Old Age & Customer Service!

Here we are again – let’s see what nonsense I can provide you all with today. Being an old fart, it is rather easy to come up with something age related to talk about. Especially if you are as old as I am and give some credence to Bette Davis’s old quip: “Getting Old isn’t for Sissies!”

So, before I go any further regarding aging, I read somewhere that the most famous quote about aging is just this:

Age isn’t a number, it’s an attitude.

I try to keep a positive attitude. Perhaps my comical rants and raves assist you all in your endeavor to keep a humorous frame of mind every day. I hope so.

While it is true, now that I am older, I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer but when conversing with others, many times I still get the point across. At least nowadays when someone asks me a question that I should know the answer to but don’t, I have a legitimate excuse for forgetting the right answer. I can finally blame my memory shortcomings on old age.

Although, over the years, we old fossils do come up with a trick or two when in a conversation with others and do not want to appear that we are “Out to Lunch” or not paying attention. How does this happen? Well, my educated guess is that there are times when our memory puts the “Out to Lunch” sign out but fail to let us know – you know, like giving us a hint indicating that “Elvis has left the building.”

How do we handle situations like that? Here is one little trick I learned regarding questions asked that we do not know the answer to but give an answer to anyways. When supplying someone with the wrong answer to a question being asked, and the person says, “What does that have to do with what I asked?” All one must do is respond with the statement “Oh, is that what you asked? I thought you asked me a different question, keeping in mind that you must then quickly make up a question that you thought they had asked so that the answer you provided would be correct. Did our memory step out to lunch without telling us? Probably not. What really happened was that we probably didn’t hear the question clearly because of one’s old age hearing.

Okay, let’s change the subject about getting older and our memory for a moment and discuss what many seniors deal with every day – “customer service”. Not any customer service department, I am referring to the talking computer that has a patronizing attitude. How many of you reading this remember the comment HAL makes in the 2001 film, A Space Odyssey?

I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.” 

Supposedly that is what today’s AI talking computer responses are about. We all know the purpose of talking computers being used by large businesses today. An educated guess on my part is that they are assisting with the cutting the cost of operations of the firm using them (talking computers) so that the higher mucky mucks can get larger bonuses. Others might say that they are designed to merely frustrate the customers calling for customer service. But mine is not to wonder why – mine is but to – what am I saying – I don’t even like that quote. Back to the talking computer voice mail.

Think about it for a minute – what does this computer do – it has a pre-recorded voice mail that apologizes for the delay because all the service representatives are busy taking other calls. It proceeds to give you a bunch of gobbly-gook tempting you to buy more of their services all the while telling you that someone will be with you shortly. And let us not forget the never-ending loop repeating the same spiel over and over and over.  After a while, in many cases, the customer hangs up or completely forgets why the call was made in the first place. Bottom line – the company is saved from having to address the problem.

Oh, and let’s not forget all the questions being asked of you when you do get through and try to discuss your problem with – are you ready for this – the computer assimilated voice, not a human being yet, that comes later. It happened recently when our WiFi went out.

Computer assimilated voice (CAV): Why are you calling?

Me: I would like to talk to a customer service representative.

CAV: I didn’t quite understand you. I think you said you wanted to speak to customer support. Is that correct?

Me: Yes

CAV: Okay, what do you need customer service for? Is it for your wireless telephone, home phone, television, or internet?

Me: WiFi

CAV: I didn’t quite catch that. I think you said you were calling about your WiFi. Is that correct?

Before I go any further, let me just say that after a while I got frazzled with the conversation and so I just kept hitting zero with the hope that I might bypass the computer assisted voice. It didn’t work. Shortly thereafter the computer assisted voice came back and being the optimistic person, I consider myself to be, I thought to myself: “This time it will be better”. I wanted so much to believe I was making progress.  And I did stay positive – positive that is until I heard the next phrase uttered by this computer assisted voice which said:

“Before I pass you to a service representative, I have just a few more questions.”

Just what I needed – “More questions!”

Finally, twenty minutes later, the next available customer service representative (a real live human being) finally came on the line and said:

“Good morning, what seems to be the problem?”

And I wonder why I feel like I am aging faster than an overripe banana.

Until next time!

Irony and Humor

Irony in the rain!

“The soul is born old but grows young. That is the comedy of life. And the body is born young and grows old. That is life’s tragedy.”  –  Oscar Wilde

Most of us realize that life never really goes as we think it should. On days we think it will be bad it is good and on days we think it will be good life can be bad.

Think about it for a minute. Remember back to when you went to work every day, day in and day out. You performed your duties to the best of your abilities because you knew if you performed well, hopefully you would be rewarded with that raise you had been looking for. The day of your annual review comes, and you are pleased to hear that you got the raise. You cannot wait to get home so you can tell your wife the good news. As you tell her, you notice that she is not smiling but instead is trying not to show you the letter she just finished reading. The letter that says your rent has been increased.

Or, and this thing actually happened to me. You have been trying for months to get switched from working nights at your factory to days and an opening becomes available, but you get passed over …again! So, you begin looking for another job. As luck would have it, you are able to find a daytime job, but you really do not want to leave the job you are at. So, you accept the daytime job but keep your nighttime job. At last, an opening comes available and once again you ask your boss to be switched from nights to days only to be turned down again. What do you do?  Do you quit and stay with the factory that offered you days (I mean let’s face it – 80-hour weeks can be brutal no matter how young you are). But there is another catch, and the story doesn’t end there. One of the requirements of this new job was that you had to join the union (your job where you worked nights was a non-union shop), just what you need – another expense!  But you know you cannot work 80 hour weeks for much longer and so you come up with the dues, join the union, and quit your night job. One week later you are laid off. 

Does one look at this as a comical event in life or a dreadful event? Is it laughable or ridiculous? Comic irony or an appalling situation? It then falls on you to choose between whether this was merely comic irony or an appalling situation. Life itself supplies the irony; it then falls on us to decide how we are going to deal with it. Preferably as a comical situation.

What it all boils down to is just this – we, ourselves, must try our best to see the humor in things that do not work. We all see things from a different point of view. The world is absurd, we need to step back and find the comic in the absurd. I mean, really, all we need to do is look for “crazy news” in today’s newspapers or on the boob tube. Then as we go through our day, we need to stop and see if we can find some incident that happened in which the relationship of what was intended and that which resulted created some irony. What do we do then?  Seek out the absurdity of the relationship and if you can laugh about it?

For instance, picture this scenario – you are sitting in on a meeting of an organization known as “The National Planning Association.” Just before the end of the meeting, the chairman of the meeting announces that they were not sure where their next year’s convention will be.

Or here is one about books – ever notice how many books there are in bookstores? You can find everything from mysteries, sci-fi; young adult; westerns; romance books, and so forth. Not to mention the numerous cookbooks with just about the same amount being diet books. See the irony here – one tells you how to prepare food and the other how not to eat it.

Bottom line is just this: “A little craziness once in a while prevents permanent brain damage.

Let me end this week’s post by saying:  

Sometimes I lie awake and ask myself “Where have I gone wrong?” Then a voice says to me: “This is going to take more than one night!”

Until next time!

From my Perspective!

Buddies

As we get older, we, at least me, find myself reminiscing about times gone by. Some days we wake up and are raring to go doing whatever it is that – how does that saying go – “float our boat!” Other days, like the one I am experiencing as I write this post are days that well – let’s just say my “get up and go got up and went!”  It’s a fact of life! I feel certain that each of us have our own little demons inside that on occasion cause havoc within our daily lifestyle. The secret is to not let those demons get the best of us. Push them aside.  Remember the adage regarding the individual attempting to ride a horse for the first time. When falling off the horse and being ready to give up, the eternal optimist of the group would look at the fallen rider and say: “the only way to overcome your fear is to get back on the horse”.

Having said that, today it will be my resolve to post two items. The first came to me due to reminiscing about times gone by. The second – using the comical portion of my brain – is to get you thinking, and hopefully smiling. 

Hope you enjoy today’s ramblings.

As I was reminiscing about old times the word “Buddy” popped into my head.

When I think of the word buddy, I think back to my working years. If I remember correctly, I have been what one might call a loner. Never one to make what one might consider close friends – I have made two or three friends over my lifetime that I could in fact put in the category of “Buddy”.

Two such individuals come to mind – one never truly became classified in my eyes as a “buddy” although in his eyes which I only recently learned – we were supposedly good “buddies” during our high school years. We reunited at a high school class reunion several years ago but haven’t talked since so I guess we weren’t as close as thought we were.

Another friend that I would class as a buddy of mine was an individual that became my boss many years ago. We sort of hit it off from the day of my interview for a position in the company he was working. I landed the job, and he became my boss. Over the years, we kept in touch even though he subsequently left the company. He was able to land a much better position and back then, when such offers came up, one grabbed them. However, later in life, the company he was working for wanted to transfer him to another city and he preferred not to move. By this time, still being with the company he had left and my now being in a managerial position, I was able to hire him back with him becoming my subordinate. Seeing that he wasn’t gone that many years, I was also able to see that all his former benefits were reinstated.

To coin a phrase that we hear every now and then, “What goes around – comes around!” The company I was working for experienced quite a few more downsizings over the years and subsequently he was downsized but was able to secure a job with another company. While I missed being cut (downsized) for the next few downsizings eventually my number came up. Looking for a job at age 55 isn’t all that easy but as luck would have it, I too was able to secure another job. Guess where? You guessed it, due to a good word this buddy put in for me, I was able to get an interview with the firm he worked for and got hired. Sad news was that while he was able to continue working for them for several more years, nine months after I got the job, they re-organized and yup, it was me this time that was downsized… again! I could go into what happened next, but hey, that’s fodder for another story.

To me a buddy is one that is there for you no matter what the circumstances. They do not judge or look down on you or try to change you. They give advice and counsel but are still right there by your side should you decide not to take their advice and move forward with your own plans. A buddy is someone you forged a friendship with that lasts a lifetime. You would go to bat for that person at the drop of a hat and he or she would do the same for you should you need them to.

This is what comes to mind when I hear the word buddy. And believe me when I say that being a loner all my life, it sure is a good feeling knowing that at least I had one or two true buddies in my lifetime. Of course, now that I think about it, in addition to those just mentioned, I hadn’t mentioned my best buddy. Now the girl that I married… She is my best buddy!

Okay, let’s move on to something different.

Thought to ponder

A marriage should be a continuous duet, not a duel.

Joke of the day:

Two Drunk guys walk into a bar…you’d think they’d see it coming.

Quote for today

“We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.”

Buddha

Interesting math statement

You can remember the value of Pi (3.1415926) by counting each word’s letters in “May I have a large container of coffee?

Senior moment

You remember when Dick Tracy married Tess Trueheart, and when Li’l Abner married Daisy May.

Let me end this post by saying:

There’s always a lot to be thankful for if you take time to look for it. For example, I am sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don’t hurt…

Until next time!

Mixed Up!

Are you closed or open?

Not feeling like my regular self now and being mixed-up, what you are about to encounter is going to be off the wall.  Hopefully you will enjoy what follows and by the way, I will provide the answers at the end of this post but don’t scroll down and peek.

Trivia: Did you know that it takes a skunk three weeks to crank out one ounce of foul odor.

  1. A.      Question: What three animals move their front and hind legs on one side and then their front and hind legs on the other side when they walk?  

For us really old timers – well, actually it is for our parents – here is one that will make you put your thinking caps on:

B. Question: When was the younger generation called “Flaming Youth”? And why? 

Did you ever think about those people who spend a dollar for a bookmark?  “Why pay a dollar for a bookmark? Why not just use the dollar as the bookmark?

  1. C.      Question:  Which of the following letter designs does not belong with the other six?

Y E N F H A Z

Here is another piece of trivia to ponder:  What does the following saying mean?  “When My Ship Comes In!” 

Well, a daydream almost all of us have had is “when my ship comes in” – such as the day when a large sum of money or a worldly fortune of great proportions is realized. This mythical ship is usually tossed away by the rough storms of reality, yet small wealth may be gained from knowing the phrase’s origin.  During the days when Bristol, England, was the busiest and most flourishing seaport in the world, local tradesmen extended credit to sailors’ wives who made their home in Bristol. This credit was extended to the very day when a husband’s ship was scheduled to return to the port of Bristol.  Because a ship on which her husband served meant her family’s livelihood, it became practice among sailors’ wives to refer to their men’s ships as “my ship.”

When a sailor’s wife went on a shopping spree, instead of saying “charge it,” as is the modern custom, she said, “I’ll pay when my ship comes in.”

More trivia! Ever been upstaged by someone else or had someone say something similar to what you were going to say but they said it first? I am referring to the statement we have all heard at one time in our life: “Steal My Thunder.”  Actually, in many cases, some facts are often stranger than fiction and such is the case here.  There is an actual historical record of a case of thunder theft, and as such we benefit from a phrase that means “to fear being deprived of the benefits or our own originality,” usually by a foul usurper.   The story goes that around 1700 there lived a famous playwright who also was an ingenious stage-property man. Among his most famous inventions was a machine that produced the sound of thunder offstage. Alas, one of his professional rivals stole his invention. So heartbroken was the playwright over his great loss that for a long time he wept bitterly, crying, “He stole my thunder.”

D. Question: Does anyone remember what the initials L.S./M.F.T. mean?

Here is yet another quiz question for you:

E. Question: What vegetable do you discard the outside, cook the inside, eat the outside, and chuck the inside? 

More trivia: Did you know that there is a separate silk strand for each kernel on an ear of corn.  

Answers to the questions mentioned above:

  1. A.      A cat, a camel, and a giraffe.  Bet you will look closely at these animals the next time you get a chance to see them walk – won’t you?
  2. B.      In the late 20’s. The reason given was because they, in the vernacular of the times, considered themselves to be “hot stuff.”
  3. C.      How many of you were smart enough to pick out the letter E – why – because the Letter E is made of four straight lines whereas the others are only made of three.
  4. D.      Lucky Strike / Means Fine Tobacco
  5. E.       Corn on the Cob

Until next time!