Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Can I help who's next?- or- The downfall of customer service

In this country at least, "Can I help who's next?" has become a common phrase. It assaults my ears every time I hear it, like nails on a chalkboard. In the long form it would be, "Can I help who is next?" It's really two questions strung together, "Can I help?", "Who's next?" There are so many other ways to phrase it that would be fine. The two I just mentioned, "Can I help the next person in line?" or, how about that personal touch, "Can I help you?" (look directly at the person you are speaking to). Could customer service go that far? To actually make eye contact?
Another favorite of mine, is when I walk up to a cashier, and without looking up, they blurt out, "Can I help you sir?" Yes, I am a carpenter, I wear work boots, carpenter pants, and sweatshirt, or some other masculine drably colored garb. I'm not particularly curvy, and I have short hair, but I don't smell bad or flash any butt crack. (sorry guys, for that sweeping generalization)
I'm always a bit put off by this however because I feel that the "sir" is thrown in as a measure of respect, yet this person has not even focused on me, and correctly determined my gender. Once they look at me, they get all embarrassed and red, and apologize, and I have to wonder, how often does this happen to this cashier or salesperson? Because it happens to me a lot. I find the best way to respond to this, is simply smile, while burning a hole through their forehead using my evil-eye-heat-vision. Yes, I could dress in pink, and grow my hair, and put a scrunchy in it, but I'd rather be looked at by the people addressing me. Is that too much to ask?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday Movies

I like love movies! I watch very little television, but I do have a large pull down movie screen, and projector, a very good sound system and a movie collection of about 400 DVDs so far. I watch several movies a week, and thought I would make a movie review on Mondays, part of my blog. I will review the best and the worst movie I saw this past week. This may bore some of you to tears, but I don't mind! I belong to Netflix and they use a 5 star rating system, which I think is insufficient so I will use a six star system.

  1. Hated it (wasted 2 whole hours of my life)
  2. Didn't like it
  3. Not bad, but not recommendable
  4. Liked it
  5. Liked it a lot
  6. Loved it (these are the ones I buy)

This weeks best and worst:

Stomp the Yard was the best movie this week. I give it 4 stars. The part of this film that I really like is the "stepping" that they do throughout the movie. This is a combination of precision drill team and dance. Since I have done both, it is of particular interest to me. The storyline is eh, okay. If you happened to see Drumline, this is pretty much the same movie; just plug in the different activity. It is possible that if you're not me, or someone exactly like me, you may not enjoy this movie as much as I did. In fact if there had been more stepping and less story, I'd have rated it even higher! Sick.

Fear X is one of the worst pieces of garbage I've sat through in a long time. I give it 2 stars. I'd give it 1, but I have to save 1 for something really offensive, not just plain lame. Plus, I did sit though the whole thing. What made me do it? John Turturro, of course. This guy can really do scary! If you saw Secret Window staring Johnny Depp you know what I'm talking about. He's a good actor overall, so I kept waiting for the movie to start, for him to snap. Well, I was still waiting when the credits started to roll. What a slow moving, non-gripping, cure for insomnia this movie was. In fact, the look on his face on the cover of the DVD jacket is the same look I had on my face for the entire movie.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

7 Ways I'm Weird

From one of very most favorite bloggers, Heartinsanfrancisco's blog, Guilty With an Explanation, I have been passively tagged with this meme. I am called upon to describe 7 ways I'm weird, or random facts about me:

1. When I was around 5 years old, I asked my mother; who was my mother before her. (I'm not adopted)

2. I spent about a month homeless, immediately preceding my signing up to join the army. I sneaked into a college dorm late at night behind someone that lived there, and slept in a broom closet. I was up and out very early in the morning before anyone discovered me.

3. Some women followed me from a bar where I worked one night, to my car, and tried to break into it to hurt or kill me. I got the doors locked just in time. They tried to break the windows, then they pulled their car up behind mine to try to trap me, and I saw one pull a shot gun out of the trunk. I took off, over a sidewalk to get away and they chased me in their car through the streets of Hartford. I ran every red light I came to, to try to attract the attention of the police, but nothing. I finally made it back to the bar, and ran back inside, where the 400 pound bouncer, Patrick would protect me.

4. I spent 2 years in Virginia with a bicycle as my only mode of transportation.

5. When I lived in L.A. , I danced in a gay country western meets Las Vegas show girls dance group called The Men and Women of the Midnight Cowboys. We performed at Gay Pride festivals, The San Diego Gay Rodeo, and GLAD media awards.

6. I packed up my life and moved to California without ever having been there. I didn't know anyone, or have a job. I prepaid a month for a room in a house, and had a months worth of rent and grocery money on me.

7. I have an uncanny memory for song lyrics. I learn them very quickly, and don't seem to ever forget them. I can hear a song I haven't heard in over 30 years, and still know the words.

Again, I would like to add; if you would like to do this meme, please consider yourself tagged and have fun!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

First Snow

A treeGoldfinches

A titmouse on the birdbath heater, a snow bird, and a dove.
Another titmouse, and a chickadee.
I woke this morning when my clock radio shattered the silence with of all things, Christmas music! Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, but this annoyingly early start can make even me, sick of it before it even gets here. I looked up from my warm bed, the house is cold in the morning, and saw snow covering the skylight. Oh bother, I'm really not ready for this. I am working in my workshop today, so I don't need to go anywhere but if I did have to, it would not bode well for me. I haven't yet added hundreds of pounds to the bed of my truck for traction. Of course it's four wheel drive, but it still needs weight in the back. This is something I left off of my earlier post of ways I'd rather not spend my time. Anyhoo, although I bitch and moan about the snow, it is quite beautiful and the birds don't seem to mind it at all. These are a few of the birds in my backyard this morning.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


I made some very nice friends this year from my golf league, among them two wonderful women, who have enjoyed spending close to 28 years together. They are clearly still in love and an inspiration. They offered up some relationship advice to me, and I gladly took it.

"When people ask us how we've stayed together so long we tell them it's because of the 4 C's." one of them said.

"Okay, I'll bite, what are they?" I asked.

They told me, and now I'm going to tell you, because after thinking it through, I am sure that they are the necessary ingredients for a successful relationship. I realized how many times I have failed when only three out of the four were strong.

1. Chemistry

2. Compatibility

3. Communication

4. Comedy

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Guilty Six Meme

I was tagged by heartinsanfrancisco while visiting the blog Guilty With an Explanation

6 guilty pleasures no one would suspect me of having:
1. I like to watch Spongebob Squarepants

2. Gaming, I love PS2 games like Kingdom Hearts
3. Ben & Jerry's Dublin Mudslide, the whole pint.
4. Singing at the top of my lungs in the car.
5. Starbucks triple vente sugar free vanilla non-fat latte.
6. Puffing but not inhaling on a big nasty macanudo gold cigar with a glass of port

6 guilty pleasures I wish I had the courage to indulge:
1. Run in and complete a marathon
2. White water kayaking

3. Build a wooden strip canoe
4. Start painting (oils)
5. Skydive
6. Get a tattoo

6 pleasures I once considered guilty but have either abandoned or made peace with:
1. Spending the entire day on a motorcycle ride
2. Enjoying a glass of red wine with dinner even when I dine alone
3. Indulging my shoe fetish
4. Golfing twice a week

5. Season opera tickets
6. Putting my needs ahead of others.

Like heartinsanfrancisco, I would like to add that if you'd like to do this meme, consider yourself tagged. I'll see it when I visit you next!

Monday, November 12, 2007

My Great Uncle Bert

In the beginning of September, I attended a family reunion in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. It was my stepfather's father's side of the family. He reconnected with them while I was living in California, and this was my first opportunity to go and meet some of his extended family on his father's side. The setting was beautiful, a large lodge on a private beach in a gigantic privately owned nature reserve.
My stepfather's father has been deceased for many years. Although my stepfather has been part of my life for about 35 years now, long enough for me to call him Dad, I had never met his dad. My Great Uncle Bert was his father's brother. I gravitated to him immediately, and he to me. He was a wonderful old character, in his late eighties, but sharp as a whip. We sat and talked about my vocation, which he'd wished had been his, and building boats. He's done it, and I've always dreamed of doing it, once I retire. I convinced him we should start a company, building hand made wooden strip canoes called "Wickapissa Canoe Company." (That's Maine speak , it's "wicked pisser" which means really cool, with a Maine accent) I really enjoyed meeting, and spending time with him and his wife of 54 years, Jean, who is a total nature buff and in great shape. A couple weeks after the reunion Bert wrote me a letter saying how great it was to meet me, and that I was a grand niece, and he was sure I'd think of him as a great uncle. Bert passed away this weekend. He died from cancer. I'm sure he'd of been around another 15 years if he hadn't had it. I feel cheated that someone I had such a strong connection to, was taken away so quickly, but it cannot compare to the pain of those who've known him a lifetime and lost him. I'd like to do what I think Bert would do at a time like this. Tell a joke, of his, in his Maine accent so you get the full effect:
Henry and Matha have been married fa fottysome yeeahs. One day Henry goes to the docta and says, "Doc, I think Matha's havin some trouble hearin these days, but I don't know watt ta do about it, it's a touchy subject round a(her).
Doc: "Okay Henry, heeahs wattcha do. Get about 50 feet away from Matha, and see if she can hear you, if she can't, move in 10 feet and try again. Keep doin it 'til she heeahs ya, then come let me know how close ya had ta get."
So, that night Henry goes out on the poch off the livin room, about 50 feet away and yells, " Hey Matha, watts fa suppa?" No answer. Henry goes into the livin room where he's about fotty feet away, "Matha, watts fa suppa?" Still no answer. So Henry makes his way inta the dinnin room, where's he's about 30 feet from Matha. This time he cups his hands around his mouth, (Bert does this) "Hey, Matha, Watts fa suppa?" Nothing. Henry's worried, he goes to the doahway of the kitchen , 20 feet away, "Matha, watts fa suppa?" Still nothing. He gets 10 feet from where she's sittin with her back to him and he says, "Matha, I'd like ta know, watts fa suppa?" She replies, "Godammit Henry, fa the fifth time, It's Chicken!"

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Blind Date Falls Flat

I have learned from experience that when your friends set you up, it's usually a disaster, so when I allow this to happen, I go in with very low expectations. In this case the couple that was setting me up was coming along as a double. I enjoy their company, so I knew the evening would not be a complete loss. I was to meet them at the designated restaurant at 6:15. Parking was a headache, and while I was still looking for a spot, I got a flat tire. A tire purchased only 7 months ago. I must have run over a bottle or something. I was in my very large truck I use for my business. I limped it into a parking lot, and left it in a no parking zone. While on the phone with AAA, I walked to the restaurant. They said someone would be there in about an hour, and they'd call me on my cell, so I could meet the guy back at my truck. I figured that would be just about when the food arrived at the table. Would this story be part of the answer to the question, "How did you two meet?"
My friends were there when I got there, and my date arrived soon after. Upon meeting her, I felt like my tire, deflated. Was the flat tire an omen? We all made the best of it, and had a nice meal. I missed the call from AAA, because my ringer was off (oops), so we all walked to my truck after dinner, and no surprises, the tire was still flat. I placed a second call, they said about an hour, I asked them to call me when the driver was close, and we walked to a place for desert. When they called back, one of my friends and I set back out to meet the guy. He could not get my spare tire down, which is a full size tire mounted under the truck bed. He fiddled and waggled around with a long metal rod meant to lower the tire but it wouldn't work. He called someone else, who arrived and also couldn't get the spare down. They determined that the mechanism was broken, no doubt from when I was rear-ended this summer, and had to tow the truck away. About an hour passed while my friend and I stood there witnessing the string of non-events in the cold. The tow truck was a flat bed. Watching the driver try to get my truck on his truck was an event! First he pulled it up with the winch, and my truck was too long. All the way up the back tires were only half on the bed. He had to lower it down and shortened the chain on the winch to pull the truck up really close to the winch. After that, the whole truck was on, so he started to lower the ramp to level it out, and as the tow truck took the weight of my truck, the front tires of the tow truck came right off the ground! That was scary to watch.
I said "Nice to meetcha." to my date, and my friends brought me home, where I remain, stranded. Now can I make the rule? No More Blind Dates!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Thanksgiving Day is On the Horizon

Thanksgiving Day with the fam. My Mother always makes a fabulous Thanksgiving meal. I'm usually there in the kitchen with her all day helping to get everything done. Food preparation is and always has been an art for her. She puts all kinds of work and special care into producing a gorgeous dinner with everyone's favorites, and trust me, it's a mamoth undertaking. When my family gets together, it's like a photo shoot for disfunctinality. My older sister won't be there, never is, hasn't participated in being part of the family for some 15 years now. My step-brother comes because his mother is not a good cook. He usually regales us with some biggoted story about the customers at the Stop & Shop where he is the produce manager. He is not amusing, and I have found there is no amount I can drink to make him funny. My younger sister, who was blessed with a very quick but also mean spirited wit, shows up just in time for food, and waits for the opportunity to strike. It always comes, and she makes the first cut. Usually the turkey is still being sliced when this occurs. No one in my family is ill-epuiped to respond to this kind of attack, so there will be a counter, sometimes sharper than the first. Sometimes that will stave off the attack temporarily, but she waits, like a snake in the grass. Often things will escalate until my Mother who has worked so hard, gets upset because we have ruined another perfectly good holiday get together. Sometimes when we're lucky, things can be contained, and no one is mortally wounded. When this happens, we are all very pleased that we made it through a holiday with the fam. (whew)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Falling Back

Did anyone show up early for work today? I am taking a care of Scout, my god dog! She is a very cute little Yorkie mix, and when she's here, I have 3 dogs, small medium and large. She has a habit of waking up at 7:30 every morning and making sure everyone else is up too. We don't want to miss anything. Well, we set the clocks back, but somehow she didn't pick up on that. So, Sunday morning it was wakey wakey at 6:30am. Rise and shine! I have already shared, I'm sure, that I am not a morning person, especially not a Sunday morning person, so she is lucky to be alive. Oh yeah, don't forget about World Peace! The day to blog for peace is the 7th. I posted mine early in case some of you don't know about the peace globe. Go get one and customize it for your blog. Here's a link Be good humans!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Because I Said So!

Whenever I find myself unhappy at my job, I just remember what it was like to feel the way this person felt when they did this. Being your own boss is great!