Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Customer (DIS)Service

If I talk to one more Customer Service desk in INDIA I think I might scream! They read from scripts, they do not listen to your original question, they ask you what you just told them, then they send you a follow-up email repeating what they just told you when you told them it did not address your question.

Amazon.com just lost me as a customer. And based on how much money I have spent at Amazon over these many years, that will be a big loss to them, though unfortunately they will not feel it at all. Too bad, too.

I honestly wish there were some way for us to make a statement any more. At least in my own mind, I am making a point, and I will spend my money elsewhere.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Shopping for mustard seeds this week, I found the following:

1 7-ounce bag of mustard seeds at the local Asian/Indian market: $1.50
1 2.5-ounce jar of mustard seeds at the local chain grocery store: $4.29

What's wrong with this picture?

The Indian market was out of yellow mustard seeds (he said not enough Indian cooks buy them to always have them in stock), but he'll be getting some next week (apparently for us/we silly Americans.)

What in tarnation do we DO to those mustard seeds to make them so friggin' expensive!?!?! Do you think the mustard seed bottlers are union? Do you think they get more vacation and better benefits than most of us? I really have no idea, but for me, I think I'll support my local Asian market.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Overheard In The Aisle at Work

Conversation between two people originally from other countries:

Person 1: It's beautiful there - 80-85 degrees year-round.
Person 2: Wow, it must get hot there in the summer!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Those Darned Roundabouts

My Rant Du Jour again addresses the wonderful experience of driving in the DC area. My going-in position is that no one here knows how to drive, and it is getting worse.

It all started with Pierre L'Enfant in 1791. Check out the details here, but let's focus on the hubs of his street design. These hubs are what we lovingly know as traffic circles, or more accurately: roundabouts. These roundabouts will be our death.

No, I do not like driving in DC proper, and avoid it at all costs, but some smart-guy (and I just know it was a guy) decided that suburbia could benefit from a few roundabouts, so in the past few years they have sprung up all over the place. Now mind you, we are talking about inserting a roundabout at a spot where people were previously playing bumper-cars with each other at four-way stops, and I use the term "stops" loosely. Now we are playing bumper-cars in circles instead of squares.

So I thought I'd take this opportunity to explain a bit about how one is supposed to drive in a roundabout.

Here is a link to a good example of how traffic should flow in a roundabout: How to drive in a right-hand roundabout. It looks pretty simple, doesn't it? Here's the How To in words, taken from this site:

Step 1: Slow down as you approach the intersection. You're typically not required to stop.

Step 2: Wait for a gap and merge with the moving traffic into the outside lane.

Step 3: Yield to vehicles already in the circle.

Step 4: Turn left or right from the circle by following the inside lane around and then moving to the outside lane, following it to your exit.

Step 5: Continue driving straight ahead by approaching the circle on the outside lane and staying out of the circling lane.

Step 6: Watch for pedestrians and bicycles.

Step 7: Keep in mind that buses or large trucks need extra room to make turns and might take up more than one lane in a traffic circle.

Step 8: Obey all traffic signs and road markings.

Step 9: Signal your intent to other drivers when entering, going around and exiting the circle.

Okay, let me repeat that this is how it is supposed to be done. I see several problems with this, based on my 25+ years' of driving experience in this area. Let's go over those steps again:

Step 1:
Slow down as you approach the intersection. You're typically not required to stop. Slow down ... HAHAHAHAHA! No one here slows down for anything.

Step 2:
Wait for a gap and merge with the moving traffic into the outside lane. Wait for a gap ... HAHAHAHA! Everyone here has the right of way and no one waits for anyone.

Step 3:
Yield to vehicles already in the circle. Yield ... HAHAHAHA! See Step 2.

Step 4:
Turn left or right from the circle by following the inside lane around and then moving to the outside lane, following it to your exit. HAHAHAHA! This only works if the person making the tricky maneuver actually looks to see if there is someone in the outside lane before moving into it.

Step 5:
Continue driving straight ahead by approaching the circle on the outside lane and staying out of the circling lane. See Step 4.

Step 6:
Watch for pedestrians and bicycles. Ditto.

Step 7:
Keep in mind that buses or large trucks need extra room to make turns and might take up more than one lane in a traffic circle. No comment.

Step 8:
Obey all traffic signs and road markings. Obey traffic signs ... HAHAHA! Oh, sorry, were there signs? Really? Only 3? Well how do you expect me to see only 3?

Step 9:
Signal your intent to other drivers when entering, going around and exiting the circle. Signals are optional equipment in these parts. See Law #1 in my post from last year about the DC-area Driving Laws.

So I see why these roundabouts are treacherous, but that guy who decided they'd be a good idea here in the 'burbs obviously takes the Metro to work and does not have to drive through any of them. Every day I thank my lucky stars I make it home from work in one piece (minus a few nerves).

And let us be thankful that we do not live anywhere near one of these.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Taking Responsibility, Revisted

I think I need to stop reading this stuff. How many more times are we going to be asked to help bail out someone who failed to be responsible for themselves?!

Read on (the bold part is my doing):

Schwarzenegger Seeks Federal Disaster Declaration
November 19, 2008

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is asking the Bush administration to declare Southern California a federal disaster site after fires tore through wide swaths of the region.

According to a letter the governor sent to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the state needs help cleaning up after wildfires destroyed more than 800 homes and burned more than 40,000 acres over the weekend.

Schwarzenegger says California needs help cleaning up debris and protecting burned properties from potential flooding.

The governor also requested disaster loans for the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Santa Barbara and San Bernardino. He says many of the residents affected by the fires -- particularly mobile home owners -- lacked insurance or are seriously underinsured.


I'm sorry. I do feel for the displaced people, but if you do not bother to figure out a way to insure your own property, and to the correct amount of its worth, why is this my problem? Can I drop my homeowners insurance and get rebuilt because I am uninsured? Can I fail to adjust my coverage up when the value of my home increases and get someone else to pay the difference? Puleeze! I am sick to death of being expected to bail out people who do not help themselves.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Well, Duh

I read this late last week and I could not believe what I was reading. I have since found other versions of the same article in the WSJ and other (usually) reputable sources, so I feel safe in sharing the article I read. Read on, and judge for yourself. [Note: The bold statements below are my doing.]

A.I.G. to Suspend Millions in Executive Payouts
Published: October 22, 2008

The beleaguered insurer American International Group has agreed to suspend payments to executives from a $600 million bonus fund as well as $19 million in payments to its former chief executive, the New York attorney general announced on Wednesday.

The moves are the latest steps in an effort by the attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, to prevent bonuses and other compensation to former executives at A.I.G., which in recent weeks has received tens of billions of dollars in loans from the Federal Reserve.

“There should not even be any contemplation of bonuses for executive performance because I find it hard to conceive of a situation that you could justify a performance bonus for management that virtually bankrupted the company,” Mr. Cuomo said on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday afternoon.

Regulators and lawmakers have pointed to A.I.G. as an example of excessive greed in corporate America. Although the Treasury Department is imposing limits on compensation to the most highly paid executives at companies that receive government aid, the limits do not address compensation paid in the past or under pre-existing employment contracts.

In A.I.G.’s case, according to Mr. Cuomo’s office, it is unlikely that the limits in the bailout legislation would apply because the company has received money in the form of loans from the Fed, not from transactions with the Treasury Department.

According to a letter Mr. Cuomo sent to A.I.G.’s current chief executive, Edward M. Liddy, the company has agreed to freeze $19 million in remaining payments to Martin J. Sullivan, the company’s former chief executive who was ousted in June. Mr. Cuomo said he did not know how much Mr. Sullivan might have already been paid under his employment contract.

The company also agreed not to make any payments from a $600 million deferred compensation and bonus fund for executives of A.I.G.’s financial products unit, which undertook many of the complex financial transactions that pushed the company to the brink of collapse. Mr. Cuomo said that Joseph Cassano, who headed that unit, stood to receive $70 million from the fund.

“We have received the letter, and the letter is consistent with our discussions with the attorney general and with actions we have taken,” said Joe Norton, a spokesman for A.I.G.

Mr. Cuomo has already called on A.I.G. to help recover payments made to former executives at the company. During the call with reporters, Mr. Cuomo suggested that his actions offered a template for dealing with executive compensation at companies now receiving taxpayer money through the bailout approved by Congress this month.

“Once a company accepts tax dollars, there are different rules,” Mr. Cuomo said. “These are taxpayers who did not voluntarily make an investment in these companies. In many ways it was a forced investment.”

The suspension of payments appears to be the product of negotiation between Mr. Cuomo’s office and A.I.G., but last week the attorney general raised the prospect of using New York law to recover past payments to executives whether the company cooperated or not.

A.I.G.’s spending drew national attention this month after two former executives testified before Congress about pay practices and outsize spending that continued even after the company received an $85 billion bridge loan from the Federal Reserve.

One particular point of contention was a weeklong retreat that a subsidiary, AIG General, held for sales agents. The $442,000 in expenses included $150,000 for food and $23,000 in spa charges. A.I.G., which received an additional $37.8 billion loan from the Fed, later canceled 160 conferences and other events that would have cost more than $8 million.

[PS: I think I like Mr. Cuomo.]

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Too Pooped To Rant, Maybe

I tend to compose blogs in my head while I drive. I think that tendency comes from a habit my college roommate had of speaking in newspaper article titles; for example: "College coed found dead; leaped from the roof after failing mid-term exam." or some such silliness. I spend a lot of time in the car, so I have a lot of time to mentally compose. I also have a lot of material, considering all the stupidity I witness in 15 short miles each way every day.

But tonight, even though I had the whole thing composed, I realize that as I sat down to type I simply do not have the energy to rant any more. I think they wore me out! Being surrounded by stupidity can be very tiring, obviously. Okay, okay, let me give it a try anyway!

They say you should not whine about something unless you also have a solution to suggest to correct the problem. Well, I do!!! Have a suggestion, that is. First, The Problem: Stupid drivers who do not care about the traffic laws which are there NOT to make our lives miserable, but to give some sense of order to the very dangerous task of maneuvering heavy machinery (2000+ pounds of metal on wheels counts as heavy machinery, in my book) with other people doing the same thing. There just HAVE to be rules or there would be anarchy. Apparently we have anarchy even with the rules, but I digress.

So my peeve du jour, and pretty much every jour, is that people do not follow the basic Driving 101 laws, and they think this is okay. And policemen apparently have way too much other stuff to do, so they cannot be bothered with policing the bumper-cars that is my daily commute. I swear, it's a miracle I get to and from work every day without being smashed to smithereens.

My solution? Deputize me! I will stop everyone I can and ticket them for blatantly breaking the law. And I'll do it cleverly disguised as a fellow commuter in a teeny tiny Miata. I'll keep the flashing red light hidden until I need to whip it out and make someone pull over. And I'll do it FOR FREE! I'll do it for the sheer joy of making someone see the error of their ways and put the fear of God into the rest of 'em.

What should you watch for when I have been granted my precious flashing red light? These are the things for which you will be stopped:

1. Changing lanes without using a directional (turn signal, that blinky thing).
2. Tailgating.
3. Changing lanes over and over and over again so you can get one car ahead of where you started.
4. Extra penalty for doing #3 without using a turn signal.
5. Making a one-lane exit into a two-lane exit because you are too good to wait in line like everyone else.
6. Passing on the shoulder because you cannot be bothered to wait until you get to the exit to exit.
7. Crossing a solid white line to merge.
8. Crossing a solid white line to merge without using a directional.
9. Crossing a double solid white line to merge.
10. Turning or exiting right from the left lane.
11. Sliding out of your lane while turning (you know, turning left into the far right lane.)
12. Entering the intersection when you cannot clear the intersection, even if your light is green.
13. Entering the intersection when you cannot clear the intersection when your light is red.
14. Not stopping for a stop sign (you live there, so they must be optional for you.)
15. Not stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks.
16. Tossing trash out the window while driving. This includes cigarette butts, people. Maryland is not your ashtray!
17. Crossing the double solid yellow lines in the middle of the street because a trash truck is stopped and in your way, and doing this without regard to the fact that there is oncoming traffic on the other side of said yellow lines.
18. Passing a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing because, well, just because you could, I guess.
19. Charging to the end of a merge lane so you can get as far up into traffic as you can, causing said moving traffic to stop to let you in, which backs traffic up several miles more than it already was. Forget that someone in a little green Miata left about 5 car lengths (your car lengths) of room for you to merge into moving traffic, but you were going so fast you blew past that opportunity.
20. Honking at someone and gesturing with your arms to see if someone will let you into their driving lane. I guess this is the New Merge, and I hate it.
21. Slowing down to look a the policeman on the shoulder when he has stopped someone.
22. Slowing down to look at the policeman on the shoulder when he has no one stopped.
23. Slowing down to look at an accident.
24. Stopping to look at an accident. Oh, I am sorry, no ticket here. These people should be shot, instead.

I also think the following warrant tickets:
1. Pedestrians who cross against the light and expect you to stop anyway.
2. Pedestrians who cross against the light and slow down their pace when they see they are holding up traffic.
3. Pedestrians who step in front of a moving vehicle (and not in a crosswalk) and expect to get the right of way.
4. People who park in the Fire Lane or the Pick-up Lane at the grocery store because they are too lazy to park in one of the available empty spots in the parking lot.
5. People who are not handicapped and park in the handicapped spots using someone else's handicapped driver hang-tag.

And, as a deputized person, I also plan to make the most grevious offenders re-take the driving portion of their driving test to keep their license.

So how was your day?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

On Taking Responsibility for One's Own Actions

Please note that this rant is based solely on my personal, uninformed opinion, and has probably no basis in fact.

One of my pet peeves is dealing with people who feel no responsibility for themselves or their own actions. It is always someone else's fault. Even axe murderers get off with a hand-slap because they came from a battered childhood. Puleeeze.

So imagine my joy when I hear all this silliness about the Government Bailout for the banking mess. Seven hundred Billion dollars of our collective taxpayer money going to what? As I see it, we would be helping:

(1) The Banks. The banks who were stupid enough to loan money to people who could not afford to make the payments. I had one Real Estate agent explain some of the creative financing to me, and I tell you, it is crazy. Let's say you want a loan for $300,000 (I am making up all these numbers), and the payment on that loan would be $3000 per month. You are given the option of paying (a) $3000/month, (b) interest-only, say $2000 per month, or (c) what you can actually afford, say $1000 per month. So let's say you pay the $1000 per month...what happens to the rest of your monthly payment that you are not paying? It gets tacked on to your loan. The one that you already cannot afford. Now the bank is on the line for a loan that actually grows each month while the homeowner gets to live in the house for next to nothing. This works as long as the value of said property continues to escalate at, or faster than, the amount that the loan is growing. In theory, the house can be sold and the loan paid off.

(2) The Home Buyers. When confronted with a $1000 budget and a $3000 monthly payment, who is stupid enough to agree to a deal like I mentioned above? Anyone with half a brain could see that they simply could not afford that house. I know what the banks will tell you, and they will tell you that you can afford way more than you might be confortable paying. You, the Home Buyer, need to have enough sense to know what you cannot afford, and how to say No.

I see greed here. I see "but I need a house" here. And then the bottom falls out of the housing market. Now the Home Buyer is living in a house they cannot afford, making less than their monthly payment, and The Bank owns a loan that is more than the house is worth, so they panic.

Am I supposed to feel sorry for any of these people? Okay, I am not totally uneducated, nor unscathed by market fluctuations. I built a house in 1980, at the peak of that housing market. I sold that house 5 years later for less than I paid for it. It happens. It was no one's fault but my own.

We had the option of an Adjustable Rate Mortgage. You pay less the first few years, then your rate goes up. I looked at the monthly payment based on the future interest rates to see if, once the rates went up, I was still able to make that larger payment. Then, and only then, would I agree to take an Adjustable Rate Mortgage.

Are all these people so dumb they did not think about the consequences of "what if"? What if the market stops growing this fast? What if the bottom falls out? What if my rate adjusts up?

I guess I just do not understand why this is the taxpayers' problem. I heard that the banks can borrow from the Fed at a low interest rate to get money back into the system and free up some capital. Okay, so why is this not an option?

Here's another one: Home Buyer forecloses - they made some bad choices, so live with it. Banks take over the bad loans. Banks sell the house for the going market rate. Bank takes in a large percentage of the outstanding loan(s). Bank takes a loss. Bank does not fold.

Why - WHY - should I help bail out these banks and home buyers so they can stay in the homes we all know they cannot afford? Could someone please explain this to me? I promise to post a retraction if I am way off base. I just need someone to tell me why these people should be allowed to stay in their homes, and the banks be bailed out, and why no one should take any responsibility for their bad decisions.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hate Telemarketers? Me too!!

First - Yes, I am on the Do Not Call registry. In fact, I can tell you I registered at 8:18 am the first morning they opened up that Web site. About a month after it kicked in, I was able to cancel my Caller Id add-on service since my cold calls dropped from 15 per day to zero. But if they are non-profits, or if they are just doing surveys, they can still bug the crap out of you.

When I get one of these calls, the most I can usually muster is to politely tell the person calling me that whatever they are selling, or giving away, or asking me about in a survey, I am not interested. Then I politely ask them to remove me from their call list, I thank them, and hang up. I do not want that job!

The last person who came to my front door was giving away free home alarm systems. Really? Free? Yep, free. Then I said that if it were free, then there would be no monthly fee to use it, right? Er, no, it was just free installation. Aaaah, so it is NOT a free security system, just free installation. Then I am not interested. He proceeded to tell me about the recent increase in crime in my neighborhood, and I pointed out the No Solicitation sign at the entrance to the neighborhood, then I thanked him and closed the door. I figure he wrote down my address and he'll send someone back to rob me later. So far, so good, though.

But here is someone who got really clever and did something about those cold calls.

Okay, it was a mean thing to do to that poor guy, but on some level, you've gotta love it!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Notta Lotta B1tchin' Goin' On

It's been a quiet few weeks or months at most B1tchin' Blogs, mine included. Whazzup with that? Personally, I rant almost every day on the way home (stupid drivers!), but by the time I get home and see all my stampin' stuff, I start playing and then I am over it. I suppose that's a lot healthier, and maybe we are all just getting over the stupidity surrounding us in our daily lives.

However, as I was catching up my Maxine day-by-day calendar at work last week (it was waaaay behind), I saved a few pages that either made me laugh out loud because they were true, or that so perfectly summed up what I would rant about, they needed nothing added.

So without further ado, here are my rants du jour, a la Maxine:

That last one is for my Beloved Reader #2, and you know who you are! ;-) Oh, wait, am I allowed to have a smiley face on a b1tchin' blog?

Friday, July 25, 2008

I Wish I'd Been There

I just got this in an email with no attached credit, or I'd definitely tell you where it came from (from where it came.) This is a perfect summary of all I think is wrong with a lot of people these days. Ooooh, how I wish I'd been there.


A very self-important college freshman attending a recent football game took it upon himself to explain to a senior citizen sitting next to him why it was impossible for the older generation to understand his generation."You grew up in a different world, actually an almost primitive one." the student said, loud enough for many of those nearby to hear. "The young people of today are much more advanced than people your age. We grew up with television, jet planes, space travel, man walking on the moon and the internet. We have cell phones, nuclear energy, electric and hydrogen cars; computers, automated manufacturing, amazing technologies, ...and...," he paused to take another drink of beer.

The senior took advantage of the break in the student's litany and said, "You're right, son. We didn't have those things when we were young.....so we invented them. Now, you arrogant little shit, what are YOU doing for the next generation?"

The applause was resounding...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

They Cannot Be Bothered (aka: Customer Service, Where Art Thou?)

I was having a really great day; well, except for the fact that most of it was spent at the Day Job, but other than that, things were just going my way, and I was into the Happy Dance phase of the evening...just feelin' good about life, ya know?

The last happy moment I had was when I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things, and I spied a FedEx store in the same plaza. I had a FedEx box to return (stored in the car, just in case...), so I did my final "yippee" and headed across the parking lot with my box under my arm, and went in. At that point things started to go terribly, horribly, downhill.

First, I stood at the counter for at least 5 minutes, with no employee in sight. Finally a young woman came out of the rest room in the back and sauntered up to the counter. All right, I'll give her that - the only one on staff, and ya gotta make a potty stop...it happens! Okay. But then, without so much as a "sorry to keep you waiting", she looked past me with that look like she was doing me a favor by helping me and asked if she could help me. Not even looking at me, mind you, but past me.

I explained that I needed to send the box back to the sender using the sender's FedEx number, and asked her if I could do that here. The address I had scribbled from the mailing label was in the following format:

Company Name
PO Box xxx
123 Street Name
City, State 12345

and I pointed out that I had copied it directly from the mailing label (and I pointed to the label), which I had not taken off the box or covered up yet, as I was not familiar with their process for labels.

She proceeded to tell me she cannot send to a PO Box. Well, that really did not answer my question, so I asked if I could send the box to the street address, which was also listed, using the recipient's FedEx account number. She then decided to look at me, though it was in total frustration, complete with rolling eyes, and she told me I did not let her finish. Finish what?

She asked if this was the correct address, as it had both a PO Box and a street address. Uh, yes, and I pointed to the original shipping label again. She then tossed me a form to fill in, turned her back on me and went to help someone else.

I filled in the form, looked up, and lo and behold - I saw employee #2! Hmmm ... unattended front counter for at least 5 minutes with no one checking on the new customer. Duly noted. (Heck - McDonald's employees promise to serve you within 90 seconds, don't they?)

So employee #2 offerred to help me with the package. But she was in slow motion, and also gave me the sense that she was doing me a favor, complete with heavy sighing, cracking gum, the whole works. What's up with that, anyway? Is it the new rage? There is a woman at our Credit Union with the same, exact attitude and gum, and I just stay way from there. Great way to lose customers....

So anyway, after about another 5 minutes, during which time she did a lot of looking at the form and a little keying into the register/machine thingy, I asked her if the form I had filled in contained a label, because if it did not, then I'd be glad to fill one in while I waited (hint, hint). Nope, it had a mailing label...good! Glad I asked.

Then she went to put the label on the box, taking great pains to not cover up the original label. I had to stop her and point out the original label, and maybe she wanted to cover it up with the new one? She sighed heavily and did just that.

Gracious! What a total pain in the behind! I decided then and there what my problem is: I cannot go out in public any more. Nope, can't do it. My expectations of common courtesy are apparently way too high for today's society, and I figure the best way for me to not blow a gasket is to just avoid these people altogether. There is almost nothing I cannot do over the Internet, and for everything else, I'll do it in the early mornings when these helpless, lazy people are undoubtedly still in bed.

It's funny, though. I actually blame the Internet for most of today's social ills. We have several generations of people who have cyber-friends, who text their pals or call them on cell phones 24/7, and never actually deal with anyone face-to-face. They are totally into themselves and what they want, and I am just an old b1tch they can point to and laugh.

So I'll continue to do my grocery shopping in the early mornings. I'll shop for office supplies and ink cartridge replacements online. I already shop for most of my clothing online, if I shop for it at all. I get most of my crafting stuff online, except for trips to the LSS, where they know my name and trip over each other to help their customers. If you have a question about a product, they will do their best to help you. If they do not have something, they will order it for you, and call you when it comes in. Gee, I guess I am spoiled, huh?

I am just sick to death of giving my business to companies who hire people that cannot be bothered with helping me, their customer. Too bad, too; that FedEx store could have been convenient for me...

Friday, July 4, 2008


This is not a b1tch; it's more of a question...something that bugs me.

When I saw this picture in People Magazine a few weeks ago, I had to stop and stare.

The question begging to be asked here is: Do you think they practice those fake smiles in front of their mirrors? Do you know anyone who actually smiles like that? Do you think men find these smiles attractive? Do you think anyone does?

What's the point? I am truly perplexed.

(They are smiles, right?)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hollerin' For Your Food

As a customer, I refuse to holler for my food. I do not like standing far back in a line and having someone wave at me from across the room and ask me what I want on my sandwich. Okay, maybe I exaggerate a bit, but not that much, really.

Chipotle. The drill is: You stand in line until you get to the front and Employee #1 asks you what you want. Employee #1 also does Step 1 of the prep for your order, either slapping a tortilla onto a piece of foil or grabbing the Bol, then putting rice or whatever in the vessel, and sliding it aside to Employee #2. Then Employee #1 asks the next person what they want, etc.

You step to the left, and Employee #2 asks what kind of meat you want, then slides your item to Employee #3. Employee #3 asks you what toppings you want, then slides your item to Employee #4, who wraps it up or otherwise prepares it for delivery to you, then slides it into a line for the people at the register(s) to take care of payment.

This sounds like a decent plan, a well-oiled machine, and in a perfect world, or at least not during the lunch or dinner rush, it just might work. But during the lunch or dinner rush, this is a bottleneck waiting to happen. You see, #1 takes your order and slides it to #2, etc. But since they are little non-thinking machines, they crank through those babies faster than the poor guys on the register can ring them up, so a back-log is created. Understandably so. This is not a problem.

What is a problem is #2, 3 & 4 do not stop their automation. They insist on taking care of you, even when they are so far away from you (due to the slew of people waiting to pay) that they yell over to you, waving their arms to get your attention, and try to finish your item so it can get in line with the rest of them and wait for payment.

Unfortunately, this is not a customer-friendly arrangement. Why, just last week, someone got out of line (3 or 4 people behind me) to answer the waving-arm person about her toppings, and then she felt that since her order was complete, it was her right to butt in at the front of the line and pay immediately, ahead of the rest of us who were waiting our turns. She caused much disgruntlement, and happily (for me) she had to wait until her sandwich made it to the front before she could pay (oh, do I sound bitter?)

My point is, no matter how many of these orders they stack up, the line cannot move any faster than the guy can take the money from people. So why, why, why, do they insist on hollering at me to shout out what I want for my toppings? I actually have begun to refuse to do so. I wait until I get in front of them, then tell them what I'd like. And you know what? No one is held up, since there are still enough people in front of me who have not paid that no one is going anywhere, anyway. I find this plan so much more civilized.

Okay, that's Chipotle. Today I went to Subway. Same thing. The woman in front of me was hollerin' to person #3 what she wanted on her sandwich, then #3 looked to me to ask what I wanted, but I refused to yell past 4 other people, so I held up my forefinger in a "just a minute" motion, and she got pissed off, so #3 slid my sandwich aside and yelled at the guy behind me to ask what he wanted on his sandwich. Fortunately, he was with me, so he refused to holler, too. ;-) Compound this adventure with the knowledge that none of the #s 1-3 speak English, and it gets even more exciting. Try asking for "any cheese besides American" and you'll get a blank stare. Ask for "just a little" of something and they look to each other for translation. If I have to deal with non-English-speaking workers, I refuse to do it while yelling past 3 or 4 other people. Even after I'd had my sandwich built and packed for me, I still had to wait for the cashier to take care of several people in front of me before he got to mine.

So what's the deal here? Are these people just super-efficient, and they get points for not being the reason for the backlog? Is Customer Service not an issue in whatever country they left? Or is this a training issue with the various fast-food establishments that they feel "fast" is better than making the customer feel like they are important. Or am I still deluding myself into thinking anyone still cares about good customer service any more?

I mean, it's bad enough that I am eating fast food, but I actually get better service at a place like McDonald's or Burger King, or really anywhere that the people actually talk to you first. Yeah, sure, you are still a number to them as far as order fulfillment, but at least you do not feel like they are throwing your food at you. And they do not yell at you, or make you holler for your food, either.

Maybe that's why I eat in the cafeteria so much these days. True, the food can be unappealing at times, or totally boring (how many salads can one eat in a week?), but if I am in a food line, the server asks me, to my face, what I'd like, and actually treats me like a person, not a number. There's something to be said for that.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Some People's Kids

I have a fairly low tolerance for rude people, who usually start out as rude children. I raised my kids to be polite, and it really was not all that tough, but I guess some people do not see the value in it.

I just had to go to the upstairs neighbor's condo, again, and ask if someone was bouncing a ball. The little girl, I'd say about 8, answered the door. Yes, she was bouncing a ball, and I asked her to please stop. Her mother is not home, and I am not sure anyone else is, either.

This is the same little girl I asked last year to stop bouncing the ball indoors, that time in the presence of her older brother, and her mom was upstairs, unaware.

This is the same little girl I had to ask to stop throwing the ball against her front door and letting it bounce into the street, or into my car. Each bounce also rattled my ceiling. And nerves. One of my other neighbors told me she had mentioned the same thing (ball bouncing into her car) to the girl's Mother, and apparently nothing has been done. I no longer park my car anywhere near their front door.

This is the same girl who, from behind closed door and apparently not-closed window, screamed "Old Bitch" to the neighbor who had asked her to please stop kicking her ball into her car. My neighbor calmly yelled back, "I am not old!", and the girl ran away from the window.

This is the same little girl I have asked to stop kicking the ball against the side of the house because it kept slamming into my screens and windows in the window well. When she did it again right after I went back into the house, I came running out and she had darted into her unit and bolted the door, leaving her ball in the window well. I retrieved the ball, went up her stairs and knocked on her door, asked her if this was her ball, and she took it and closed the door in my face. I was stupid. I should have just kept the ball.

I do not approve of latch-key kids that are that young. I do not approve of kids who have no respect for other people's property. I have no respect for parents who do not instill a basic sense of right and wrong in their children. I have no tolerance for rudeness, especially from children.

If the Mother of these children is home, she is in the car, on the cell phone. I can appreciate her situation - working and having kids, but that is no excuse for not teaching your children right from wrong, and basic politeness and respect for others and their property.

I expect a certain level of respect - child-to-elder, if nothing else.

The other neighbor's son who is about 15 or 16 is painfully polite and respectful. He will go far.

Oh, great, now she has the tv at full volume, and it is drowning out my tv. I stayed home with a headache today, and between the bouncing ball and now the blaring tv, I think I may have to have a word with the Mother. I am sure they all think I am a b1tch, but you know what, people who know me know that I am not. I feel sorry for these kids, but I should not have to suffer their rudeness. I could move, but that does not solve anything. Sigh. I need to go take some more medication and see if I can kick this pounding in my head.

Friday, April 25, 2008

On Being Right. Dead Right.

I may be dating myself, but I remember when the concept of Defensive Driving became popular. One of the TV commercials back then had the line about "being right. Dead right." It was talking about taking the right-of-way when it was yours without thinking or looking to see if it was safe to do so. I thought about this tonight on the way home from work.

Today was a picture-perfect day for driving home on the back roads with the rag-top down. Sunny, clear, not too hot. I took the back, twisty, shaded roads on purpose, and it was sweet.

At one point, the road comes to a one-lane bridge. My direction has no stop sign, but at the other side of the one-lane bridge are two stop signs - one to the left and one to the right. When you cross the bridge from my side, you have to go left or right.

Anyway, my side always has the right-of-way. As I approached the bridge, all relaxed and happy with my choice of roads, I stopped. This is because even though I had the right-of-way, one of the vehicles on the other side had already commited himself to turning onto the bridge, so I waited for him to pass, then started across. But then the car on the other side pulled onto the bridge, so I stopped to let him go. In my mind, it was the end of the day, it was gorgeous out, and I was in no hurry to get to the grocery and buy TP.

Apparently the guy behind me thought differently. When the first car started across the bridge, he almost hit me, thinking I should have been moving or something. Where?!?! Did he expect me to start across the one-lane bridge so I could collide head-on with the approaching vehicle? Yes, I did have the right-of-way, but what choice did I have? I guess I could have started across and made the other guy back up, but what's the point of that? It was easier to just let him go.

Then when I started again, and the other clown beat me onto the bridge (I'll call him aggressive, and not paying attention, okay?), the guy behind me laid on his horn, stuck his head out of his window and yelled obscenities at me. I raised my hands in the air as the other vehicle passed me after crossing the bridge as if to say What? Where did you want me to go? Right INTO the guy?!?! At this point, he was waiving his arms and pounding on his dash board. I thought he'd blow a gasket.

As I crossed the bridge, with Ranting Guy right on my bumper, I put on my directional to let him know I was planning to slow down and turn to the right, and as soon as I did he proceeded to peel off to the left. Good riddence!

There went my nice, Friday, end-of-the-week, beautiful-day mood. Now I was steamed! I went on to the grocery store, and after I was done and loaded all my goods in my car, I returned the grocery cart to the store (hey, that's what I do - the right thing!). As I was crossing the main drive in front of the store to return to my vehicle, I was almost hit by some young punk going about 40 mph in the parking lot. I had the right of way (being the pedestrian), and I was 2/3 of the way across the street, fer crissake. It was not like I'd just stepped off the curb in front of a moving vehicle! The guy almost did not stop! I actually stopped to make sure he was not going to hit me! Jerk! He finally did stop, but I am convinced it was my wicked old-lady evil eye that put the fear of God into him. Jerk. Did I already say that?

Needless to say the mood was broken. To the point that I did not feel like stamping tonight. Sigh. Thanks for reading this far ... I needed to vent so I can go to bed and sleep now. Bah.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Making Change

Why can't people make change any more without the cash register telling them the answer? I was paying for my lunch the other day and the check-out person was making change the way I do: by starting with the amount and adding coins up to the next denomination. For example, if my lunch was $4.35 (yeah, right!) and I paid for it with a $10 bill, then change would be a nickel (to get to 40) and a dime (50), then 50 more cents (75, a dollar) to get to $5, then a $5 bill to get to $10. Done. I congratulated her on knowing how to do that, and she just laughed. Apparently she and I are the two remaining people in the world who make change this way.

I sell cards at a Farmers Market every Saturday from May - October, and I make a lot of change. Most people just take it, but one woman stood there looking very puzzled. She'd paid for a $7.68 amount with a $20 bill, so I took two pennies (69, 70), then a nickle (75), then a quarter (8), then two singles (10), then a 10 and handed it to her. She stared at me and asked, "What are you doing?" Making change. It's not like I had a cash register or anything, so how else would one make change?

When my kids were little, I taught them the "old fashioned" way of making change by paying for small items with very large bills when playing Monopoly. I'd pay for a $120 property with a $500 bill, even though I had the correct amount in smaller bills. Hey, I was teaching a lesson, here! They'd roll their eyes and walk though it. $120 plus what makes $200? 80. They'd take out 80 from the bank, starting with the tens: 120 plus 10 gives 130 ... 140 ... 150. Plus what makes 200? So they'd grab a 50. They now had $80 out, and were up to $200. Plus what makes 500? Three 100s would come out. Done. Okay, so 500 - 120 is what? 380. Right! My boys can make change today without a cash register or calculator to help them, and yes, I am very proud.

I am one of those people who pays for things with a little extra change, just to throw people off. If my total is $12.26 and I pay for it with a $20, I also give the cashier a penny. Then they stare at me. They have no concept of what I am trying to do besides make their life miserable. If I give them the penny, they can give me 75 cents change instead of 74, and that totally freaks them out, because the "answer" was 7.74. I usually explain it to them, they give me my change and then move on to the next customer, probably thinking I am a wacko. Too bad. Those people will never be able to work a table at a yard sale or craft fair because without the electronic gizmos, they are helpless.

And come to think of it, when someone just hands you change, how do they know it is the correct amount? Because the machine tells you it is right? What if it was rigged or something? Who'd ever know? *I* would!!

My kids grew up in a world with calculators, PDAs, cell phones and computers, and honestly, they do not know anything else. It would be like asking me to live without electricity, I guess. I am not asking them to give up the electronics, I just think it should be required for people to learn how to make change without the cash register to give them the answer.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Case For Good Punctuation

From a news article:

The young family stayed in a swanky hotel, where at one point Britney Spears reportedly was in the downstairs lobby, ate incredible food and rode in limousines.

So who ate incredible food and rode in limousines? The young family or Britney?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Indoor Voices and Personal Space

I think I am becoming one of those little old ladies that just complains all the time. The phrase "Back in the good old days ..." enters my mind a lot. And "what ever happened to ..." in reference to things like manners and common sense.

One situation that comes to mind is the time someone stood right outside my cube and talked - real loud - on his cell phone. When I turned around and looked at him, he said it was the only place he could get a signal. Uh-huh. What about OUTSIDE? What about the fact we have a No Personal Cell Phones rule, too?!? I said something to my boss and he offered to get me a White Noise machine since I was so sensitive to these things. Grrrrrrrr. But I digress. (And I no longer work in that area!)

This week I'd finally had enough of people in Cubeville without Indoor Voices. When you live in Cubeville, at least 12 people can hear everything you say, and that is if you speak in a normal voice, like on the phone, or to someone who is in your cube for the purpose of having a conversation with you. That does not bother me too much; I just don't make any personal phone calls at my desk, and I try not to listen to other people who do. It is part of life in cubes.

But when people stand just outside my cube aisle and talk like they are outside, it gets to be too much. I really don't care what they did last night, or what they plan to do this weekend, or where they plan to go for lunch. The whole concept of "people can hear you" does not phase them one bit.

This week, as the conversations got louder and more frequent, I'd look over at the 20-something guy that sits in the cube across from me to see if he was bothered by it, too. He was. And he is usually plugged in to an iPod, so if HE heard them, it was loud.

The first few times I got out of my chair and poked my head around the corner - they were literally within 7 feet of our cubes. When they looked up, I'd say something like, "Please keep it down...we're trying to work here ..." or "Could you please take this conversation somewhere else? " They usually looked surprised, ended the conversation and went back to work.

But then the next batch of people would come along and it would start all over again, and I got tired of asking them to leave. So I broke down and printed several street-like signs to inform the loiterers that they might be bothering others. Things like "No Loitering" and "Please be considerate of your fellow associates working very near here. Thank you." But why should I have to do this??!? Why aren't these people at their desks working? I wish I had time to hang out in the aisles and chat...

Then, as I stood in line at the Post Office tonight, the lady behind me was talking, and I thought it was to me. Nope - she was plugged in and talking to a phone. I looked at her and she looked away and kept talking. What's so important that it cannot wait until she was back in her car? Then the woman behind her started talking into her cell phone and the first woman stared at her. HA! Bothers you, huh? Well guess what, lady, you BOTH bother me! Just stuff a sock in it and stand quietly for 5 minutes. Sheesh!

Then there's college student who was standing on a stairwell and talking on her cell phone. Apparently it was a fairly private conversation, but what she did not know is the echo from the stairwell carried her voice to all the rooms and offices around the stairs, and about 30 people were listening in. My friend, who worked in one of the offices within ear-shot, went up to her and tapped her on the shoulder. The girl turned around, irritated, and said it was a private conversation. Uh, no it's not. She looked around, turned red and left.

Then there was my son's HS graduation a few years ago. Big basketball arena. Big signs on the outside of every door to the place (1) No Air Horns, and (2) No Saving Seats. So I get to an empty row of seats and sit in the middle. In walks two moms and a few kids who proceed to sit on opposite ends of any free seats, lay their coats across them, and tell people they are saved. Once the lights go out and the ceremony starts, each of the chatty teenagers in these two rows of now-full seats takes out a cell phone and starts text-messaging or calling other teens in other rows and talking and laughing. And not quietly. After I asked them several times to please keep it down, one of the mothers turned around, looked at me, and asked me what was the matter. I told her all I asked was for the girls to turn off their phones and be quiet long enough for me to hear my son's name announced so I could leave. She shook her head, made a "whatever" face, and turned back around. Surprise! Guess where those girls got their training and good manners. I heard the Principal announce my son's name finally (thank goodness he was one of the Valedictorians so he was in the first group), then I left. What's wrong with these people!!?!?!? Oh, and yes, there were air horns, too. Not next to me, though, or I would have gone postal, for sure.

The whole concept of personal space is lost on several generations of people, and it irritates us old folks to no end. What's the matter with kids today!?! (Name that movie!) But it's not just kids, it's their parents, too. I think I know why I stay home so much now...

I read a really good book a while back by Lynne Truss called "Talk to the Hand", and it is subtitled "#?*! The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt The Door". A woman after my own heart. She also wrote "Eats, Shoots & Leaves", about the lack of spelling and punctuation abilities in the world today (another favorite peeve of mine), but that's a rant for another day. In the "Talk to the Hand" book, she mentions one of her methods of dealing with someone sitting next to you in an airport waiting area while talking loudly into a cell phone. She starts to read out loud. This usually irritates the talker to the point they either (1) realize they are bothering someone and hang up, or (2) they keep talking, but they get up and move somewhere else. Either way, she gets what she wants - quiet! Like I said, a woman after my own heart!

Anyway, enough ranting for now. I am not even sure any of this makes sense, but I feel better for having unloaded. ;-) And that's what it's all about, right?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Check out this list of announcements from a company publication (edited slightly to protect the guilty):

> Start walking for heart health today, April 16.

> Yoga starts today, April 16; space is limited – first come, first served.

> Order your See’s Candies now for Mother’s Day.

> Purchase Pizza on Friday, April 18.

I rest my case.

Friday, April 11, 2008

I Love Maxine (Second-Hand B1tch)

I have a page-a-day Maxine calendar this year, and some of these are priceless!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Why Don't People LISTEN?!

I had a doctor appointment today, and part of the routine is the ole weigh-in and blood pressure station. Two nurses. Here's how the conversation went:

Nurse 1: Does she need blood work?
Nurse 2: No.
-Blood Pressure Cuff applied here, and it pumps for a long while. -
Me: I cannot feel my hand. Could we take a break? Why is it running so long, anyway?
Nurse 2: Your pressure must be really high.
Me: No way. I have always had a very, very low blood pressure. Maybe it is so low it cannot be read?
-Cuff reapplied and fired up again...pumps for a while. -
Nurse 2: It's not registering your pressure. Must be too high. Let's forget it.
Me: No, it's low...
Nurse 1: Does she need blood work?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

New Venue

Welcome to my new bitchin' blog! I've decided to keep all my rants off my stampin' site, The Crooked Stamper, but I still need an outlet... if only so I can spew it all out into cyberspace so I can sleep nights. I should not listen to so much NPR when I commute - makes me yell at the radio.

I'll be back soon with a few recent rants I have brewin'. ;-)