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Archive for March, 2007


The dogwoods are starting to bloom. Which means we’re due for a cold snap.

I sort of don’t mind it, really, because at this point “cold” is a relative concept. Upper 70’s and lower 80’s for the past week has gotten me rather spoiled, though. 60-ish weather is going to be a bit of a shock.

But this puts me ever closer to that magical point where it gets warm and stays warm. Just one more cold snap before summer.

Both sides of my street are lined with pink and white dogwoods. Most of my neighbors have azaleas in full bloom. My street is the prettiest street in town this time of year.

Yay spring!

— Mox

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Things I should have given up for Lent:

1. Talking out loud to myself

2. Cursing

3. Cursing out loud to myself

4. Cursing at inanimate objhects

5. Cursing at other people under my breath

6. Holding imaginary conversations with someone I’d like to curse at

7. Doing this out loud

8. Cursing myself

— Mox

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It seems I spend a good deal of my time peeved about something.

Yesterday I had to call my mortgage company to try and ascertain why they had assessed me a late fee on my last payment, when I had mailed it out on the 12th, which is in advance of the 16th deadline. Turns out they didn’t receive it until the 22nd, so voila, late. That’ll be $38.18, please.

A cursory check of the postal service website tells me that the check should have been received in their offices (in Atlanta) within two days’ time. So either the post office here screwed up (likely, because the PO here is notoriously slow) or whoever received it at the mortgage company took their good sweet time in posting my payment.

Not a lot I can do about either scenario.

And oddly enough, that’s not what pisses me off. I don’t generally get all worked up about things that are out of my control. No, what’s got me in a lather is the customer “service” I received.

My husband is fond of reminding me that customer service is the easiest thing to give and yet the hardest thing to get. As a man who works in the convenience store industry, he knows what he’s talking about. I don’t know why that is but it’s just not human nature, I guess, to be pleasant and helpful. I find it hard sometimes, myself.

First off, I understand that there’s not a whole lot that people can do about the sound of their voices. But people who hire for telephone customer service positions would be well-served to actually listen to what people’s voices sound like before setting them up with a workstation and a headset.

Secondly, I understand that customer service people, particularly those who talk to people who are sending the company money, are by necessity a bit jaded. They’ve heard every excuse in the book. They deal with a lot of people who are actually TRYING to pull the wool over someone’s eyes. It’s hard not to answer that call without presupposing you’re dealing with a liar.

Here’s the thing: I am not a liar. The reason I am not a liar is that I am not good at it. If I were a better liar I would lie like a rug and not give it a second thought. But I cannot lie with any sort of conviction and therefore you won’t catch me doing it. It’s probably why I’m not a better writer: I can’t make up shit to save my soul.

So I called my mortgage company to see if I could get this straightened out, and silly me, I thought I would be able to work this out. After all, I’ve never been late on a payment before, not once in all the eleven years I’ve had a mortgage. I’ve probably been spoiled by the great customer service I’ve received at other companies — even credit card companies — and it seemed reasonable to me that forgiveness should be relatively simple to get on this.

But no.

You know what I got? I got a guy with both a nasal voice and a snotty attitude. When I first heard his nose talking I cringed a little bit but, you know, thank god at least English was his first language. (Sidebar: don’t get me started on customer service reps who speak a heavily accented English. Just don’t.) I explained the situation to him and you know what? I got exactly bupkiss. Obviously, this guy has become accustomed to dealing with deadbeats and wasn’t going to brook any excuses. He launched into a spiel about the many ways I could avoid this in the future starting with, hey, mail it on the first like you’re supposed to, you bum (implication mine), or set it up to be automatically deducted from my account on a certain day (um, no). Several times I opened my mouth to interrupt but it was obvious he was working from a script of sorts. Nothing I said changed his tone or position.

I took it as a personal affront to be spoken to that way. Do not lump me in with that group of people with sob stories about how they can’t pay their mortgage.

I suppose I could have escalated the issue and asked to speak to a supervisor, but at a certain point you have to ask yourself: is this worth $38 to me?

Customer service. Hah.

Now would seem to be a good time to shop around for a new mortgage. See what I can come up with. Rates are (according to the media) at historic lows.

Is $38 and a snotty attitude worth a couple hundred thou? I think not.

–Mox

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That’s odd.

I love to watch people. Now that we’ve had a spate of warm days, people have come out of hibernation, and that means I’ve had a quite a lot to watch here lately.

Here’s something that makes no sense to me: people who smoke a cigarette while riding a bicycle.

Is it just me, or is there something a little off about that?

I understand that not everyone has a car, or wants a car, or has access to public transportation, so they have to get around by whatever means possible. But you’d think that if you were going to ride a bicycle, you’d want to do it without a cigarette hanging out of your mouth.

Here’s the thing: riding a bicycle takes two legs and two arms. And in the case of an incline, it also takes some lung and muscle power. Smoking a cigarette takes at least one hand/arm and some lung capacity. Why would anyone want to complicate something as simple as riding a bike with the added bother of having to keep up with a smoke?

I won’t even get into the health stuff here. All I’ll say about that is this: exercise = healthy; smoking = not so much.

People are funny.

Mox

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Man.

80° over the weekend. Glorious.

My kid and the neighbor’s kid were out running around in their swimsuits yesterday. This is March?

I dragged the porch furniture up out of the basement yesterday. The cat was a bit miffed that I took her favorite sleeping spot away, but I’m glad to have the extra space restored in the basement. Now if I can just get to St. Vincent de Paul with the stuff I’m giving away, I’ll have even more room down there.

I gave up on wearing turtlenecks several weeks ago but it still seems to be a big leap to shorts and sandals. And yet, here I am. Please note that you do not hear me complaining.

One of the things I love about spring is its’ ephemeral nature. The quick succession from bud to bloom to leaf happens almost in the blink of an eye.

One of the surest signs of spring is the sound of birds singing in the predawn hours. That’s one sound I miss when fall comes. But in the spring, the birds are singing to catch a mate and the air is saturated with the sound. I have a pair of doves checking out the vine-covered pergola over my deck as a possible location for their nest. If you’ve never awakened to the sound of a dove’s soft cooing outside your window, I suggest you search out the experience.

To delight in the act of creation, whether through your own hands or through the observation of other creatures, is one of the traits that ties us to God, I think.

Mox

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Photo Friday: Dandy

The old wives’ tale (or old farmers, whichever) says that spring has officially arrived once the dandelions bloom. Dandelion blooms are said to signal no more snow.

Well, guess what’s blooming in my yard?

Huzzah!

— Mox

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Every so often, things will work out just right, where a beautiful, sunny, warm day exactly coincides with my day off.

Yesterday was such a day.

The First Day of Spring came in gently yesterday, with sunshine and 75° weather (in March! can you believe it?) and everyone out and about and in a great mood. There was a sense of firmly shutting the door to winter and turning the lock. Windows down, stereos blaring, flipflops out of the closet, and all of us grooving along in sync with the weather. I love it.

I am now sufficiently emboldened to try and find something to wear for Easter.

I think that, at least for me, shopping is about 95% attitude. If I’m feeling frumpy or overtired, nothing I see is going to make me happy. But set me out for the mall on a fine spring day and see what I come back with.

Yesterday I decided to save myself a huge wad of cash. I bought a $30 (on sale!) slipcover and threw it over my 12-year-old couch and voila — a new couch. My husband was very pleased. Next will be a slipcover for the wing chair that the cats seem to want to climb all the time. All told I’ll probably spend a tenth of what I would have on new furniture. I’m feeling quite smart.

If I could slipcover my husband then my happiness would be complete. Same sturdy frame with a new exterior, something a little softer that wouldn’t be such a pain in my ass. If it were only that easy.

Mox

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