Friday, August 29, 2008

Customer Service

There isn't a single person that has worked a customer service job that has not, at least once; come home, kicked off their shoes at the door, flopped heavily into the couch and stated in a deadpan monotone, "I hate people'.

I have made this statement myself at least once per place of employment and I have talked to several other people in the field of customer service, or 'cs' as we call it, and in this respect, we are all the same. We deeply feel that way at the time it's said, but it is a very short generalization for the depth of the meaning behind it. In truth, someone good at customer service does not hate people at all. What they hate is the quality of customer that they managed to suffer through that particular day.

I have worked in, for or at; a salvage yard, a tow company, a beauty supply house, several gas station mini-marts, an automotive repair shop, a donut shop, a credit union, and last, but most certainly not least, the state of California in the Department of Motor Vehicles. I have been on the front lines between my employers and the general public in each and every one of them. And there is one unfailing principle that applies to all of 'cs': It comes in waves.

What I mean by that is this... If you have a terrific customer; one that smiles when they talk to you, and conducts their particular transaction in whichever way is easiest for the cashier. A customer that will put all of their unwanted items back where they got them from and do it properly. Someone who, if they have a complaint, is polite about it and you are able to fix it for them, and they will thank you. This is a customer that makes you as the 'cs' person smile, and the universe will send you a 'wave' of more customers who may not be that terrific, but they will be ones that you will not mind serving in the slightest.

If, however, you have a terrible customer; one that bitches at you in a loud, angry manner about something that you have absolutely no control over, makes a mess, is rude to the other customers. This person will pay in unrolled pennies, so you have to suspend the transaction to help others while they count it out, and they won't be in any way polite about taking up the entire counter space to do so. Then, they will want to take things off their tab because they don't have enough pennies. Just when you finally think this nightmare customer is finished, they will proceed to walk back into the heart of the store, break something, deny doing it, and then return to your counter again to pay for a one dollar lotto ticket with a $20 bill. I won't even mention that when you close out your shift, you get to explain to your manager why you have a suspended transaction on your shift report (oh wait, I just did). If you get one like that, then the law of 'cs' says that you will get more. Being that they are the terrible customers, the universe will also send more of them to you after you've stepped outside and lit your last cigarette with matches, in unexpected wind, because your lighter went extinct when you tried to use it... oh yes, and the universe will also stagger these customers out so the next one it sends you will come in right after you've cleaned up from the last one, and your entire day goes this way. This is how 'cs' people come to mutter that they hate people.

So the next time you deal with a 'cs' worker, please be as kind and terrific a customer as you are capable of being, because you may be kicking of their day... and for them, it always comes in waves.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


I don't always know when I'm getting close to blowing a gasket. Surprisingly, it escapes me that I've become antsy and very, very irritable. My hair bugs me when it blows in my face and the house feels way too small. My heat rises because a lone cup hasn't made it to the sink before I've finished the dishes, and my nerves are frayed to nubs because my son keeps opening and slamming the kitchen cabinets (he's a toddler and likes the way they sound). I will find saliva covered toys in my cabinets, and I will trip over hubby's shoes even though I tried to step over them. Usually, all of this happens in such a short span of time that my explosion looks instantaneous to others, and sometimes even to myself.

I become unhinged. Not dangerously, as my physical outburst days are long behind me, but loudly; OK, very loudly. And I am not in any way kind when I loose it. I discard tact and lay out every single solitary gripe I have in me; from the bugs in Texas to how I am the only one that scrubs the toilet even though I'm not the only one that uses it. I do it in a brutally honest, as-I-see-it way. I'm not always completely accurate, but I am completely emotional, venting with every ounce of my personal energy. My restraints become completely undone, and I have to verbally puke out all of the angry-ugly until I've fully finished my tirade so that I may return to my usually calm and stable self. If I snap in the morning, I can actually go on and accomplish a lot with my day because afterwards I feel cleansed, cleared and as empty as the first keg tapped at Oktoberfest.

I do go along for very long stretches of time without snapping, but when I blow, I put nuclear weapons to shame. I have never understood why this my process, but my process it most definitely is. I've analyzed and meditated, and it happens with a lot less frequency than it did in my teens and twenties, but I still do this despite my advancing age and maturity. After all these years, and so much self-analysis, soul-searching and emotional healing work that I've done, I can not seem to squash this particular personality flaw.

For some reason, I don't seem to realize that I was so stuffed full of emotional garbage that a blow-up was inevitable. If I were able to recognize it before my own personal Armageddon occurred, I would have come up with a much more civilized way of dealing with the purge long ago. I would let it out like a steam valve on a well regulated schedule, a little bit at a time instead of going off the chain like a banshee. My words bursting forth in a gravelly scream-yell, aimed at whomever is in earshot with all the sting of small-caliber bullets and tears streaming down my face uncontrollably. To any observer, I'm sure I seem in desperate need of a strait-jacket.

I've decided that these must be the times preachers are referring to when they say, "for better or for worse...". I sometimes wonder if hubby would have married me if he knew that I had this infrequent, but recurring glitch in my software. That my horns would pop out like daggers and I would become a horrible site to behold. It's a good thing that it happens so rarely... and that I've already got the ring.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Unfortunate Memory

I have what I like to call an 'unfortunate memory'. You see, my brain has a mind of it's own, and it's twisted.

I say this because, I'll be home by myself when I invariably realize (without any context whatsoever!) that whatever I'm doing very closely resembles whatever some chickie was doing when the killer jumped out and gutted her 5 ways from Sunday in some slasher flick that I saw 20+ years ago. And I won't just remember it, I'll remember it in full technicolor, wide screen, dts detail. This is why I refuse to watch horror flicks, because my brain is not kind.

I also will take 10 minutes squirming and positioning myself, my blanket, and my pillow until I am completely snuggled in and very comfortable before my brain reminds me that I didn't check to make sure the front door was locked, or that hubby has no iced tea or Gatorade made for his lunch tomorrow, or that the cat is still in the house. This is also the same brain that negated to register that the stereo was on and the car was still running the last time I locked my keys in it. But it won't let me fall asleep because there are too many vehicles driving past the house when I'm trying to knock off for the night.

This is the same brain that cannot manage a single solitary image during meditation visualization exercises, but will allow me to delve so deeply into an unplanned daydream that I forget the pasta is cooking until it comes out like mush.

I can quote movie lines from movies that I haven't even seen with total accuracy, but cannot remember one specific word that was the lynch pin of my thesis, or the name of hubby's cousin that I just met, actually liked, and am trying to carry on a conversation with. I can remember that my father's best man at the wedding to my mother was named John Walsh (no, not the guy from TV) even though I never met him, and my parents have been remarried to other people for over 2o years apiece. I cannot manage to forget a birthday be it for an ex-boyfriend or an ex-roommate, no matter how long it's been since I've seen them or on what terms we parted. I remember living in my first home as a kid quite vividly, and that we had a man deliver fresh vegetables around the neighborhood. His name was Sam and he drove a green panel truck--we left that house when I was 4! However, I can not remember to fill out my son's insurance paperwork until the day the final notice comes in. I can't tell you my bank balance even though I just closed the checkbook, and I may or may not remember to take something out of the freezer for dinner...but I've got 14 computer passwords in my head and I don't need to look up a single one. Oh yes, and every time I'm at a cashier waiting for my card authorization to complete, I hear the 'Jeopardy' theme in my head--every single time, even though I don't step foot in a store without verifying my balance first.

So you see, my brain does as it wishes and has a dark sense of humor. It laughs at the ease with which it leads me around. It will inevitably lead me to do something ridiculously, roll-your-eyes stupid; like later today when I'm cleaning house, I'll start mopping and realize that I forgot to sweep first... but, then again, as twisted as my brain is, I'm happy to have it. It's saved me repeatedly, works fairly well, and it keeps me from loosing my mind. That is, of course, until the next time I try to get on an elevator and flash on the scene from 'Dressed to Kill' or get in a pool and hear the 'Jaws' theme in my head. Did I mention the size and proliferation of spiders in the Texas countryside? Oh yeah, you got it... but don't say it, my brain will laugh like Renfield... cause it's twisted.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Honeymoons and Marriage

I have recently been accused of being married to my computer. And while I understood what my husband meant, I felt he was inaccurate. I am married to him, I am honeymooning with my computer.

When you've been married for any length of time, the all-encompassing zing fades out and you go about your daily lives doing what must be done in the day-to-day. You may talk during the day, but sometime in the evening or later, you both wind up in the same dwelling, eat something, talk a bit about your day's activities, watch some TV, play with the kids, clean everyone and everything up and go to bed. It still takes some work and you schedule aside time to be with each other, but it evolves into a comfortable day-in, day-out routine of sorts. Some of your interests intersect and others do not. If you're secure in yourself and your partner, you allow each other time for certain interests, whether they involve your participation or not. Life goes on. You're married.

My computer and I, however are honeymooning. I wake up every day ready to spend time with it. I find myself seeing it for hours even when I hadn't planned to see it at all. I send my husband to bed with a quick kiss and stay up very, very late cajoling it to do what I want when it's being temperamental. My friends and family get scheduled in around my computer time or they don't get through, unless of course they email me. Things I used to do on a regular basis have taken something of a backseat to it. My home is still clean, but I no longer spend my time making it immaculate, because I have to get back to my computer. When I'm out, I wonder if I have any email, and I look at things to buy for my computer. It even has a pet name, I call it my 'puter. I would say I was having an affair with my 'puter, but hubby knows all about my infatuation.

To be fair, he started this honeymoon of mine when he was off having a few of his own with his pastimes. But when ever our different honeymoons become difficult, we always have each other to talk to. We gripe for this reason or that, venting our frustrations about our private love-lives to each other as we watch a movie or eat dinner. Then we feel better, having decompressed our emotions, and we can get back to our 'loves' with renewed affection and attention. We're able to do this because we know that one day, inevitably, the zing will die and we'll move on to newer, fresher 'loves' to fill our days. Brand new honeymoons will emerge on the horizon to keep us from being monotonous. And we'll still have each other, because hubby and I are not honeymooning; we're married.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


I don't know what it is about floor plans, but I love them. Give me book of nothing but floor plan sketches and I'll be 'unavoidably detained' for hours. Whenever I find myself under extreme stress I sit down with paper and pencil and design my own. I loose myself in the measurements and the creation of something that if it were actually built, would be beautiful but functional at the same time.
I don't remember when I fell in love with floor plans, but I know it was too late in my life to actually spend 8 years in school to make it a full-time career. Then again, if it was, and I was bound by customers, I probably would never find the solace in it that I do with it as just a hobby. So I draw and I dream of the day that I'll be able to build one of my masterpieces. Because I know, as sure as I'm breathing, that one day I will build my own home.
It's not just all new plans either. Whenever I have trouble sleeping, I pick a house that I've been in, whether I lived there or was just visiting for an hour, and I remodel it. I deconstruct it to the studs and rework any parts of the structure that I felt had problems in size or layout or functionality. Sometimes the plan was very simply boring, and I could have made it so much better.
For the most intricate remodels, I envision myself the undiscovered, female Frank Lloyd Wright who, despite a lack of any formal education or training, goes on to design and build the most beautiful, functional and cost efficient to maintain homes that have been seen in generations. I light up the world of architecture and am allowed to sit with my sketches falling like gold from my pad as I drink in obnoxious amounts of 'This Old House' reruns.
Oddly enough, with all of these designs tucked away from my many years of sketching or mentally remodelling these floor plans, I currently reside in a single wide trailer that was refurbished in the early 80's. I couldn't even begin to guess when it was first built, but it is not small, it's minuscule. A 540 square foot wood and metal rectangle box with all the floor plan excitement of watching paint dry. Actually, watching paint dry has infinitely more possibilities for being exciting.
We make do, and I am honestly thankful for four walls a roof, a bathroom and a washer & dryer. I spent time homeless in my mid-twenties, so I really am thankful. But I also hold out hope, with every single sketch, that one day before I am too old to enjoy living in it, I will build a home that I designed myself. It will have plenty of bedrooms, more than one bathroom, and tons of room for my kids to run around. I will make sure my husband has the sound-proof room to do his stereo-junkie thing and I will have an office with a door to write my blog in peace. Oh yes, and with the ability to build my huge home I will of course have enough money to afford maid service to clean it for the rest of my life.
That will also afford me plenty of space and time to draw more floor plans...because true love doesn't end just because it's fulfilled.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


sI’m not sure how many times I've said that I would pay more than I’m worth for my daughter’s energy. As her mother, I am constantly amazed at how much she has, and how much I lack by comparison. With every year I seem to get drained more and more easily while she seems to go faster longer.

I remember with full clarity the first time I recognized someone being ‘out of gas’. I was about 5 or 6 and it was late evening on Thanksgiving. Someone said to my grandmother that she must be tired and to sit down. She did, and for the first time in the day, she seemed to realize that she really was tired. I recognized the energy drain from her as surely as someone deflating a blow up toy by uncorking the stopper and squeezing it very tightly.

I looked at her and saw the exhaustion born of getting up every hour on the hour to baste the turkey that she had put into the oven at 3 in the morning. Of making sure everything was prepped and ready to be cooked in her huge kitchen by all the females in attendance, and that there were snacks aplenty for all the men (who were off doing whatever it was that the grownup men did). And snacks were not just a bowl of chips, but kielbasa and deviled eggs and the best pecans that she shelled herself in order to get everyone through till dinner without running out. The woman was a master scheduler to make sure the apple and pumpkin pies as well as the sweet potatoes also got cooked even though the turkey was in the only oven. I remember peeling potatoes and learning to make the crust for the apple pies so I can say for sure that she didn‘t do it ahead of time. I also remember that she had no dishwasher so all of us would take over her kitchen after dessert to wash, dry and put away the dishes for her. Somehow during all of that, she would manage to be gracious and kind to any and all that were in her house, getting or making more drinks or snacks for whomever needed more, all the while running her kitchen like the most precise ER in the country with never a harsh word for anyone. The feast was put on with a super-tight budget and she honestly seemed to enjoy the hustle and bustle of having 14 people over for the all-day affair of Thanksgiving dinner. Only after she was actually sitting with all of that work completed did she allow the truth of her exhaustion show, even to herself.

She was amazing on those family holidays, Christmas being just as big a production and Easter only slightly smaller... She is still amazing at 92, but she gave the family holiday duties to my aunt long ago. They’ve been good, but they haven’t been ‘right’ since. To be fair to my aunt, it is hard if not impossible to follow perfection.

So it is now, that when I find myself logger-headed after not enough sleep, chasing after my son or daughter and shaking my head in wonder about the boundless energy of my children that I think of Grandma Z. on those long ago endless family holiday gatherings. I remind myself that I may be tired, but I have no right to call myself exhausted. I don’t even make tired look good, but she made exhausted look fantastic. I was blessed to witness it, and although I may never attain it, I know what grace during exhaustion really looks like.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Stereo Junkie

Let me start by saying that my husband is a stereophile, or as I like to call him, a stereo junkie. He gets Stereophile and several other stereo equipment magazines. It is not uncommon for our only weekend outing together to include a Best Buy a Circuit City and a Tweeter store. I have unwillingly and unwittingly learned more about AV & stereo equipment than I ever cared to learn.
If he's 'gone missing' I'm almost certain to find him in the back room re-reading something about equipment from the stack by his side of the bed. The one that's becoming so scarily tall that I'm afraid our toddler will one day knock into it and be buried until he hits puberty.
I've come to believe that if I want more attention from my husband, I'll need to break down and get full body tattoos of stereo specifications... well, on one side, on the other will be a tool catalogue (he's a mechanic by trade).
What has baffled me from almost our first meeting is how detail oriented he is. I, for the most part, couldn't care less about details. I'm a general knowledge kind of gal, and I understand the workings and nuances fairly quickly with just a general brushing over of a subject, I can even converse and seem fairly well read on a subject with just a few articles. At least knowledgeable enough for party chit chat type of conversation or a basic phone call.
My husband, however, wants to know every minute and minuscule detail of every subject he delves into. He can (and will) talk you deaf on the intricate workings of integrated amplifiers and exactly why any one brand is better than the other and, why you shouldn't get the same brand speakers as the integrated amp (which is different entirely from just an amplifier!), but these brand speakers because their ohm ratio is better... you get the point, I won't torture you like he tortures me.
He wants the nitty gritty and I want the big picture. Kind of funny how the universe tends to put opposites like us together. Of the couples that we know, most of them are like us, one is all about the trees and the other is all about the forest. Although, when it comes to stereo equipment, I believe that my hubby is all about the veins on the leaves on the branches on the trees that eventually he will come to realize is actually in a forest.
Then comes the extensive performance testing whenever we get something new home, be they speakers or just the wires themselves. This takes several hours while he tries out everything from Sade to Pink Floyd to Chris Isaak, and marvels aloud about the better sound from whatever purchase has been made...over the ear shattering-head splitting-window rattling-dishes falling out of the cabinet volume levels that he prefers to test the new products at.
I guess true love is knowing that you're married to a stereo junkie, and instead of staging a full scale intervention, you put on your walking shoes, stock the diaper bag to capacity and leave the system on with a CD playing on full repeat so it will be warmed up whenever you make it home from every equipment store in a 100 mile radius. Ain't love grand?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Computer Trouble

So I was 'round-the-bend earlier when I tried to get in to do a post, and kept getting the error message from blogger that my email didn't exist. After trying several more times, I decided to break down and contact Blogger's help. Only to find out that contacting Blogger Help is akin to chasing down the end of the rainbow where the pot of gold is supposed to be. I played ring-around-the-rosy for what seemed like forever; my mind reeling and my coffee cup being drained like someone on a 24 hour pass from rehab at a liquor store. I had to drink the coffee like a mad woman because my throat hurt like hell from the primal scream that I gave out after half an hour of boxing with "help" and my super slow computer.
Ok, so let me tell you what's really going on with the super-slow... I live in the country. I have dial up. For three hours a day, I manage to attain a 28.8K connection, the rest of the time it's less. Annoying, but I'm kinda used to it and expect my Internet to be slower'n snail snot. However, this morning, with the inability to get into my blogger account to post about how I'm NOT a morning person and what that entails for me, the slowness made me crazy enough to hurt myself yelling at the computer--which by the way, gave no indication what so ever that it heard me.
I flashed on the scene from the movie Office Space when three guys take a temperamental printer out into a field and have at it with baseball bats. I gleefully envisioned myself wielding a 12 lb. sledgehammer at my processor. And how that is the very first thing I am going to do when I strike it rich and have the money in the bank to replace this damnable box with another damnable box.
The computer troubles have gone off the hook lately since I decided to open a dot-com business and fund it with my profits from my writing--which I'm having trouble finding time for since I'm working on the business that's supposed to make me rich enough to replace the computer, and the trailer, and what-all-ever-else I manage to fantasize about the money buying at that particular second (the list is getting longer every week...).
I've decided that I need to prioritize and come up with a set schedule that handles time for both instead of bopping from one to the other with no organization at all... Not exactly a glowing start for a business! This is why very few 'creative' types manage their own careers and business ventures. We don't linear think; if we did, our creations would be dryer than an Arizona summer.
Anyway after my meltdown and attempts to get help from Blogger-which I never got- and bouncing to my other interests to divert my anger/frustration to a manageable level and giving my throat time enough to not hurt anymore by smoking a few cigarettes--don't ask!-- I decided that it might just be a website malfunction and I would try one more time before coming so unglued that people would consider locking me up.
Turns out that the error message was wrong, and that it was completely at ID ten T problem. I'd changed my password and was typing it in improperly... so yeah... ID-10-T. Did I mention I'm not a morning person?

Monday, August 4, 2008

One Piece of Me

I've been trying to build my traffic and I joined a site that promotes traffic sharing, so I've been visiting many more sites than I normally would.

As I was looking at this one site, I thought to myself, "Wow, this person is really religious." The site was devoted to being a Christian, and it was focused in it's presentation and content. I got struck with another 'ah-ha moment' kind of thought almost simultaneously... "This site is only One Piece of this person."

I am so thankful that I caught myself (or was shown this) quickly as I started to judge someone I'd never met. Judgment of others is the antithesis of spirituality! And here I was doing it subconsciously. Luckily for my growth, it became consciously. Seriously, who the hell am I to judge anyone? Who the hell is anyone to judge another, especially if they haven't even spoken to or laid eyes on another person? Even if they have, and think they know another person, it is only a piece of that person. Even if you know them well, it still isn't all of them.

Could this misunderstanding of human behavior be the underlying cause of why people are stunned when someone they know does something they deem to be 'horrible' or 'inappropriate'.

I have spent only two years here in Texas, part of the bible belt, and I immediately started to understand why my thoughts had become judgmental at all. Then again, maybe it's just what I needed to see to expand my spirituality.

I mean really, if you have a very 'on a pedestal' type of view of your pastor or religious leader and then see them decked out in biker-black-leather riding a Harley, would that make them a poor pastor? Or would it make them someone who likes to ride motorcycles and knows that leather is the safest fabric to wear because it will protect you from road-rash if you crash. Ok, so I'm not saying that if the biker gear has Satanic things all over it you shouldn't give pause... but that's common sense, not judgment of another. There really is a difference.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this; the only person on this planet that you know completely is yourself at this exact second. Even you will be a different person with new thoughts, experiences, learnings and spiritual awakenings. Think of everything you were into 10 years ago and how different it is from where you are now. And that's just YOU! So why would anyone try to pigeonhole someone into their narrow view of who someone else is? All you're seeing is one piece of them. Besides, if you judge less, you understand more. 'Nuff said.

Friday, August 1, 2008

It's 'Bout Time!

I'd like to apologize to any and all that read this blog for my delayed posting. I've been 'learning how' to and doing some freelance writing. One of the things that all the books tell you is that blogging is a great way of honing your craft and recommend 1+ blog posts daily.

Well friends, I simply don't know how to do those shortie, 2 sentence blog posts. I write vignettes. I write full articles on life experiences and no matter how pithy a two sentence post may be, I cannot let it go at that. I have more to say, a position to back-up, an experience to share, a lesson that life has taught me that I can pass onto you without the heartache and time I went through.

I am not a typical writer. I only take assignments that I am comfortable with. I only write blog posts that I am comfortable putting out there to the world. Mind you, most of my family has no idea that I write this, and therefore, my comfort level is fairly wide. My writing has been my lifeline throughout my entire life. And to only be practical and realistic about it, I have been given something of a gift in this area. It comes naturally to me and sometimes it simply flows through me without much conscious thought of my own. There are times when I literally read something I've written and it's brand new as if I hadn't put it on the page at all. I wonder if other people that actually consider themselves writers do this. This disassociated free-flow of words onto the page only to be astounded by what has channeled itself through them.

I guess part of my problem with blog postings, is that I'm not an egoist. I don't think that everything I do is so special or important or interesting that I have to share my view of the world and my little section of it many times a day.

For the most part I consider my daily life as boring. I live my life; I send my husband off to work, I get on the computer and try to make some money myself, I take care of my toddler son, I talk to my pre-teen daughter, I do laundry and dishes and make beds and dinner. Whoop-friggin-eee! I almost put myself to sleep just writing it all down!

But, I have had some amazing experiences, known some awesome people and have a few talents and interests. Since I've been doing the freelancing I've come up with some blog ideas, and I will be updating with more regularity.

Thanks for hanging in there! I wish you; peace, joy, love, balance, courage, light and wisdom.