Responsibility

Four… Four Years… Ah, ah, ah, ahhhh

4 YearsI’ve been back now for 4 years.  I have achieved some of my goals.  Not as many as I had planned to achieve by now.  As it is, my original plan for life never did turn out the way I hoped.  Sometimes it feels like I may as well just hang it up and switch to plan B.  Trouble is, I don’t have a plan B.

I’ve admitted my mistakes.  For those, I am sorry.  I know God has forgiven me.  I’m still here when he simply could’ve let me die and be forgotten.  I am truly thankful for that.  I say a prayer every night letting him know just how thankful I am.  I also pray that he bless all the souls, worthy and unworthy in hopes they too appreciate the blessings he’s given onto all of us.

I always made the best of the situations I was presented in my life.  Even when it all fell apart completely and I had nothing left (2011 – 2012).  I didn’t give up.  I put my best foot forward, saved up enough money and got myself back to Michigan.  I’ve reconstructed my life, my credit and I’m still working to be a better man emotionally, physically and financially.  I did it on my own.  Though, I still have some work to do.

If I could go back and change it at the beginning, I would.  I still want to be the Dad I intended to be from the start.  Now also, a grandpa 🙂

I enjoy spending time with my oldest son, and I love spending time with my grandson Noah.  Who is happy to see me and plays with me.  I’m still trying to spend more time with my youngest son and grandson Judah.  I pray that changes soon before my time here is up.

Too simple to bother with…

Ah the beginning of the month.  That time where I take a bunch of calls for the first five days from customers who got that nifty notice our system sends out.

This is an automated note to let you know that the expiration date of the credit card number you have on file, with us, has passed, or will shortly. In almost all cases, your credit card company has sent you a new card, with a new expiration date. Please contact our office and update this information as soon as possible.

It triggers on the first of the month, when the month and year matches the month and year found on our customers credit/debit cards expiration date.  This gives the customer an entire month to call us with their new credit card information.

So the phones are busier from the 1st to the 5th of the month with customers calling to update their info.  Some however, despite the fact we notify them, don’t call until the payment fails on the following month.  Even though the paper included with their new card also says, “Please update your information with your billers.”.  They just activate their cards and move on.  Life is far too busy to be bothered with simple, but mundane tasks.

Then we get much nastier calls during the following month when their payment fails.  Such as:

My card is the same!

Hey, now it’s a month later.  You’ve forgotten about getting your new card.  Sadly our system won’t accept payment if the date on the card doesn’t match what we have.  Especially if it is passed the expiration.  Sure your card number may have remained the same, but not the expiration date.  Now that date has come and gone and we can no longer process your payment.  Like it or not, a simple phone call is needed to update this with us.  Please though, leave your attitude out of the conversation.  It’s not our fault you didn’t call.

Only the date has changed.

Sure, OK.  No problem.   Many times this is the case.  However, when you call, we always ask the same questions so as to keep card processing failures from happening.

  • Does the name on the card still appear as [insert customer name here], such as Henry R Dependett?
  • Is the card still a [MasterCard, Visa, American Express or Discover]?
  • Does the card still end in [last four digits], 5432?
  • Do you still live at [customer address on file]?

And you can hear the annoyance in the customer’s voice.  Like asking these few questions has somehow interfered with their busy day.  I’m sorry, I’m trying to be thorough so you won’t have to call back angry because your payment was rejected.  I’m not being stern, I’m not raising my voice.  I’m simply asking questions to help you help yourself.

No matter what, some still call back later pissed off because they got another email from us saying their card payment was rejected.  If you look at the images above carefully, you’ll see why.  Generally always happens with the 5 being changed to a 2.  Or vise-versa.  I guess they look similar.  One number is all it takes to make a card fail.  However, I’ve taken calls where the last 8 numbers are different even though I asked them on the previous call if it was right.  I guess they were still looking at the old card.  Still I don’t know why they take it out on me.  I asked.

My bank should’ve notified you!!

Uh… No.  They don’t do that.  That’s why when they send you a new card, there is a paper attached with remindful statements such as, “Please update your information with your billers.”.  Just saying, reading is fundamental.  Again, park your attitude.

I mean I get it.  Some people just can’t be bothered with taking an hour or two out of their busy day to call 3 – 10 businesses or logon to 1 – God-knows-how-many websites and update their credit card information.  You have these setup so you don’t have to call them, or log on to them every month to simply make a payment.  That’s too much work.  Golly gee.  Sorry your life is so horrible.  Goodness knows we try to help by sending you reminders.  Your bank gives you pointers too.  We try to be thorough on the phone.  Yet no matter how hard we try, some folks still call with fire in their eyes and hate in their voice because something went wrong and they got a nasty email or their service was cut off for nonpayment.

Food Fears

Bread is BadThings come and go in weird phases.  With movies it seems there’s the year of the dinosaur, year of the aliens, year of the zombies and then half a decade of awful reboots.  Fashion seems to do the same things every few years only with small twists here and there.  I’ve seen 80’s style clothing come and go a few times in the past 15 years.   Pastels seem to make a round every 2 – 4 years.

Food on the other hand seems to have periods of fear.  They also don’t seem to repeat.  Looking back we’ve had the fear of fast food, fear of pink slime, fear of carbs, fear of everything non-organic (this one seems to have a good hang time) and many more of the past years.  This of course has spawned a million and one diet plans that sometimes you can’t escape from.  Thankfully Fatkins er Atkins is finally off all menus of restaurants I go too.  I was so fringing sick of it.

Although currently it seems the big thing is fear of gluten.  According to WebMD, gluten only seems to affect those allergic to it.  Which is 1% of the population.  Yet you can’t turn your head without seeing or hearing about gluten-free products.  It has of course spawned it’s own gluten-free diet plan.  Fine whatever.  Which is even more stupefying considering I don’t subscribe to a TV service of any kind and only watch shows on the internet.  Netflix thankfully remains ad-free, but YouTube and Crackle are ad filled.  Fine with me, YouTube and Crackle are free content, so being ad-supported I’m good with.  But it’s the same ads over and over and over.  So when it’s a gluten ad, it’s insane to watch it 10 times back to back.

Over time, the gluten craze will fade and some new thing will arise.  I think it’s going to be bread if the whispers in the wind are true.  Whatever.  We’re all going to die, may as well die happy.  I’m not giving up my bread.  Maybe someday I’ll start baking my own.  Perhaps buying store bought bread is to blame.  Who knows.  Sure due to my CAD (Coronary Artery Disease) I can’t eat fatty foods or sodium.  I don’t need special diets or menus or ads.  I can consciously cook and order my food just the way I need it and not have it everyone’s face day in and day out.  I think that’s what drives me the most crazy.  The in your face and make you feel guilty if you don’t jump on board campaigns.

Also makes me wonder when people became so allergic to every little thing.  If I had to guess, it would be pesticides and additives.  We keep thinking we can improve mother nature.  Yet many farmers from 50-80 years ago are still alive today and they don’t have these issues.  They are simply dying of old age.  Yet they drank milk from Bessy, made their own butter and many other things.  Honestly, the only advice I see fit to agree with is eating sensible non-fast food or easy to make crap and exercise regularly.  Seems to be working for me.  I’ve actually been given compliments on I’m looking thinner.  I wouldn’t know, I look the same in the mirror.

Still we’re all gonna die anyway.  Try not to let your last years be too boring.

If you really wanted to expand, you could also go with the fear of diseases.  Remember AIDS?  It was going to kill everyone.  So we thought in the 80’s.  Yet we’re breeding more than ever.  Fear of Bird Flu.  Fear of Ebola… Sigh…

Sharing is not always Caring

Noise PolutionWhile the world is all about sharing these days, most kinds of sharing have convenient ways they can be filtered for content.  On the various Social Networks, you can unfriend, unfollow, unsubscribe, block and ignore.  Websites you don’t like, you can simply hit the back button or close the browser and the offensive content is gone just like that.  Even in real life, you can decide not to watch or look or listen to things that bother you.  Well… Usually.

But there has always been the group, even long before the internet was going on, that must be heard no matter if you want too or not.  No matter how loud your headphones are, or effectively you plug/cover your ears, they can still be heard anytime day or night.  Sometimes you can hear them coming down the highway long before you can clearly see them.  And listen to them long after they’ve passed you.  Complete douchebags with their cars, trucks and motorcycles.  Equipped with obnoxiously loud exhaust systems and over the top sound systems.  Pumping, thumping, ripping, revving and racing all over the country.  Don’t get me wrong, I am an old school rocker who loves live music, fast cars and going fast down a two-track on a motorcycle.  But there’s a time and place for these activities.  Even when I was a kid driving big block V8 engines with my overkill Sparkomatic stereo system.  Hey, I’m not like these folks and spend every dime I have to annoy everyone else around me.

And that’s just it.  There seems to be a large group of people with one or more of these items who must be heard no matter where they are or what time of day it is.  Four o’clock in the morning I don’t need to ripped from my sleep just to hear how some “Nigga, popped a cap in some bitch-ass punk, over some Hoe.“.  I’m trying to sleep, so later on I can help your moronic ass figure out what email program you’ve been using for the past 4 years.  When I’m out walking trying to listen to music I like while wearing headphones, I don’t need to hear your Harley revved up and echoing under the bridge at ear bleeding decibels drowning out every other noise in the world.  When I have a migraine headache and trying to enjoy the silence in my home, I don’t want to hear your Mom’s Nissan with the exhaust cut off blasting by.  I don’t need it, and I’m positive there are hundreds of thousands of other people just like me who don’t enjoy it either.

It seems every day I say, “Thanks for sharing.  Asshole.”.

When I had a loud car or stereo system, I was still considerate to others.  I’d only let it be loud out in the country.  Certainly easier to be inconsiderate to cows, horses, and the occasional farm house.  But when I’m in town, there may be a lot of apartments above stores (especially where I live now), or when I enter a residential area, I keep the roar dull and the music down.  As these folks may want to enjoy their day off.  Or sleep for their job, no matter what the hours are..  Or endure their illness without added discomfort.

Obnoxious assholes who must be as loud as possible wherever they go only prove a few things:

  • They have absolutely no consideration for others
  • They are completely self absorbed
  • And have too much money

That and how Rappers and Country singers really need to let a cheating woman go, they aren’t worth the jail time.  But that’s a rant for another time.

Public Service Announcement

OGODHELPMEIt’s often said in these modern times, “Common sense is so rare, it should be considered a super power!”.  I would have to agree.  People just don’t think before they act.  Once in a while I’m guilty of this, but usually only when pushed really hard.  I’m so surprised that people never think when they use a phone to call someone else, they automatically assume that the person on the other end knows everything going on in the customers home.  So this means the caller can leave out all the important details.

You can’t call a mechanic and tell them about a noise your car is making without telling them what kind of car you own.  You can’t ask a doctors advice when you can’t tell them the symptoms.  You can’t call support without telling us what it is you’re having trouble with.  If your only answer is “I don’t know.”, then we don’t know how to help you.  It’s that simple.

It doesn’t matter if you bought the item, or if it was given to you.  If you own it, you should know the very basics as to what brand it is and be able to read simple things like the model number printed on it.  You should have noticed in the months or years of using it, what are the particulars of it.  Such as an email program.  You should’ve seen the name of it by now.  Either under the icon or at the top of the window when it’s open.

Example being, if you own a computer, you should be able to tell me the following:  (None of this information is “technical”.  It’s easily found on the body, on a sticker or on your screen.  This is called reading, and reading is fundamental.)

  • Brand (HP, Dell, Acer, etc…)
  • Model (2200, XPS 8700, etc…)
  • Software frequently used (Windows 7, Internet Explorer 11, etc…)

Any “technical” information I need, such as processor, ram, hard drive, and so on.  I will help you locate it or look it up once I get the information above.  See how those few, easy to find things can help us?

There are only three things I ask, or any other tech person would ask of any one person when they call:

  1. Know what you own.
  2. Read to me exactly.
  3. Listen to me.

I’ve covered this before in fairly good detail.  If all you’re going to do is assume I know, argue with me when I ask and then get overly sensitive and act like a child, I’m at a complete loss.  No one can help you.  Hire someone to come to your house and do it for you.  We don’t offer that service.  If you want free help over the phone, you’re going to have to participate a little.

In a recent case.  A customer insisted that we gave them the equipment.  After many calls and much frustration, it turned out that an ex-employee gave them a piece of equipment, programmed it, and set it up for them.  None of it was documented anywhere.  The equipment was something we had never carried in stock for sale.  None of the current staff had any familiarity with this equipment.  Though being the person I am, I explained this carefully and offered to reprogram it free of charge.  All they had to do was bring it to a service location.  This was not a good enough offer.  Instead they chose to cancel service and then post their dissatisfaction on our company Facebook page like a 12 year old having a drama fit.

The major complaint was that I laughed at them during a call.  And that I was condescending to them because I insisted they tell me what they owned in order to be able to help them.  When in all actuality, the absurdity of them arguing with me.  Arguing about how I should know what they own and that they should not have to do anything to help me help them.  I’ve never been to their home, I’ve never seen their equipment and I have no way of knowing if they bought anything new.  It was too much for me to take at one point, and I chuckled.  It was not an all out laugh.  Sure I feel a tiny bit sorry about that.  However when they blasted our Facebook page with accusations of making fun of them, taking them seriously became very difficult.  We all know I don’t like Facebook.  This just proves it is not a good customer tool.  If they wanted an apology, they should’ve called my supervisor and I would’ve said I’m sorry for it and perhaps been disciplined.  You cry like a little kid in a shopping mall and the only thing that will happen is no one will want to listen to you.  I have a severe disdain for overly sensitive people anyways.

If you really want good service when you call, consider these following things:

  1. Make note of the exact error you are receiving, and repeat it exactly when prompted.
  2. If your frustration level is high, please take a break and calm yourself before calling Tech Support.
  3. Do not fuss and curse at the technician.
  4. Do not call Tech Support when you’ve been drinking or under the influence of other mind altering substances!
  5. Have your computer on, be in front of it as well as ensure you have the proper time to work on it.
  6. Please do not start your call with “I’m computer illiterate”!
  7. Please do not throw your “title” at us, or job qualifications.  (or tell us how long you’ve been a customer)
  8. Listen to Tech Support carefully, and do not click or press keys unless told to do so.
  9. Be honest with your Tech Support Personnel, inform them of any and all changes you have made recently.
  10. Remove any or all distractions before calling Tech Support.

Just sayin’

A Quiet Christmas

Quiet ChristmasI’ve decided not to celebrate Christmas this year.  I’m just going to enjoy the day off in the middle of the week instead.

Traditionally speaking, Christmas is a beautiful time of year.  Especially up here in the Great White North, where there is actually snow.  I’ve had so many green Christmases the past few years, this will be a welcome change.  However, Christmas has also been a time of year for bad things to happen to me.  I won’t whine about what happens.  That’s just the way it has been.

This year it’s just about money.  I know last year I only bought a few things for a select few people and said I’d try better this year.  Unfortunately it hasn’t worked out the way I had hoped.  On top of medical bills for my heart, now I have medical bills for the surgery I had done earlier this year.  Of course, the fact that I’m still making payments this far along, means that most of my bills have made it to collection agencies.  The payments are now going to them.  Whatever, I’m paying my bills.  It’s just taking time.

I’ve considered buying a small fake fiber optic tree like I used to have to decorate my place with.  Just couldn’t bring myself to spend the $20 on it.  So I’ll deal with my über-tiny USB tree.  Perhaps I’ll attach it to the top of my TV.

I still want to make my Christmas Cards, like I’ve done the past two years.  Providing mother nature cooperates with my idea for this year’s card.

Hackers and Stalkers….

Hacking an AccountOne of my biggest annoyances with social networking, is how we simply degrade the meaning of terms.  Terms that once held, in what I would call, a higher standard before as opposed to the way it’s used today.

Hacker

It’s funny how the term hacking has really lost most of its meaning.  Hacking used to require skill to obtain the previously thought unobtainable.  Now all one has to do to “hack” is wait for someone to forget to log out of their account and simply mess with openly available settings…  I’m so very disappointed that just about anyone can be considered a hacker now.  Back in the day, you wouldn’t even get called a hacker if you used a known exploit to obtain your objective.  You were looked down upon as less than a hacker, and given names like “script-kiddies” or something along those lines.

To me, what is happening in most cases, should simply be referred to as a “prank”.  The target person or so-called victim, didn’t pay enough attention to the fact that they forgot to log out of their account before walking away.  Someone else simply took advantage of this situation to be mischievous.  In the case of my nephew doing this very thing yesterday, he’s now being punished for hacking the account.  He hasn’t discovered the password, he didn’t bypass any security measures and he is certainly not posing any threat to any other users on Facebook.  He merely took advantage some someone’s carelessness in order to have a little harmless fun.  I am certainly not against him being punished.  However, punish a person for their crimes, not for the victims ignorance, and then label the perpetrator something they are really not.

Stalker

I’m sure when his mom figures out why I wrote this post, she will likely refer to me as a stalker.  It seems everyone is a “stalker” now.  All one has to do to earn this label today, is merely read what is publicly available to them.  It used to be that this term, was a gross and disgusting label that was once given to only people, who literally had some mental issue that would instill fear in to their targets.  I cringe every time I get called a stalker.  It makes my skin crawl and turns my stomach, as I would never ever want to be labeled a stalker.  I don’t think it’s remotely funny, I do not find it a cute term of endearment, or even think it should be referred to as someone who reads.  That’s all it amounts too these days.  What the hell happened to society.   I mean, if you don’t want my opinion, reaction or want me to know something.  Then don’t post it where I’m likely to see it.  The object of social networking, as far as I know, is for community involvement in one means or other.  The first and foremost is through commenting.  This post actually started out as a comment to my nephew’s incarceration as it were.  However, it turned into the straw that broke the camels back of my frustration with the flagrant misuse of these two terms, and has evolved into one of my “I hate how the world has become more ignorant and stupid”, rants.

I realize this is my own personal pet peeves with society in general these days.  I also realize that the majority rules.  So many people do this kind of nonsense thanks to the wonderful world of the internet and social networks.  Everyone has to do something in order to make themselves feel cool now.

The question is, what’s next?  Will I soon be considered a rapist because I “friended” (there’s another idiotic term…) the daughter of a close friend of mine, who just happens to be under the age of 18?  Honestly, that would be a seriously sick accusation.  Then again, I don’t think being called a stalker is much better.

Whatever happened to Workplace Etiquette?

When I first got a job in the 1980’s.  I was also introduced to something known as an Employee Handbook.  This described how the company I decided to work for expected me to look, how they expected me to treat customers and what I was and was not allowed to do when I was earning money from them.  This included, keeping my hair cut, my face shaved or my beard trimmed neatly.  My fingernails properly cut.  Restrictions on jewelry, if any.  Proper attire for what kinds of shirts, pants and shoes I should be wearing while on the clock.  This book also covered things like not using profanity in front of the customers or even in range of customer hearing.  Many times, it included no cursing at the workplace at all.  It even went on to cover things like making personal calls.  In general, while on the clock, you were not allowed to make personal calls.  Unless you got permission from your supervisor first.  Even then, it was to be restricted to urgent family matters or arranging for transportation.

Times have certainly changed.  Not for the better as far as I’m concerned.  Over the past decade or so, no matter where I’ve traveled, I’ve noticed something I find highly disturbing when I frequent places like the grocery store, the local convenience store, restaurants of all kinds (from fast food to chains such as Olive Garden) to doctors offices, repair facilities and more.  There is a huge relax in such policies or perhaps many businesses no longer have such policies in place.  Almost every business I go into, I hear employees cursing and swearing as casual as they like.  Talking about anything from sexual endeavors to using expletives to describe how unhappy they are and telling dirty jokes and it’s as if they don’t even care who hears them.  They don’t make any effort to keep their voices down.

When I go to a check out at a small store, there are many times a clerk is on their cell phone talking or texting and won’t even greet me most of the time.  They simply ring up my order and say the total of my purchase.

Granted, I’m not a huge participant in superficial conversations with strangers at times.  It is however, customary to greet your customer who is supplying the money of which will end up in your paycheck with some sort of pleasantry and to make them feel like they should come back to the business for further transactions.  Hence growing the business and hopefully the employee paycheck for bringing return customers and growing company profits.

If I were a business owner, I know I’d want pleasant employees who don’t offend customers with profanity, who give attention to the customer and gives effort to make them happy.  Perhaps it’s hard to find such employes.  Whatever happened to discipline in the workplace?  Good Etiquette?

It has become so prevalent, that it sometimes makes me wish I could take their smart phones and insert it rectally with incredible force, thus giving these useless constituents a true reason to utilize profanity.  (and it may even improve my own experience at their place of employment)

Note: I love Clerks 2, but it was the best example I could come up with for the point I am making.  Sorry Kevin, please forgive me 🙁

Life’s Little Evil Grins

Sometimes I get just enough satisfaction out of the stupid decisions people make.  Take today’s case.  A customer who has had their website hosted with us for many years, but decided a few years ago they wanted someone else to handle the email.  Due too their lack of making themselves aware of their decisions then, the decision they made today has interrupted their business.   All because they didn’t think through the consequences of their actions.  This is especially satisfying when they send me a snarky email from the domain in which we happen to control.

I’ll try to help explain what happened using a simplified chart (click for larger image), as many of you also don’t know how web hosting works either.  However, I want you to see why my grin is so evil.  See, the customer bought a domain name and got hosting with us some time ago.  A few years ago, they decided they wanted a different company to host their domain email, but keep their website with us.  In order to do this they did the following:

  • First they pointed their domain to our servers.  This makes it so our servers answer for any requests for a website or email.
  • When they wanted to have another company handle their email, they asked us to point all mail to a different server.  This means all email requests come to us, but are redirected to a different server that we don’t control.

Today I get a nasty little email stating they stopped using us nearly a month ago and that they insist we cancel their service.  The email came from their domain.

Doing my job as I do.  I check to see if their domain is still pointed to our servers.  It is.  So once I stop the service, all services will stop as well.  Which means I can’t reply to their email as it won’t work.  Even though their email is with a different company, all requests have to go through us to get to the other company.  So now, none of their email works.  I’m sitting here waiting for the call asking why their email doesn’t work.  When they do, I will simply refer to the nasty email stating that they stopped using us nearly a month ago, and then point out I guess they still were using our services after all.  I’ll also ask if they would like to continue service, or give them the option to go to wherever they got their domain from, and work out the DNS there.  However, that option will take a few hours for it to fix their broken email.  All because they didn’t think before they got snotty with me.

Ah.. Justice 😈

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