Monday, April 30, 2007

Perfect morning

“You rang?”

“I was calling to say I’d go with you guys but you already left,” I say.

“We’re sitting in the driveway.”

“I’ll be right down.”

And so Saturday began: Walkies on the river trail with my two favorite guys.
Bright green tufts of grass. Mounds of moss. Tiny clusters of purple and white flowers. Crocus.

And Gromit, peeing on all of it.
A woman runs by.

“Whew,” Jim whispers. “She has your old boobs.”
We talk about everything and nothing, as couples do.

We fantasize about simplifying our lives – selling everything and moving to the country. Or the city.

We talk about the things we need to do. The things we need to get.

“What about a Prius?” I ask.

“Do you really want to drive a car that sounds like an STD?” says Jim. “’Doctor, I think I have Prius. You might need to lance it.’”
Two weeks ago you had to squint to see the green on the trail. It looked like hope.

Now everything is bright and bursting -- exuberant green.

It looks like joy.
I am listening to: Blue October - Hate Me
I am reading: Neil
And I am: Relaxed

Friday, April 27, 2007

My second life

At home on Wednesday, illin’ and chillin’ from the big hoo-ha software conference, I decided to check out Second Life.

Have you heard of this?

It’s a virtual reality world where people can buy and sell land, own businesses, and (more coolio than Julio) fly.

You start out choosing a name for yourself. Any first name will do, but you are required to choose from the list of last names available in Second Life.

I am Hedy Voom.

I wanted Veda Voom, but it was taken. So was VaVa.

Once you’re registered on-line, you download the SL software to your computer. You sign on, and before you can say Voila Voom (also taken), you are born into your second life.

Confession: I did not take well to this second life.

Within minutes I was completely bald and wearing a chainmail shirt I got for free from a street vendor.
You begin your new life on Orientation Island.

There, you can visit four portals that provide the basics for surviving your second life: Appearance, Communicate, Move, and Search.

I arrive standing in front of the Communicate portal, but make a beeline for Appearance.

The fact that I would choose Appearance over Communicate disturbs me more than just a little bit as, in my real life, I am extremely lame when it comes to my appearance and more than a little interested in communicating.

While standing in the Appearance portal trying to get my hair back, a dude named Alex66 walks up and hands me a dollar.

One can only assume that Alex66 thought I was a) a homeless person or b) a stripper.

Who else do you give a $1, really?

Also, I got trapped under a ceiling while learning to fly in the Move portal.

But I took a long ride on a Segway, too. I am more than a little melancholy at the fact that Hedy Voom has ridden one of these contraptions. I have not.
Of course, the concept behind Second Life is that you get to look and act differently than you do in your first life.

You can adjust everything about the way you look: Hair, eyes, chin, mouth, ears, height, boobs, ass – everything.

Two complete mysteries: The “more bags” option for eyes and the “more saddlebags” option for asses.

Hedy Voom is a tall, bi-racial woman with freckles and light gray eyes. Think of me as a less brainful Condi Rice with Halle Berry tits.

As for the acting differently, well, I'm not really into that so much. There are plenty of "adult" activities in Second Life but it all seems rather forced and lame.

In SL, I mostly wander around by myself exploring new places.

Kinda like my first life but with flying and much better clothes.
More on last names: I could’ve been Hedy Writer.

But it seemed redundant.
Update: Hedy Voom is currently trapped on a small, dark island in the middle of nowhere because of an ill-fated quest for “Free Ocean Front Property” in the Search portal.

At least I’m not bald.
I am listening to: Jem - Amazing Life
I am reading:
And I am: Appreciating my first life

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Angry again

And this quote pretty much sums it up:

"Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist."

If you are blessed with children, please hug them today.

Tell them they are precious and that you love them no matter what. Tell them they are good and wanted and loved. Be selfless with them.

Because some kids don't ever get that. In fact, some kids get quite the opposite.

And there's nothing more sad than that.
I am listening to: Office sounds
I am reading: Work e-mail
And I am: Sad

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

More adventures with airport security

There are two types of rule-breakers.

There are the folks who break a rule, consider themselves lucky if they don’t get caught, and never do it again.

And then there are us habitual offenders who, like velociraptors hurling ourselves violently at an electronic fence, constantly test the system for weaknesses.
This time I’ve got the standard-issue baggie with three 3 oz. bottles of blah blah. There’s a fourth bottle that, at 4 oz. is slightly over the limit, but has somehow made it through at least four of these silly airport screenings unscathed.

I approach the security checkpoint at Orlando International Airport with a smile on my face and a 12 oz. bottle of Extremely Dangerous & Illegal contact lens solution ($10!) stashed beneath a thick-soled sandal in the bottom of the wheelie bag.

Exciting, eh?
I know.

The Jurassic analogy was probably a bit much given the fact that I’m an aging and somewhat arthritic office worker whose biggest thrill is watching Boston Legal Tuesday nights.

I’m like Walter Mitty with tits and a less irritating spouse.
Since that last airport security adventure I’ve developed a system.

First bin: Shoes + jacket + baggie with liquids. Next: Black wheelie bag. Second bin: Mac. Last: The backpack.

Here’s my logic: If the security folks see the baggie first, they’ll assume I’ve attempted to comply with their inane rules and check the wheelie less carefully.

Ah, the mind of a career criminal.

Fascinating, eh?
Why the hell do you have a 12 oz. bottle of anything, Hedy?

It was yet another mad dash to the airport on Saturday and I had to leave my over-the-limit liquids in the car with Jim, who was kind enough to drop me off at Midway.

Arriving in Orlando with no hairspray and nothing for soaking the contacts while I sleep, I was back in business after a quick trip to Albertson’s.
A short, roundish security lady reaches into the first gray bin and grabs the baggie.

“Nice form,” she says with a stern smile. “But this bottle is too big. It’s four ounces, see? Over the limit. You’ve gotta try harder next time.”

There’s a brief moment of anxiety while I assume she’s about to confiscate the offending Mary Kay Moisturizer.

But she tosses it back in the bin with a wink and lets it slide on through.

Uh-oh, I think.

If she’s such a stickler on the 3-1-1, she’s gonna be uber-pissed when she finds that contact stuff.

I hold my breath walking through the metal detector, always waiting for it to beep for no good reason.

But once again, the airport gods smile as the illegal wheelie sails through the x-ray like a small miracle and I wander off to find a smoothie.
"Was it the Aosept stuff we use?" Jim asks on the way home from the airport last night. "There's irony there, because it's got hydrogen peroxide in it -- the stuff those guys were gonna use to make a bomb on the airplane in London."

If the fierce velociraptor felt any remorse about her most recent attack, it is eliminated by this revelation.

Now, no one will be safe. She growls a little in satisfaction.

"What'd you say?" asks Jim. "Are you tired?"
What about the hairspray, Hedy? Where o where did you hide that?

Nothing sexy or mysterious there, sadly. It was left behind in the hotel room.

I’m working my way up to smuggling two 12 oz. bottles of blah blah.

In a year, I figure I’ll be zipping through security with a gallon of gas stashed beneath my shoes.
I am listening to: Gromit breathing
I am reading: Leads from the Hyperion conference
And I am: A vicious dinosaur with pointy teeth and nice tits

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Secret of Guy Code

“I’m gonna tell you something but you can’t tell ANYONE, okay?” a friend says over lunch last week.

I set my fork down. I lean in.

That zippy-skippy part of my brain wakes up and says “Woo-HOO, this is gonna be GREAT!”

There’s nothing like a fat, juicy secret to make your day.

We all have ‘em.

And when someone shares one with you, it’s exhilarating.
I hate to generalize, but men are way better at keeping secrets than women.

Men thrive on their secrets. They need them. And they bond over them.

It’s Guy Code.

Guy Code is that unwritten yet sacred policy between men that there are certain things you NEVER share with the women in your life.

Wife, girlfriend, best friend – doesn’t matter. Some shit you just don’t share with chicks.
The One Chick Rule is a little-known corollary to Guy Code.

If you’re with a group of guys and there’s just one chick, feel free to act like she’s not there.

Two male co-workers introduced me to the One Chick Rule over lunch at Chipotle a few years ago.

I was sitting next to one of them on a molded, pseudo wood bench seat when about halfway through the meal, I felt the unmistakable vibration of a long, burrito-induced fart.

The perpetrator looked at me, shrugged, and said, “One chick rule.”
“You’re about as close as any woman’s ever got to Guy Code,” said Jim’s friend Rodney one night over drinks. “Probably 90%. But you can never get all of it.”

“Because it would break the code?” I ask.

“Well, that, but it would also make you really hate men,” he replied.

The three of us were at the Roundhouse in Aurora one Friday talking about men, women, and whatnot.

They agreed that they both let me in on stuff because they know I won’t go all freaky-irrational-jealous on them. They know I won’t use the information they share against them later on.

But they also know just how far they can go.

About two hours into their war stories, I’d had enough.

“Okay, I’m starting to hate you two,” I sighed. “I’m out.”
I love Guy Code.

For all our emotional sharing and blabbing with each other, us chicks have nothing that remotely compares to Guy Code.

And I think I know why. With secrets, it’s a power thing. Secrets hold great power.

Guy Code exists because chicks have what guys want and they are mostly powerless in that regard.

Guy Code gives them back some of that power.
Somewhere along the way I learned the value of honoring and keeping secrets.

Now when someone says don’t tell, I’m like a vault.

Even the Guy Code stuff.
I am listening to: Dirty Little Secret – All-American Rejects
I am reading: My guy Neil
And I am: Keeping 'em

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Longing for the days of Anna & Imus

Confession time. And this is a Big Ugly One.

When news broke of the Virginia Tech murders, a small part of me said: "Finally! Real news! We can stop hearing about Anna Nicole Smith and Don Imus."

I told you it was ugly. If you like me a little less now I totally understand. I liked me a little less thinking it.

Today the networks have traded one form of lunacy for another by broadcasting the rantings of this madman over and over and over.

I miss Anna. I miss Imus. Truly.
Here's a question: Where are this boy's parents?

I searched high and low on the Internet last night and only found one largely irrelevant article about his sister, who works for some government agency re-building Iraq. Or something.

Even this morning, there is nothing about his parents.

And in this aftermath of ugly rhetoric on who's to blame this time -- gun freaks on both sides sure didn't waste any time making hay outta this one -- the most important question is: Where were these parents when their sad, manic son was skittering down the path to massacre?
I am listening to: Like a Star - Corinne Bailey Rae
I am reading: Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace -- One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson
And I am: Turning everything off

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Bunnies, flowers, sunshine & blow jobs

Spike: We gettin' shut out today?

Heather: It's lookin' that way. I'm sorry. A cousin in from outta town; not much train time this week.

Spike: Gotcha....the title out there looks so ANGRY.

Heather: Okay, I will fix it.
I am listening to: Freek-a-Leek - Petey Pablo
I am reading: Done with Crichton, The God Delusion is next
And I am: Trying for less angry

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

We're white and we're angry!

Yesterday’s blog provoked a rather visceral reaction in some.

Why all the hate, my friends? Why are white folks so incensed by race issues?

It's a little odd, given the fact that I don’t know one white person that has suffered or is suffering because of minorities. I don’t know a single white person whose life is worse because of something an African American did or didn’t do.

In fact, the white people I know who are struggling with bills and whatnot, struggle because of their own decisions, not because somebody stole an opportunity or money or property from them.

Plus, I would argue our lives are easier because of the scads of minorities ready and willing to work the shit-jobs most teenagers wouldn’t deign to do.

So why all the anger, people? What is this really about?
“But Hedy! What about these women on welfare who keep having babies to get more money?”

Did we sleep through the 90’s folks?

Bill Clinton’s welfare reform law passed in 1996 changed all of that. According to a report by the Urban Institute, a non-partisan economic and social policy organization, the number of families receiving cash benefits has decreased from 4.6 million in 1996 to 2.1 million families in 2002.

So if you’re angry about paying taxes to support minorities on welfare, you’re actually paying less than you did 10 years ago.

And if you wanna be pissed off about taxes, what about that bridge to nowhere they’re building in Alaska with your tax dollars? It’s a bunch of white old men behind that particular fiasco.

Listen, just like "Tired of It" from yesterday, I have a seriously low tolerance for assholes and idiots.

But when you blame an entire race of people for the problems you don't have, who's the asshole?
I am listening to: 50 Cent - Hate It or Love It
I am reading: Next by Michael Crichton
And I am: Blah again

Monday, April 16, 2007

Imus vs. the rest of us

Look at him.

Does this man have any business commenting on hair-dos, nappy or otherwise?

“But Hedy! What about rap music? Black people use the n-word all the time! It’s a double standard! It’s NOT FAIR!”

Um. Right.

Are you actually complaining because you can’t use the n-word?


All right then, are you complaining about double standards held by people that have lived with double standards here for hundreds of years? People who lived with separate but equal up until the 60’s? People who still live with different standards today, like a friend of mine who gets pulled over on a regular basis because he’s black and drives a Lexus?

Here’s the deal: If you’re white and you’ve never, ever laughed at a racist joke your whole life and you’ve never once uttered the n-word when you’re alone with your white friends, THEN you can gripe about double standards.

No? Not so much?

Then please, SHUT the FUCK UP about DOUBLE STANDARDS.
“But Hedy! You said if it’s not true, you shouldn’t be offended!”


And I thought C. Vivian Stringer, the coach of the Rutgers women’s basketball team, was being just a little bit dramatic when she said: “Let the healing begin.”

What Imus said was offensive.

But if I’m on that team, I’m not hurt. I’m not offended. Oh, hell no.

I’m pissed off that the media are so focused on some washed up, dried up, angry old racist fuck and not on the fabulous season we had.
Question: Why isn’t Imus heading to rehab like Mel Gibson and all the other celebrities who’ve suffered from verbal diarrhea over the past year?

Because he’s a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who used to get drunk/high while on the radio.

But he’s better now. Yep. All better.
I am listening to: Hedy’s Shake Ya Ass mix
I am reading: Next by Michael Crichton (it’s better now – not a great story, but makes you think about DNA and stuff.)
And I am: Pretty goddamn good

Friday, April 13, 2007

Moo-cows, hoot owls

We live in what used to be the country.

Since 1995, our neck of the woods – and it was in fact mostly woods and farm fields back then – is being swallowed up by the sprawl of suburbia.

There are two Targets now, less than two miles away. The friendly four-way stops are gone, replaced by civilized stoplights. The McDonald’s opened just six months ago, depressing and comforty all at once.

But all of this doesn’t bother me so much because there are still moo-cows at the farm across the street; you can hear them mooing on warm summer mornings. On really good days, blue herons wade through the pond behind our house. On really bad nights, coyotes scream from the few remaining cornfields nearby.

And there are hoot owls.
Why are they called moo-cows and hoot owls?

There are no oink-pigs or bark-dogs.

And what if all of us put what we do in front of who we are?

What would you be?
This morning I woke up dark-early to that familiar h-h-HOO hoo HOOooo.

We’ve known since November that an owl is nesting nearby.

When he’s on the chimney it’s so loud it sounds like he’s sitting next to me on the couch. Stand in the back yard and you can hear him hoo after 10 almost every night.

But this morning I heard something new with the hoo-ing.

A small, soft hoo. Echoing the huge, loud hoo.

Baby hoots. Owlets on the roof.

I am listening to: Streetcorner Symphony – Rob Thomas
I am reading: My guy Neil
And I am: A Bitch-Hed (lately)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Rude dude

I’m walking up to the bright yellow parking meter machines at the train lot in Aurora this morning, yapping with Mom again.

In the back of my head, it’s 284. 284. 284. Must remember 284.

That’s the space I’m in today.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see a guy rapidly approaching – hurrying up to beat me to the one machine that’s open on the right.

Of course this is terribly rude.

But I’m too late for the 7:22 and way early for the 7:42 train, so it’s no biggie.
Here’s how it works: You park in a numbered space. You punch your number in the machine. Then you plug in your buck-fifty or your parking cash card. You wait for the printed ticket to push its way out, and voila, done.

The whole transaction should take less than 30 seconds.
“Hedy, maybe he saw you yapping on the phone and thought you would be slow.”

That’s what I figured. But still.
The rude dude gets to the machine, plops down his backpack and his coffee on top of the trashcan between the two machines and starts RUMMAGING THROUGH HIS BAG FOR CHANGE.

He’s not even READY.

He LEAPED ahead of me – me with my automated park card in hand – so that he could spend an HOUR digging around for money.

Now I’m irritated.

All that digging around should be done ahead of time. You prep before you approach.

It’s an unwritten rule.
The machine on the left opens up. I’m in, I’m out. Zip-zip. Still yapping.

30 seconds.

While the rude dude is still rummaging.
I am listening to: Everything is Alright – Motion City Soundtrack
I am reading: Next by Michael Crichton (bleh)
And I am: Zippy

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Again with the Christian picking

“And while we’re talking about Easter, I didn’t like your blog much,” Mom tells me yesterday morning during the looonnnng drive into the city.

Why I’m not on the train is an even longer story, and I’ve bored all y’all enough lately.

“You’re picking on Christians again and I don’t like it,” she whined.

Yes, she whined. It’s true. I love her, but it was whining.

“Oh Jesus Christ! Did you read it? Did you really read it?” I yell in frustration. “Better yet, read my blog from Friday. It’s not about YOU. I wasn’t picking on Christians. I was pointing out that, if you really look at it, our country’s history isn’t all that Christian.”
I pick on Christians. I pick on Jews. I pick on Muslims.

Religious hypocrisy is my all-time favorite topic – regardless of your flavor.
“So what do you believe, really?” she asked later in the conversation. “I still don’t know what you believe.”

I believe everyone and everything is connected.

To me, that connection is sacred. It is a miracle that I experience every single day of my life.

It’s what most people refer to as God. But I’m more comfortable calling it the Universe because to me, this connection doesn’t have gender.

It’s not Out There. It’s In Here.

Star Wars fans call it The Force.

Because we’re all connected, we have an obligation to treat each other well. We have an obligation to do the right thing. Always.

But sometimes we don’t. The Universe is self-regulating in that regard and if we treat others badly – because we’re all connected – eventually bad things happen to us.

“But I’m not connected to that guy who killed his wife and chopped her up,” said Mom.

“Yes. Yes you are,” I say. “That’s the biggest challenge, and one that Jesus understood better than anyone: We’re all connected, no exceptions. It’s easy to feel connected to your family and your friends, but the challenge is to understand and feel that connection with people like that guy who killed his wife. People you don’t like. The people who are really different from you. That’s the hardest thing to do. To me, that’s the real miracle of someone like Jesus.”
The guys who founded this country got it – they understood that concept. All men are created equal, blah blah.

If we had just followed through, followed what they said, THEN we’d be a Christian nation.
I am listening to: People talking in the office kitchen
I am reading: An article about Einstein and faith in Time Magazine
And I am: Really sick of snow

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Christian nation, my ass

Tell me, please. When was the United States a Christian nation?

When we stole this land from Native Americans -- allowing those that we didn't massacre to live in captivity on reservations?

When we bought and sold slaves, and then freed them only to keep things separate but equal for another hundred years?

When we burned 'witches' at Salem?

When we ignored genocide in Germany? In China? In Afghanistan? In Bosnia? In Rwanda?

And today, in Darfur, because there's no oil, no money to be made by getting involved?

Our history was never about worshiping the Almighty.

It's about worshiping the almighty dollar.

Christian nation? My ass.
I am listening to: The Ten Commandments
I am reading: Blogs Against Theocracy
And I am: Disgusted

Friday, April 06, 2007

It's not you. Really.

“What are you doing tonight? I really need to talk to you.”

This arrived via e-mail first thing Wednesday morning.

Of course I replied “Nothing, c’mon over” because that’s the only thing to say when a friend says something like that.

But here’s another thing I tend to do in that situation: I make it about me.

Do you ever do this?

For part of the day, in the back of mind, I was thinking:

“Hmm. I wonder if I did something to offend her. I wonder if I was obnoxious the last time we saw each other and she’s finally had it with me and wants to tell me in person how I hurt her feelings and made her mad and blah de blah ME blah ME ME ME!”

I made it about me.

It wasn’t, and the better part of me knew that.

But only because I’m trying to get better about not looking at the world through me-colored glasses all the time.
Us chicks are especially good at making it all about us.

Example: This Saturday, Jim will be very quiet and tired from spending a week on the other side of the world.

Here will be me, Saturday night: “What’s wrong? Are you mad at me? Why aren’t you talking to me?”

Again with the me, me, me.

The fact is, people are quiet or sad or upset or mean or rude for a whole lotta reasons.

And 99.9% of the time, it’s not about you. Really.
"How was dinner last night?" I ask Mom this morning.

“Eh, just okay. I had to sit next to _________,” she says. “She intimidates me.”

“Oh yeah, what did she do?” I ask.

“She doesn’t do anything,” she replied. “It’s me, it’s my issue. I feel intimidated by her.”

I laugh out loud at this point and tell her about today’s blog topic.
Okay, say it with me girls: “But what about that OTHER .01% of the time, hmm?”

The rest of the time, people have no idea they’ve offended you because again, it’s NOT ABOUT YOU.

“I think I’m gonna be fired,” I told my friend Scott a few months ago. “They hate me.”

“Hed, have you ever read ‘The Four Agreements’?” he asked.

“I did a long time ago, but obviously it didn’t take,” I reply.

“Always remember, it’s not personal,” he said. “It’s one of the agreements. It’s not about you. Really. Most of the stuff that people do and say has everything to do with them, and absolutely nothing to do with you.”
You wanna know the silliest part of all this?

The people who it’s usually about – the people who actually piss you off – have absolutely no clue that it’s EVER about them.

Like the lady sitting next to me on the train right now, yapping AT THE TOP OF HER LUNGS.

I’d really like to stab her in the head with a pen. She has no idea that her behavior is deeply offensive to me.

Maybe she grew up in a really big family where constant, loud, annoying yapping was the norm.
The thing is, all of us do it. We think we’re the center of the Universe.

When in fact, we’re just the center of our Universe.
I am listening to: KT Tunstall – The Other Side of the World
I am reading: Steinberg
And I am: Finding some new sorts

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Out of sorts

Okay. Confession time.

I’ve been out of sorts lately.

Fresh out of sorts, in fact.

And it’s not as if you can just go to Target and pick up a pack of new sorts when you’re out of them.

Sorts must replenish themselves magically like those little shampoo bottles in your hotel room.
The thing is, it's extremely irritating to feel this way because a) There's no good reason for it, and b) I have an extremely low tolerance for people who mope around, out of sorts, for no good reason.

There are Major Diseases. There is Divorce. There is Loneliness.

Is it okay to make ourselves feel better by thinking of those less fortunate?

Is it okay to be down for no good reason?

What brings you back up when you're fresh out?
Prediction: I will get two types of e-mails from friends/family.

1) HEDY! Don't be down, we love you and flowers and sunshine and God and everything, BE HAPPY!
2) HEDY! PULL your HEAD outta your ASS and GET OVER IT!

And then there are the blessed few who will respond exactly the way I would respond to someone else who's down for No Good Reason: Ignore it; she'll pull out of this eventually.
I am listening to: Led Zeppelin - Tangerine
I am reading: New copy for corporate brochure
And I am: Fresh out

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Hide & seek

Here's how it works: I throw the Frisbee upstairs. Gromit runs up to get it. I hide.

We've been playing all morning.

It's a total crack up listening to him scramble around the house desperate to find me.

He does a somewhat cursory check of the usual spots first: The bathroom, the laundry room, the family room. Then he circles back around -- actually taking the time to look behind doors and furniture.

If Gromit still can't find me, he starts this squealing, barking noise that is essentially the dog equivalent of bitching someone out.

He always finds me though. Then he runs like hell to make sure I can't get the Frisbee again.
Hide and seek was one of my favorite games growing up.

Here was my trick to avoid being It: I'd hide somewhere very obvious and just a short distance from the goal. When the It person finished counting, they'd invariably take off running, assuming all of us were hiding somewhere Far Away.

I'd watch them zoom by, then run like hell to the goal. It's literally the last place they look.
There was something thrilling about hiding from someone desperate to find you.

It was a sneaky, thinky game and maybe that's why I liked it so much.

Confession: For some reason, playing hide and seek always made me want to pee. I have no idea why, but it was extremely irritating.

I think Da said once that it's that nervous-are-they-gonna-find-me feeling that makes you want to go to the bathroom.

I have no idea if that's true.

But maybe that explains why Gromit always checks the bathrooms first when I'm hiding.
I am listening to: The wind
I am reading: Neil Steinberg
And I am: Still in my PJ's

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Another customer service surprise

“Look at this,” says my manager, walking up to my desk yesterday afternoon.

He hands me a battered and filthy box containing a set of Bose Quiet Comfort 3 headphones I’d ordered last week.

“I can’t give it to her looking like this,” he says.

I agreed. It looked like the UPS man had wiped his ass with the box and then danced on it for good measure.

(What can brown do for you? Yikes.)

Over the past year we’ve ordered a dozen or so of these headphones, which have turned out to be popular giveaways with clients and prospects.

Usually they arrive safely and anonymously inside a plain cardboard box. But this time, the headphones were shipped in the original box – a box that now appeared to be shit-stained and stomped on -- and wholly unsuitable for giving to anyone.

“I’ll call them right away,” I say, thinking ‘right away’ will probably mean an hour from now when I finally finish that little 2-hour project I’ve been working on all week.
I’m a regular at the Bose web site but have never needed to call them until now.

Surprise #1: The 800 number for customer service was easy to find on their web site.

This is highly unusual. Have you noticed this?

Most companies make it extremely difficult to find a customer service number on their web sites. American Airlines is notorious – burying it a whopping four clicks deep. They’d rather you send an e-mail.

"DO NOT REPLY TO THIS E-MAIL. Thank you for contacting us about [insert generic name they've applied to your unique problem here]. You will receive a response within 24 hours regarding this issue."

The response you receive doesn't address your problem. It addresses what they've decided is your problem -- and in fact, it is YOUR problem after all, so good luck with that.

Oh, and by the way, DO NOT REPLY TO THIS E-MAIL.
Surprise #2: A live person with a very friendly voice answers the phone on the second ring. I explain the situation.

“The box never should’ve shipped like that,” says the sympathetic and soothing Bose rep on the other end. “UPS will be there today to pick it up, no charge. And we’ll ship you a new one today.”


So when have you been surprised by good customer service? And is it a surprise because it happens so rarely? Or because we’ve lowered our expectations?
I am listening to: INXS – The One Thing
I am reading: Pre-show mailer
And I am: Quiet and comforty

Monday, April 02, 2007

How would Jesus drive?

It was Sunday morning and I was doing 75 in the far left lane through the construction at Naperville Road on I-88.

I thought this was pretty zippy considering the speed limit is 45. But with no workers around, I figured it was a good risk.

All of a sudden, a chick in a minivan zooms up outta nowhere and sits on my bumper.

“Golly gee,” I think, “This nice woman is in an awfully big hurry. I best get out of her way as she’s obviously going somewhere Very Important.”

Who the hell am I kidding?

Here’s what I really thought: “Goddamn crazy bitch. She thinks where she’s going is So Much More Important than where everyone else is going.”

It’s Sunday so in spite of the swearing I’m feeling somewhat generous of spirit and change lanes to let her pass.

She speeds by and that’s when I see it: A Christian fish below the rear window, hanging on for dear life.
I’m on my way to the train station this morning, already yapping with Mom as I leave the house.

By some small miracle, there’s no traffic so I pull out of my subdivision behind a school bus. The school bus takes the right lane and I move into the far left lane to pass.

There’s a car about a half-mile behind coming up fast so I accelerate to get around the bus and outta the way.

Too late. Before I can switch to the right lane, the guy zips by, cutting off the bus to take the right lane.

Yep, you guessed it. Another Christian fish.

What’s with these people?

And during Lent, for Christ's sake.
If you’re going to advertise the fact that you’re a Christian aren’t you somewhat obligated to, I don’t know, act like one?

Follow the rules of the road. Be considerate of others. Use that God-given turn signal maybe.

Or not.

Maybe as Christians, these folks are fearless. They know they’re saved. They just know they’re heading to heaven.

They drive like idiots because they’re not afraid to die.

They think they’re getting to heaven just a little bit ahead of the rest of us.
I am listening to: 50 Cent – Hate It or Love it
I am reading: Magazines
And I am: Calm