeks ago. Let me check the name of the person that mailed it to you to see if they are in the system."

The last name began with a "P" so there was always the chance the papers got stuck together somehow.

Me: "Find anything?"

Clerk: "Nope. I don't know how it got to Chicago." She examined it again before continuing "It looks perfectly fine. I don't see why there would be a problem just putting it on your license plate."

Really? I could see several problems such as identity theft, stolen tags or someone showing up at my house asking "Are you the MAFW?"

Me: "I don't know, I'm a bit worried about identity theft these days."

Clerk: "Well, this tag is linked to the VIN of your car, so you wouldn't have a problem if you got stopped."

I hadn't even thought about that. I haven't been pulled over in almost ten years, but I sure know I didn't want to try and explain to a Georgia cop that although my license and plate says I'm from Georgia, my yearly decal is from the Windy City. (Not sure I'd be able to talk my way out of that one.)

Me: "I want a whole new license plate."

The clerk examined the tag and envelop once again before agreeing with me. She punched a few more numbers on the screen, shuffled a few papers around and stopped short before reaching for one of the new plates sitting on a shelf beside her.

Clerk: "We got one small problem?"

Me: "What's that?"

Clerk: "I need your old plate."

Me: "Oh. Well, I have that. It's on my car."

Clerk: "Okay, for some reason, I thought it was in Chicago..."

I felt bad for the clerk because I still don't know how my car tag got to Chicago. It was confusing.

Clerk: "You got a screwdriver?"

What I wanted to say was "Why, does one of us have a screw loose?" But, what I actually said was not that bold.

Me: "No, I don't."

Clerk: "Okay, I've got one you can borrow if you want to take your plate off and bring it back so we can exchange it. Can you do it by yourself?"

This time I gave her a look. I knew how to handle a screwdriver well enough to remove a few screws from a license plate. (In Georgia, we only have one plate and it's in the back. The front plate usually has a UGA plate, a Nascar racing tag or is empty like mine.) I removed the plate easily and took it back inside. A line had formed while I was outside and now I stood outside the room waiting in line. It wasn't very long before I heard someone calling my name "Palmer," "Ms. Palmer," and finally the one that caught my attention "Wrong plate from Chicago."

I smiled at the six people that I moved ahead of in line and one man frowned at me. In his hand he carried stacks and stacks of paperwork. "I'm in a hurry," he said.

Me: "I've already been in line once and they sent me my car tag from Chicago."

Man in a hurry: "You go right ahead."

I handed the screwdriver and plate over to the clerk and watched as she punched a few buttons on the screen, shuffled a few papers around and handed me a new plate. Somewhere I had the thought of trying to explain what happened in her paperwork and couldn't help but ask.

Me: "What did you write in your reason code for giving me a new plate?"

The clerk for the first time offered a small grin.

Clerk: "I said the Post Office delivered it to the wrong state."

Maybe? But, who knows?

I thanked her and drove back home to have my lunch before continuing with my errands. I put the new tag on, gathered a few letters and headed to the Post Office.

I talked to several people in line and took my turn at the counter. I exchanged pleasantries with the clerk and told her of my lost car tag. As a former postal worker, I know that the Post Office gets blamed for everything and wasn't surprised when she said "It was probably delivered to the wrong house. You were lucky someone sent it to you."

I agreed with her and was about to walk out the door when she called after me. "Was it in the blue envelop?"

Me: "Nope. It was in a plain white envelop."

Postal clerk: "Doesn't surprise me one bit. Those people at the tag office screw up my stuff every time I go in there."

I'll never know how my car tag got delivered to a residence in Chicago, or maybe, I don't want to know. I do have the return address of the person that mailed it to me and I will probably send them a thank-you card.

It's the least I can do...and I just might ask about that blue envelop!


Monday, March 28, 2016

Bad Customer Service Strikes Again...The Tale Of A Lost Car Tag...Part IV


I felt bad for the clerk because I still don't know how my car tag got to Chicago. It was confusing.

Clerk: "You got a screwdriver?"

What I wanted to say was "Why, does one of us have a screw loose?" But, what I actually said was not that bold.

Me: "No, I don't."

Clerk: "Okay, I've got one you can borrow if you want to take your plate off and bring it back so we can exchange it. Can you do it by yourself?"

This time I gave her a look. I knew how to handle a screwdriver well enough to remove a few screws from a license plate. (In Georgia, we only have one plate and it's in the back. The front plate usually has a UGA plate, a Nascar racing tag or is empty like mine.) I removed the plate easily and took it back inside. A line had formed while I was outside and now I stood outside the room waiting in line. It wasn't very long before I heard someone calling my name "Palmer," "Ms. Palmer," and finally the one that caught my attention "Wrong plate from Chicago."

I smiled at the six people that I moved ahead of in line and one man frowned at me. In his hand he carried stacks and stacks of paperwork. "I'm in a hurry," he said.

Me: "I've already been in line once and they sent me my car tag from Chicago."

Man in a hurry: "You go right ahead."

I handed the screwdriver and plate over to the clerk and watched as she punched a few buttons on the screen, shuffled a few papers around and handed me a new plate. Somewhere I had the thought of trying to explain what happened in her paperwork and couldn't help but ask.

Me: "What did you write in your reason code for giving me a new plate?"

The clerk for the first time offered a small grin.

Clerk: "I said the Post Office delivered it to the wrong state."

Maybe? But, who knows?

I thanked her and drove back home to have my lunch before continuing with my errands. I put the new tag on, gathered a few letters and headed to the Post Office.

I talked to several people in line and took my turn at the counter. I exchanged pleasantries with the clerk and told her of my lost car tag. As a former postal worker, I know that the Post Office gets blamed for everything and wasn't surprised when she said "It was probably delivered to the wrong house. You were lucky someone sent it to you."

I agreed with her and was about to walk out the door when she called after me. "Was it in the blue envelop?"

Me: "Nope. It was in a plain white envelop."

Postal clerk: "Doesn't surprise me one bit. Those people at the tag office screw up my stuff every time I go in there."

I'll never know how my car tag got delivered to a residence in Chicago, or maybe, I don't want to know. I do have the return address of the person that mailed it to me and I will probably send them a thank-you card.

It's the least I can do...and I just might ask about that blue envelop!







Sunday, March 27, 2016

Bad Customer Service Strikes Again...The Tale Of A Lost Car Tag...Part III


Clerk: "Outsourcing?" (giving me a look) "We don't do that there. How did it get to Chicago?"

I continued to stand there as she removed the car tag from the envelop and examined it closely.

Me: "It looks just like the one I got last year."

She continued looking at it before finally punching in a few numbers on her computer and frowning again.

Clerk: "Well, I'm the one that processed this a few weeks ago. Let me check the name of the person that mailed it to you to see if they are in the system."

The last name began with a "P" so there was always the chance the papers got stuck together somehow.

Me: "Find anything?"

Clerk: "Nope. I don't know how it got to Chicago." She examined it again before continuing "It looks perfectly fine. I don't see why there would be a problem just putting it on your license plate."

Really? I could see several problems such as identity theft, stolen tags or someone showing up at my house asking "Are you the MAFW?"

Me: "I don't know, I'm a bit worried about identity theft these days."

Clerk: "Well, this tag is linked to the VIN of your car, so you wouldn't have a problem if you got stopped."

I hadn't even thought about that. I haven't been pulled over in almost ten years, but I sure know I didn't want to try and explain to a Georgia cop that although my license and plate says I'm from Georgia, my yearly decal is from the Windy City. (Not sure I'd be able to talk my way out of that one.)

Me: "I want a whole new license plate."

The clerk examined the tag and envelop once again before agreeing with me. She punched a few more numbers on the screen, shuffled a few papers around and stopped short before reaching for one of the new plates sitting on a shelf beside her.

Clerk: "We got one small problem?"

Me: "What's that?"

Clerk: "I need your old plate."

Me: "Oh. Well, I have that. It's on my car."

Clerk: "Okay, for some reason, I thought it was in Chicago..."

Check back for the conclusion tomorrow...

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Bad Customer Service Strikes Again...The Tale Of A Lost Car Tag...Part II



...Well, now I had the answers to several questions.

Court wasn't in session.

The tag office had moved.

And the cops WERE bored.

I walked back out to the car lost somewhere between my bad luck with customer service and an insane desire to know what the suspicious-looking object was inside my purse. I was rummaging around in the bag, not paying attention when I stepped off the curve and landed just to the right of the man-hole cover which threw off my balance and sent me and everything in my purse flying all over North Main Street.

I'm not as spry as I used to be, but I somehow managed to avoid the man-hole but ended up with my hand touching what was either mud or fecal matter of some kind. (I resisted the urge to sniff my hand.) After ascertaining that I was all right, my next response was to look around to see if anyone had witnessed my misstep and was relieved when I saw nothing except a puzzled pigeon that was now pecking at something that had fallen out of my purse. I stood up slowly and shooed the bird away as I picked up what had fallen out of my bag. The pigeon was poking around at a small package of Tums that I hadn't seen before. Maybe, that was the suspicious-looking contraband?

I used my one clean hand to gather up the rest of my belongings, opened the car door and sat down inside. Checking myself in the mirror, I reached to push my hair back and didn't catch myself before the dirty hand brushed my hair back into place. Yuck. It definitely wasn't mud.

Sometimes, shit happens, but luckily, I had a brand new container of Handi-wipes in the car and was able to exchange the poopy smell to one just as bad. Why do those things smell so bad? Thankfully, I didn't really notice anything in my hair, except a certain slicked-down area where my hand had been.

The old hospital--now the new administrative annex--was only a mile from downtown so I was there in a short time. I gathered all of my items again, minus the small package of tums (no need to look suspicious at the next x-ray machine) and went inside the building. I was surprised that there wasn't any security at the front door except the same sign prohibiting firearms and knives (I didn't have any) and followed the signs to the tag office.

I waited in line for a few minutes before a nice lady waved me over. The following is our conversation:

Clerk: "Hey. What can I do for you?"

Me: "Hey. Well, (placing the letter from Illinois on the counter) I finally received my car tag, and in the past, it only took three days, but this time it came from someone in Chicago and took three weeks."

Clerk: "What?"

Me: "This is what my car tag came in," (showing the letter) "Don't you guys use the blue envelops any longer?"



Clerk: "Yes, we do." She picked up the letter and examined it closely.

Me: "You can just make it out where somebody wrote 'Vehicle registration mailed to me' under the barcode,'" I said pointing it out to her.

Clerk: "Chicago? How in the world..."

Me: "That's what I thought."

Clerk: "How did it get to Illinois?"

Me: "Outsourcing..."



Is this thing on

Mobile posting test

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Mom's Birthday...She Gets A New Post This Year

It's Mom's birthday!

The year 1956 was a big year for Lora Keiber. She graduated and was the prom queen at Jefferson Township High School in Blue Creek, Ohio. She had 19 in her class which was about the same amount that lived in the city of Blue Creek. And most of whom were in her family. Granny had 11 children.

The first photo is her senior picture. This has always been my favorite photo of my mother. I love the short hair!

In the second photo, she is standing beside the prom king, who was Sandy Hamilton.



We'll probably celebrate like we do most things in my family and that's by going out to eat. Mom, just like Dad, likes a good steak. But sometimes, we'll change things up and go to Olive Garden or Red Lobster--just depends on what coupon we have.

Happy Birthday Mom! I know I speak for the rest of those that know you: "You're the best and we love you very much!"

And you'll always be the prom queen!



Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Bad Customer Service Strikes Again...The Tale Of A Lost Car Tag...Part I


I received my official Georgia 2016 car tag (usually comes in a blue envelop), three weeks late and in a handwritten unofficial envelop from a fellow in Chicago that said he received it by mistake.




Scam?


Mistake?


Post Office screw up?


In another time, I would have chalked it up to clerk error at the local office but with identity theft all the rage now, it looks like I will need to go to the courthouse and see what's up.


Courthouses aren't a place that I spend a lot of time in--we have a new courthouse where I live and I've only been there one time--to renew my passport--but the last time I had to get any documentation about my car, that's where I went.

Parking is usually an issue up town, so imagine my surprise when I pulled into a spot right in front of the building. I gathered all the information--the letter I received from Illinois, last year's tag, my insurance card, my driver's license and was almost inside when I realized I forgot my reading glasses. I can't read anything closer than 24 inches--that's as far as I can reach with my arm (I measured)--without my glasses and figured I'd be reading all sorts of fine print before I got this latest bad customer service experience straightened out and went back and got them. If you're new to the blog you can check out my experience with the gas company and bad haircuts in earlier posts.

I retrieved my glasses, side-stepped a man-hole (I never step on those) and made my way to the front of the courthouse. The door gave notice that no firearms or weapons of any kind were permitted and I didn't give it another thought. Another surprising fact was that I was the only person around--I always thought the tax office was a hopping place.

Two officers swung into action when I walked inside. I placed my keys inside my purse and placed it and the paperwork into the gray plastic bin provided by the officer manning the x-ray machine. The other officer motioned me through the metal detector--it didn't beep (but I did make the sound in my head) and giving me a nod and smile stepped back to his place along the wall.

I waited for the bin to come through the x-ray and saw the officer frown slightly. He shook his head and then ran the tub through the machine again. "What's that?" he asked.

I looked at the screen, "That's my medical bag--it looks like a syringe."

"No, I can see that. This item right here," he said pointing to a dark spot.

I looked at the screen. For a moment, the thought "items appear closer (bigger) than they are", you know, what's written on car rear view mirrors popped into my head. "It could be a bottle of glucose," I said. I knew I had one in there and I didn't see it on the screen.

"No, it isn't that. It's right here," he said pointing to another, better defined blob.

"Hmmm, it could be a Chapstick," I said. "You're more than welcome to search it." Who knew I had such a large amount of suspicious-looking contraband in my purse?

"It looks like a knife," he said.

"Could be nail clippers. Does that count as a knife?"

"No, it doesn't," he said giving me a look.

"You can search it. I don't mind." (They must be bored)

"I think it's okay. Have a nice day," he said dismissing me.

I picked up my purse and smiled at the other officer. "Thanks, y'all have a good one. Is the tag office still in the basement?"

"Nope. It moved. Only thing here is court-related issues and court isn't in session this week. You gotta go to the old hospital for tax issues...


Friday, March 18, 2016

Learning To Say Yes


Have you ever wondered how many times we say, "No, thanks" on a daily basis? Well, I surprised myself recently by saying "yes" to things that I normally say "no" to.

It all started a few weeks ago when Mom's car was in the shop and I was volunteered to give her a ride for the next days. She was starting a new dog sitting assignment and I was going to drive her out to her client's house. Well, midway through the trek it became apparent that this house was a bit off the beaten path. The road went from nicely paved, up hill and down, to thickly graveled, to lightly travelled and into dirt; we crossed one creek and on into deeply rutted and no-chance-in-hell is my Mustang coming back out here land.

When we finally arrived at the cabin, it was sitting on the side of the mountain and had 4 cars crammed into 3 parking spots. I was less than pleased, I had just put new brakes on the car and the brake pedal was going to the floor. How in the world do they get turned around? Mom must have heard me talking to myself because she said the same thing: "I wonder how they turn around?"

At that point, an older gentleman came out of the house and greeted Mom with a big hello. "Nice looking car you got there. Want me to turn her around for you?"

Now, I've only let three people drive my car, but something about this situation: the location, the brake pedal, my nerves were already shot from the drive up the hill and the genuine offer of help from this old guy made me slowly nod my head with acceptance. "Watch the brake pedal," I said. "I just got new brakes and it's going to the floor."

I guess his years of driving experience was a big payoff because within a few short minutes he had my car turned around. "That was fun!" he said. "I'm glad you said "yes" because the last two folks didn't and they backed off the side of the mountain. We had to call in the wreckers and everything; it was a hot mess!"

I'm learning to say "yes" to lots of things:

Wanna help me out with my groceries? Sure!

Can I hold the door for you? Yes, thank you!

Did you want a to-go cup? Definitely!

Would you like to try this sample? Okay!

Would you like to try our 30 day free trial.....?

(Uh, no, thanks) I still can't say "yes" to telemarketers.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Senior Day At The Cinema


Mom called the other day and asked if I wanted to go see a new movie since she hadn't been in a while. I agreed to go since I didn't have anything better to do. We decided to go to the afternoon matinee and went to Applebees for lunch. It was really a hard decision about lunch because we usually like to go to Red Lobster when we're in the neighboring town.


Anyhow, lunch was mostly uneventful. We got the Horatio Cane of waitresses. She tried having a conversation with us and wouldn't even look our way. She kept looking out the window and down at the floor. If you're not sure about what I'm referring to check out CSI Miami and watch Horatio. He's always looking down and has his head tilted funny. Weird!


We purchased our tickets, bitched about the price of the popcorn and walked inside the movie theater. I thought it was strange when the lady selling the tickets said that we had purchased the last two tickets and the movie was now sold out. It was a Wednesday afternoon, school had already started back and I didn't think that this movie was supposed to be a blockbuster or anything. I soon got my answer when we arrived in Theater 2; the place was packed.


It was filled with row upon row of old people, namely senior citizens. I was the youngest person in there by about 30 years. Even Mom, who ain't a spring chicken any longer looked at me strangely. What the heck's going on she seemed to be thinking? Did they get Senior price? Did they get a group discount? How can I get in this group?


Quite honestly, I was thinking something completely different. I hoped no one fell, or even worse, keeled over during the exciting part of the movie.


We found two seats up in the very last row and after tripping over two walking canes, a walker on wheels and a prosthetic leg we settled into our seats. The movie started and we were about 30 minutes into it when the tape broke. Mom elbowed me and decided that she wanted popcorn after all and now would be a good time to get it. I agreed and started down the steps when I heard someone ask me if I was going to the concession stand. I stopped and looked towards the voice and was startled to see the smallest little old lady imaginable. I said I was and she asked if I would get her something too. Her legs don't move so good especially when she's been sitting awhile. I nodded in agreement, collected her money and started back down the steps.


Another voice chimed in. And then another. Finally, once I reached the bottom of the stairs, I just asked the entire audience who wanted popcorn. Almost every hand in the theater wobbled upright. I looked a little scared I think because the lady on the bottom row said, "Come on honey, I'll help you."


It seems in the rush to get the Soothing Waters Assisted Living Home residents inside the theater before the movie started someone had neglected to ask the Seniors if they wanted any refreshments. And that's how for the next 30 minutes, myself and my helper, Genevieve, made about 25 trips to the concession stand. The manager of the theater noticed what we were doing and didn't restart the movie until we had finished. Everyone had popcorn and everyone had a drink!


Well, almost.


When I walked backed up the stairs totally exhausted to reclaim my seat Mom gave me a quizzical look. "Where's my popcorn?" she asked.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

I have no idea. I just thought it was a good title.

But in this case, the chicken crossed the road or was placed by someone in my neighbor's fenced yard for no other reason to drive me crazy on a Sunday afternoon.

I have no idea where the rooster came from. I have the windows open because it's too hot, too soon and I'm too cheap to turn on the air conditioner this early in the year. It's still winter, for heaven's sake.

The rooster crowed for over an hour before I realized it wasn't coming from the television. I've stopped watching a lot of network television--however, I am hooked on Homeland on Showtime--I only have about three weeks of the free stuff left on my new customer special with Dish so I am binge-watching it to get caught up.

Imagine my surprise, after the umpteenth cock-a-doodle-do that I realized the television wasn't on. I live in the country but none of my neighbors have any chickens.

I heard the rooster sound off again and decided this was cause for an investigation so I put on my slippers and ventured outside. Mom called right when I saw the chicken for the first time.




Mom: "What are you doing?"

 Me: "Spying on a chicken."

 Mom: "Is it fried?"

 Me: "Nope, it's still running around the yard. Don't know where it came from?"

 Mom: "Okay, but you're not keeping it."

 Me: "Why not?"


 Mom: "Cause I already ate..."


I wasn't the only one interested in the chicken. Wally and Ralphie spent the whole afternoon searching for the bird making all that racket.

 


Later in the afternoon, after a Sunday meal of fried chicken (I know) Mom called and wanted an update on the situation.


Me: "Guess what?"

 Mom: "You caught the chicken?"

 Me: "Nope. Friend tried to get a pic of it."

 Mom: "Did she get it?"

 Me: "Nope. She stepped on a snake..."

 Mom: "Oh. I thought I heard yelling..."


 Me: "There's was LOTS of yelling and cursing and I beat her inside the house...."


Now, I know why the chicken crossed the road. To get the hell away from that snake.



Thursday, March 10, 2016

A Letter To Rose


Author's note: The following essay was my entry into the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition which takes place every two years. Everyone suffers loss and each person has their own way of coping--mine is to write and this is probably the most honest thing I've written. Even though it didn't win the contest, Rose's daughter, Elizabeth, told me a poem I wrote and read aloud at her mom's memorial service was framed and hanging on her wall and  also her grandmother's wall.
To me, nothing captures the spirit and writings of Erma more than the acknowledgement that someone likes your words well enough to hang them up on a door, wall or refrigerator.
And you know what, there's nothing losing about that.
With the family's blessing, I'm sharing the essay here.

Dear Rose,

I can't believe you're gone. It seems like yesterday we were sharing stories and laughs over a large sweet tea from Chick-Fil-A--about the guy that always forgot your name. A lot has happened since then.

I've thought about what brought me to the post office that day. Five years since I'd dropped by, but on my drive home, thoughts of "Have lunch with Rose" wouldn't leave my mind.  We'd tried to get together but our plans always fell through.

I was shocked when I walked in the door. Sitting in a chair working the counter--which was never allowed--was someone unrecognizable. "What's wrong?" I asked.

"Doctors say pneumonia, but I'm not so sure."

We talked, but you didn't have the strength for lunch, so we planned it for another day. How could I have known it would be your last day at work? How could we have known that another day would never come?

I received the call while driving and pulled over to get the news.

Stage four. Cancer. You’re only 50.

I called as soon as I got home."It's stage four,” you said, “but treatable. I'll do anything to get out of work." We laughed together at that, but "treatable" is what we clung to.

"I'll visit when I get back," I said.

“You take the best vacations,” you said. “Bring me a souvenir”

"Are you coming to visit today?" your daughter asked. "Mom is having trouble."

“I’ll be there soon.”

"She's here, Rose. Your friend is here," your mom said.

The light returned to the room when you opened your eyes--an afternoon of laughter, tears and memories but heartbreak just outside the door. "Thank you so much for coming," your sister said, “You gave us back our laughter,” and we cried some more. "When will you be back?"

I saw the look on her face as she led me into the room. "Maybe, a week at most," your mom said. "How can this be happening?"

You died two days later.

I think you were there when I read the poem to our friends at the service. It made us cry but we all laughed at the punch line.  Everyone came.

Finally, Rose, I just wanted you to know that you have a new granddaughter, your namesake, and she's beautiful. Your grandson is so sweet and kind, but sometimes, he just stares at her. Maybe he knows you’re looking out at him.

Every one of us has an empty place that will never be whole again. The laughter may come and go but love lasts forever and we’ll always remember your name.

I miss you.

Signed, your friend.





Monday, March 7, 2016

The Gas Company Strikes Back...The Whole Story

Mistakes happen.

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."

Silence.

Rep: "Sure." (What is it with the sure?) "Let me check again? Could you repeat the number?"

Me: "Sure..."

Rep: "There you are, we had your named spelled wrong."

Me: "Not a problem. Happens all the time."

Rep: "I'm sure. How much gas did you want to order?"

Me: "How much is it?"

Rep: "Well, that depends on how much you purchase. The more you order, the cheaper it is."

Me: "I'm sure. I have a five-hundred gallon tank."

Rep: "Wow! That's big. What percentage are you on?"

(And that right there my friends is where she almost tripped me up. If you say you have less than a certain amount, the gas company says they have to perform a suck test to make sure there aren't any leaks in the system. And you know, there's a fee for that, too. I'm sure! The magic number is 10%; you never have less than that amount.)

Me: "I've got about ten percent."

Rep: "Okay then. The price is $1.29 a gallon."

Me: "Excuse me?"

Rep: "It's $1.29 a gallon."

Me: "Are you sure?"

Rep: "Of course, I'm sure."

I heard her running numbers through the calculator again and then she put me on hold.

Me: "Hello?"

Rep: "Sorry about that, but I'm new here and wanted to make sure I was doing everything correctly. You questioned the price I gave you and I wanted to be sure I was doing it right."

Me: "I'm sorry. I was just startled by the quote you gave."

Rep: "Too high?"

Me: "Are you kidding me? I've never paid less than $2.00 a gallon. I was in shock."

Rep: "I see. Okay, well how much would you like."

Me: "Fill 'er up..."

Rep: "You want me to fill it up?"

I started doing the calculations in my head. I recently returned from a two-week trip up the East Coast and it was less than two months before Christmas. A fill up would be a very large chunk of change that I really didn't want to pay, but the price was so good and I knew it would only be going up during the winter months. I could be warm now but end up eating Ramen noodles and Vienna Sausages during the Holidays. There's nothing wrong with that but I do have a fondness for more traditional holiday fare.

Me: "On second thought, let me get 300 hundred gallons. I checked my various sources and they said it wasn't supposed to be that cold this winter."

Rep: "I read a report here at the office that said that, too, but I saw a woolly worm the other day and it was completely black."

Me: "Uh oh. That's bad." We chatted some more while she rang up my total and once you added in the taxes and fees it was nearly $500. I was quite pleased with this because my total consumption for the year is never more than 425 gallons and I usually only purchase a 100 gallons at a time because it's so expensive.

Rep: "Okay, everything is set. Did you want to pay by credit card?"

Me: "Uh, no. I'll be up with a check later today."

Rep: "Sure. Thanks for calling. Have a good one."

I did go and pay by check later that day and the propane was delivered eight days later. I did have to call and ask about it at the one week mark because...well...I've had problems in the past. The delivery ticket was lost somewhere in the office and it was delivered the next day. (I only live three miles from the location.)

I was still happy. You can't beat $1.29...

...Or maybe you can.

On February 15, I checked the gauge carefully (I use carefully here because there is that time when I used a lighter as a flashlight to check the gauge one winter evening and almost blew myself up) on the buried propane tank and it was nearing 10%. It turned out that it hasn't been that cold this winter--certainly not for an extended period of time and for a moment, I thought about not ordering anymore gas. I could always put on a second sweater (I always wear one sweater because it's an old drafty house.)

I thought better of it when both cats looked at me and shivered. (Not really, but Wally sleeps on the vent.)

So I placed the call.

The price per gallon was now $1.89--certainly higher than $1.29, but way better than $2.79 or higher which is what I have paid in the past. I ordered a 100 gallons, verified my 10% (which was dropping fast), and paid the bill. The estimate for delivery was 7-10 working days (I would probably be out by then and they would try to get me to pay for the suck test. It's happened in the past.).

Imagine my surprise three days later when I returned home from Walmart (another place that sucks the money right out of your wallet) and found a delivery ticket in the door. I jumped out of Friend's truck, opened the lid and read the gauge. I almost passed out when I read it. It said 80%.

Me: "It says 80%."

Friend: "You're kidding?"

Me: "Maybe, the gauge is stuck." I stuck my hand further down in the tank and tapped the gauge several times. It didn't move.

Friend: "I don't think it's stuck."

Me: "WHY?"

Friend: "We got 369 gallons..."

It was Friday, after 4:00 pm. They close at four and are closed on the weekends. They don't offer anything online (although, they are working on that), so I had all weekend to think about it.

Me: "You're kidding, right? It says 369 gallons..."

...How could this happen? It's not like a 100 gallons and 369 gallons are anywhere close to each other on the meter. Was the driver distracted? Was he trolling Facebook? Was he taking a leak? Was he playing pocket pool? According to my calculations, that's almost four times the amount I should have received. What normally takes less than three minutes turned into over ten minutes? Was he on a break?

All of these questions and many more ran through my mind the entire weekend. But perhaps the most frustrating of all was the fact that someone was going to have to pay for it, and even though I told myself a million times that I wasn't going to, somehow, I knew that wouldn't be the case. It wasn't in the budget and for all I cared they could just come right back out to the house and suck it all back out. (I'm sure there's a fee for that, too!)

I dreaded making the call on Monday, but on the other hand, I couldn't wait to hear what the explanation was about the quadrupling of my order and how they were going to handle the situation. At least I wouldn't have to talk to the mean lady because she would have probably explained that it was all my fault and they were going to sue because I caused the driver undo anguish over the mistake.

I took a deep breath and placed the call.

Rep: "Heritage Propane? Can I help you?"

Me: "Hi, I'm Gianetta Palmer and I ordered gas last week, but there was a mistake with my delivery."

Rep: "Okay. What was the problem?"

Me: "Well, I ordered 100 gallons, but I received 369 gallons."

Silence.

Me: "Hello?"

Rep: "I'm here. I think I know what you're talking about. What's your account number?"

I rattled off a few numbers and she continued.

Rep: "Okay, I have it right here. Yeah, the driver called right away and said he got distracted. Julie (?) worked a few numbers and we were able to take $.30 off the price per gallon and drop the price to $1.59 a gallon. I know it's a problem for you."

Silence.

Me: "You're right! It's a big problem...." (I was very calm and polite.)

More silence.

Rep: "Okay, well let me talk to Julie again and work some numbers and I'll call you back. Is that okay?"

Me: "Sure."

She called back a short time later.

Rep: "I'm new here, but I saw in your account records that you've had problems in the past."

Me: "A few.."

Rep: "Well, that was before I was here but I sure am sorry (first time ever someone apologized) you're having this many problems. I mean it's not rocket science or something, we're selling gas."

Me: "That's true."

Rep: "Here's what we were able to do: You originally paid $1.89 a gallon for 100 hundred gallons. We reduced the original price to $.99 a gallon so deducting what you've already paid and adding the taxes and fees back in you will only owe us $161.82. And if that doesn't work for you I can give you the number to the main office and you can talk to the area manager."

The only thing I heard out of that conversation was $.99 a gallon.

Me: "You're gonna charge me $.99 a gallon for all of it?"

Rep: "Yes."

Me: "All 369 gallons of it?"

Rep: "Yes."

Me: "In the middle of winter?" (Two years ago I paid nearly $4 a gallon in February.)

Rep: "Yes, ma'am."

Me: "Okay." (Unbelievable!)

Rep: "And you don't have to pay for thirty days...."

I hung up the phone and just sat there waiting on the other shoe to drop. It had taken nearly twenty years and many, many mistakes but I will have to say that the gas company delivered this time. Unless an Ice Age develops in the next ten months I have enough gas to get through the end of the year. I was thrilled.

Or at least I was until I got the mail two days later. They sent the new bill and it didn't match what the customer rep told me on the phone. It was $25 more.

I thought about calling and complaining about the difference but thought better of it. I'd already saved several hundred dollars. Besides, knowing my luck it was probably an added fee because they had to bill me because I wouldn't pay over the phone.

Mistakes happen. There's bad customer service everywhere. But, sometimes if you're nice and calm, things might eventually go your way.

And I'll take 50% off any day...



Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Gas Company Strikes Again...Part IV

...How could this happen? It's not like a 100 gallons and 369 gallons are anywhere close to each other on the meter. Was the driver distracted? Was he trolling Facebook? Was he taking a leak? Was he playing pocket pool? According to my calculations, that's almost four times the amount I should have received. What normally takes less than three minutes turned into over ten minutes? Was he on a break?

All of these questions and many more ran through my mind the entire weekend. But perhaps the most frustrating of all was the fact that someone was going to have to pay for it, and even though I told myself a million times that I wasn't going to, somehow, I knew that wouldn't be the case. It wasn't in the budget and for all I cared they could just come right back out to the house and suck it all back out. (I'm sure there's a fee for that, too!)

I dreaded making the call on Monday, but on the other hand, I couldn't wait to hear what the explanation was about the quadrupling of my order and how they were going to handle the situation. At least I wouldn't have to talk to the mean lady because she would have probably explained that it was all my fault and they were going to sue because I caused the driver undo anguish over the mistake.

I took a deep breath and placed the call.

Rep: "Heritage Propane? Can I help you?"

Me: "Hi, I'm Gianetta Palmer and I ordered gas last week, but there was a mistake with my delivery."

Rep: "Okay. What was the problem?"

Me: "Well, I ordered 100 gallons, but I received 369 gallons."

Silence.

Me: "Hello?"

Rep: "I'm here. I think I know what you're talking about. What's your account number?"

I rattled off a few numbers and she continued.

Rep: "Okay, I have it right here. Yeah, the driver called right away and said he got distracted. Julie (?) worked a few numbers and we were able to take $.30 off the price per gallon and drop the price to $1.59 a gallon. I know it's a problem for you."

Silence.

Me: "You're right! It's a big problem...." (I was very calm and polite.)

More silence.

Rep: "Okay, well let me talk to Julie again and work some numbers and I'll call you back. Is that okay?"

Me: "Sure."

She called back a short time later.

Rep: "I'm new here, but I saw in your account records that you've had problems in the past."

Me: "A few.."

Rep: "Well, that was before I was here but I sure am sorry (first time ever someone apologized) you're having this many problems. I mean it's not rocket science or something, we're selling gas."

Me: "That's true."

Rep: "Here's what we were able to do: You originally paid $1.89 a gallon for 100 hundred gallons. We reduced the original price to $.99 a gallon so deducting what you've already paid and adding the taxes and fees back in you will only owe us $161.82. And if that doesn't work for you I can give you the number to the main office and you can talk to the area manager."

The only thing I heard out of that conversation was $.99 a gallon.

Me: "You're gonna charge me $.99 a gallon for all of it?"

Rep: "Yes."

Me: "All 369 gallons of it?"

Rep: "Yes."

Me: "In the middle of winter?" (Two years ago I paid nearly $4 a gallon in February.)

Rep: "Yes, ma'am."

Me: "Okay." (Unbelievable!)

Rep: "And you don't have to pay for thirty days...."

I hung up the phone and just sat there waiting on the other shoe to drop. It had taken nearly twenty years and many, many mistakes but I will have to say that the gas company delivered this time. Unless an Ice Age develops in the next ten months I have enough gas to get through the end of the year. I was thrilled.

Or at least I was until I got the mail two days later. They sent the new bill and it didn't match what the customer rep told me on the phone. It was $25 more.

I thought about calling and complaining about the difference but thought better of it. I'd already saved several hundred dollars. Besides, knowing my luck it was probably an added fee because they had to bill me because I wouldn't pay over the phone.

Mistakes happen. There's bad customer service everywhere. But, sometimes if you're nice and calm, things might eventually go your way.

And I'll take 50% off any day...

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Gas Company Strikes Again...Part III

...Part III of my latest encounter with the gas company. Check out parts one and two to get you caught up.

Me: "Fill 'er up"

Rep: "You want me to fill it up?"

I started doing the calculations in my head. I recently returned from a two-week trip up the East Coast and it was less than two months before Christmas. A fill up would be a very large chunk of change that I really didn't want to pay, but the price was so good and I knew it would only be going up during the winter months. I could be warm now but end up eating Ramen noodles and Vienna Sausages during the Holidays. There's nothing wrong with that but I do have a fondness for more traditional holiday fare.

Me: "On second thought, let me get 300 hundred gallons. I checked my various sources and they said it wasn't supposed to be that cold this winter."

Rep: "I read a report here at the office that said that, too, but I saw a woolly worm the other day and it was completely black."

Me: "Uh oh. That's bad." We chatted some more while she rang up my total and once you added in the taxes and fees it was nearly $500. I was quite pleased with this because my total consumption for the year is never more than 425 gallons and I usually only purchase a 100 gallons at a time because it's so expensive.

Rep: "Okay, everything is set. Did you want to pay by credit card?"

Me: "Uh, no. I'll be up with a check later today."

Rep: "Sure. Thanks for calling. Have a good one."

I did go and pay by check later that day and the propane was delivered eight days later. I did have to call and ask about it at the one week mark because...well...I've had problems in the past. The delivery ticket was lost somewhere in the office and it was delivered the next day. (I only live three miles from the location.)

I was still happy. You can't beat $1.29...

...Or maybe you can.

On February 15, I checked the gauge carefully (I use carefully here because there is that time when I used a lighter as a flashlight to check the gauge one winter evening and almost blew myself up) on the buried propane tank and it was nearing 10%. It turned out that it hasn't been that cold this winter--certainly not for an extended period of time and for a moment, I thought about not ordering anymore gas. I could always put on a second sweater (I always wear one sweater because it's an old drafty house.)

I thought better of it when both cats looked at me and shivered. (Not really, but Wally sleeps on the vent.)

So I placed the call.

The price per gallon was now $1.89--certainly higher than $1.29, but way better than $2.79 or higher which is what I have paid in the past. I ordered a 100 gallons, verified my 10% (which was dropping fast), and paid the bill. The estimate for delivery was 7-10 working days (I would probably be out by then and they would try to get me to pay for the suck test. It's happened in the past.).

Imagine my surprise three days later when I returned home from Walmart (another place that sucks the money right out of your wallet) and found a delivery ticket in the door. I jumped out of Friend's truck, opened the lid and read the gauge. I almost passed out when I read it. It said 80%.

Me: "It says 80%."

Friend: "You're kidding?"

Me: "Maybe, the gauge is stuck." I stuck my hand further down in the tank and tapped the gauge several times. It didn't move.

Friend: "I don't think it's stuck."

Me: "WHY?"

Friend: "We got 369 gallons..."

It was Friday, after 4:00 pm. They close at four and are closed on the weekends. They don't offer anything online (although, they are working on that), so I had all weekend to think about it.

Me: "You're kidding, right? It says 369 gallons..."

This story is longer than I expected. Check back on Sunday for the conclusion....










Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Gas Company Strikes Again...Part II

...And I'm a bit late with part two but I did finish all of the revisions and wrote the ending on my next two books. So, I haven't been sitting around eating Cadbury Eggs. (Well, I have been doing that, too!)

On with the story...

Rep: "There you are, we had your named spelled wrong."

Me: "Not a problem. Happens all the time."

Rep: "I'm sure. How much gas did you want to order?"

Me: "How much is it?"

Rep: "Well, that depends on how much you purchase. The more you order, the cheaper it is."

Me: "I'm sure. I have a five-hundred gallon tank."

Rep: "Wow! That's big. What percentage are you on?"

(And that right there my friends is where she almost tripped me up. If you say you have less than a certain amount, the gas company says they have to perform a suck test to make sure there aren't any leaks in the system. And you know, there's a fee for that, too. I'm sure! The magic number is 10%; you never have less than that amount.)

Me: "I've got about ten percent."

Rep: "Okay then. The price is $1.29 a gallon."

Me: "Excuse me?"

Rep: "It's $1.29 a gallon."

Me: "Are you sure?"

Rep: "Of course, I'm sure."

I heard her running numbers through the calculator again and then she put me on hold.

Me: "Hello?"

Rep: "Sorry about that, but I'm new here and wanted to make sure I was doing everything correctly. You questioned the price I gave you and I wanted to be sure I was doing it right."

Me: "I'm sorry. I was just startled by the quote you gave."

Rep: "Too high?"

Me: "Are you kidding me? I've never paid less than $2.00 a gallon. I was in shock."

Rep: "I see. Okay, well how much would you like."

Me: "Fill 'er up..."

Check back soon for part three and the conclusion...


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