Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Monday, January 26, 2015

I think we all know how this is going to turn out

Monday, January 26, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - My dryer broke, and I borrowed some tools to fix it. It spins and blows air, but it doesn't get hot. I think it's the thermostat, but I'm relying on Dr. Internet, so who knows?

So I'm talking about with R.H., and explaining that 1) I don't know what the heck I'm doing; and 2) here's what I know about what I'm supposed to be doing, and he interrupts me.

R.H.: "Can't you just get some of those Hot Hands packets and throw them in the dryer with your clothes?"

Me: "Well, for that matter, I could just heat some rocks in the oven and throw them in with my clothes, but I think things should work as they're supposed to, so I'm not going to do that. I'm going to fix my damn dryer."

Or... I'm going to at least try. I'm expecting there to be at least one injury. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sleepovers haven't changed much since I was 10-years-old

Friday, January 23, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - This is how we roll on a Saturday night. Wii nunchuck microphones, jumping on the furniture, singing at the top of our lungs, just glad to be alive in this world. I love, love, love these kids. Especially that blond girl in the pink shirt. :-)

Saturday sleepover from Stacey McGowen Hudson on Vimeo.

FYI, YouTube won't make this video visible, because apparently three little kids running around lip syncing to Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" does not - according to the copyright owner - fall under the protection of a nonprofit, personal use production of parody or commentary, that will have no effect on the copyright owner's ability to capitalize on the original work or protect its integrity. Chew on that for a moment: Three tweens acting silly in the comfort of my home threatens Taylor Swift's multi-million-dollar empire. I disputed the ruling, but they rejected my argument. Oh, well. There are other places besides YouTube.

Also, I own too much crap. I'll be clearing out some stuff really soon.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How one Wal-Mart lost my business for good

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 By

Note: This post is super long. But I am super irritated. Still.

AUGUSTA, GA. - Christmas is a time for giving. But what do you do if your gift is a no-show? That happened several times this year to me.

We don't buy a lot of gifts for Emerson. She doesn't need a lot and we would rather DO things than HAVE things. But for Emerson to have lasting gifts she enjoys, I plan carefully and budget accordingly. She chose a 24-inch mountain bike that would last her four or five years, at least. Her only stipulations were that it was "a girl's bike that can ride over stuff because I want to do tricks" and that it is "not pink. Pink is my most hateful color."

The best deal I found was at I ordered the bike to go to the Bobby Jones location through site-to-store, a service of theirs that I have used several times in the past.

I received an order confirmation email.
Then I received a shipping confirmation email.
Then I received an arrival confirmation email.
Then a reminder.

Then I called the store and verify the bike's arrival and assembly. They assured me that the bike was in and they would assemble it. I borrowed a van (Thanks, Molly!) and went to pick it up.

There was a red-headed woman in her mid-50s working the counter. She was beyond frazzled. "No one wants to help me out here," she complained, and she repeatedly went in the back to request assistance. It took 30 minutes for her to help the four people in front of me.

When she was able to get to me, I produced my order information with a smile and a thank you. I wish I could say she responded in kind, but she was just beyond the extras - like smiling - and was boiling it down to basics - like not chucking the register onto the floor and rage-quitting that job.

She brought out a giant box. There was no one available to assemble the bike, and I said I'd just figure it out at home. Then I realized: This was not the bike I ordered. It was a boy's bike in every way.

She tried to argue with me in a very exasperated tone. "Is this your name?" "Yes, ma'am." "Then this is the bike you ordered." But I pulled up my email confirmation on my phone, which clearly showed a different bike and item number. She huffed and stomped to the back.

A few minutes later, she returned. "This is the only bike we have for you."

I blinked and frowned. "There must be some mistake. This is not the correct item that I ordered. I cannot take this home to my 9-year-old daughter."

"Would you like a refund?"

"Ma'am... no, ma'am. I would like for someone to find the bike that I ordered. I received a confirmation email of its arrival. I called and got a verbal confirmation. So the bike must be here somewhere."

She glared at me and stomped to the back again. She returned with another woman, Michelle.

"Can I help you?"

I explained the situation.

"Well, we don't have your bike. Would you like a refund?"

"No, ma'am... Listen, um, maybe I'm not being clear. I'm not looking to buy a bike. I already purchased a bike. I paid for it. It was shipped here. I have three confirmations. I'm just here to pick it up."

"I understand. But it isn't here. So would you like a refund?"

"Ma'am, it's Christmas Eve. And it's 5 p.m. How am I supposed to find a bike for my child?"

"I don't know what to tell you, but it's my Christmas Eve, too. Maybe you don't know what it's like to work on Christmas Eve. So if you could just be a little more..." She held out her hands in a gesture that was supposed to symbolize... something. I don't know what.

"That's... no, I just got off work two hours ago. And I have worked many a Christmas Eve. And that is not the point. I need to leave here with a bike. All I'm looking for is a girl's bike that isn't pink for my 9-year-old."

She sighed, because I'm apparently a big pain in Wal-Mart's ass. "Give me a few minutes."

Fifteen minutes later, she wheeled in a small child's bike.

I stared at her. "Be serious."

"I am serious!"

"That is not appropriate for a 9-year-old."

She stormed off and returned some time later with a tween-sized pink princess bike.

"Ma'am, thank you, that's closer. But she's not looking to cruise the beaches of the Mediterranean in a sundress. She wants to do tricks and stuff." I probably could have been less sarcastic. My bad. She set her jaw at me.

"Well, I don't know what to tell you. I can give you a refund, but that's it."

"Ma'am, there must be something else you can do."


"Can you help me find the bike at another store? My phone just died so I can't call around."


"Okay, can I just speak to a manager, please?"

She huffed over to the phone and called for two males by name, all while glaring at me. A minute or two later, I saw them. They cruised through the site-to-store area (now filled with people whose orders were wrong, no joke) cutting their eyes in my direction while I leaned calmly against the unmanned counter off to the side. Two Columbia County sheriff's deputies. You have got to be freaking kidding me.

Obviously, I was not creating any disturbance. So a couple of minutes later, one of them sidled up to me. "How's it going?"

I smiled brightly at him. "Fine. A little confusion, but I think it will work out."

He nodded and looked around. "Crazy holiday crowds, huh?"

"Not too bad. This is my last stop. Just picking up a bike for my daughter. You have kids?"

He ignored my attempt to get personal, as cops are trained to do. "So what's the issue?"

"I ordered and paid for a bike, got several confirmations that it was in, but they claim not to have it. I'm just trying to get a manager to help find a bike. They're not being much help."

He nodded. "They're really busy."

"I understand. But I need to leave here with a bike. I asked her to help me find one at a different store, but she flat-out refused. My phone died while I was waiting, or I'd call around myself."

Michelle, who had been pretending to work nearby but was really listening as we chatted, jumped in: "I never said that! I said they probably wouldn't even answer their phones because it's Christmas! I'm not going to have someone putting words in my mouth!" She cast her gaze around for someone to take her side.

At this, the lady in line behind me shook her head gravely at the officer, backing me up. I resisted the urge to call Michelle out for a blatant lie. This wasn't personal, and I wasn't playing to a crowd.

Suddenly the officer said, "Hey, the Grovetown store had a bunch of bikes. Why don't I call the officer working the special there and see if he can find one for you?"

I stared, open-mouthed. What a kind offer. This was definitely not his responsibility. "I would appreciate that so much," I said. He nodded and began calling numbers in his cell phone.

At this, Michelle stomped over to the phone and began dialing. The Grovetown store answered. She asked for toys. They put her on hold, then transferred her. The line rang four or five times.

"See? They're not answering," she said, and hung up.

"Don't hang - ohhh..." I sighed. I would have been happy to man the phone while it rang until someone answered. Too late now.

The officer clicked his phone closed and shook his head. "None of the officers at the Grovetown or Evans stores are on duty, yet."

"Well, thanks for trying. That was really nice of you."

"Ma'am, I'll be happy to give you a refund, but I don't think there's anything more we can do for you," Michelle tried to interrupt. I cut my eyes at her over my shoulder and finished thanking the officer. "That was really above and beyond. How long have you worked for Columbia County?"

He chatted about his experience, and I relayed who I thought might be a mutual contact. It was. Then another. Then another. He asked how I knew the folks.

"Oh, I used to work dispatch in Milledgeville for those guys. I've known [redacted] for 20 years, since I was 19 and a total idiot. I'm amazed he still speaks to me," I laughed.

Michelle stared at us, open-mouthed. She was not going to be able to convince him to arrest me today. I turned back to her.

"I guess I'm looking any solution you might have. A bike. For a 9-year-old girl. Not pink. Any ideas? Anything at all? I'm desperate. She's a really good kid. You would love her. Everyone does. I'm just trying to make her happy on Christmas."

She snapped: "I TOLD you that there were more bikes out on the garden patio."

I stared at her and briefly lost my composure. "You said no such thing!" I exclaimed.

"Yes, I did!" she said, smugly, happy that she had gotten to me.

I choked back a nasty reply and gave her a flat stare. She blinked. "You're welcome to check out there to see if we have anything."

"Thank you. I'll be back shortly."

I walked out and saw a rain-soaked hodge-podge of bicycles. None of them were for Emerson's age group. But one 26-inch blue and grey women's mountain bike was as close as we were going to get. I took a moment to let out some tears of frustration, then wiped my face of expression and wheeled it back through the store. This is never how I treated people when I worked in retail, or food and beverage, or even in high school when I worked for Wendy's and Taco Bell. This is never how I treat people, period. I didn't like being on the receiving end of a meaningless power struggle with a woman whose job must really, really suck on a good day, and be a special kind of hell on Christmas Eve. But she stood between me and a special purchase I had made for my child, on a very tight budget, when two other gifts I had ordered three weeks ago were most definitely not going to be in. I wasn't about to lose her "main" gift, too.

"Did you find something?" she asked, in as nasty a tone as she could manage. I tried to use a kinder tone, but I'm not sure I accomplished it. I hope I did. I was at least calm.

"I would like to point out that this bike is too tall for a 9-year-old. However, if you will be so kind as to match the price, I will be happy to take this bike home, so she will have the one gift she is expecting to be under the tree - with the understanding that I will most likely be returning it to the store the day after Christmas. And that I will still be filing a complaint with corporate, and using your name."

Michelle did so, without another word, glaring at me the entire time. I shook hands with the officer, who walked with me, chatting, until I stopped and grinned at him.

"Are you escorting me out of the store?"
"Nope," he said, with a grin of his own, and veered off through a side aisle.

I hope he got home early.

I wheeled the bike to the borrowed van, which was now late for its return, and... I couldn't get the bike into the van. I sat on the tailgate and tried to just breathe. A few tears escaped, despite my best efforts. I hated that I was this upset. I hated that I had used Wal-Mart. I hated that poor Michelle was so miserable with her job that her only recourse to take back any control over her own destiny was by engaging in a stupid power struggle with me. And, frankly, at that moment, I hated Christmas.

A nice man walked up and patted my shoulder. "Let me help you get that in," he said, and wrangled the bike into place. He gave me a hug and wished me a merry Christmas.

I cried all the way back to my house, then to Molly's. It was pathetic, really. But I was overwhelmed by Michelle's negativity, and by the helpfulness of strangers. Molly and her husband were wonderful, as usual, not at all irritated with me for being an hour late like a big jerk, and making them miss a family event.

Christmas Day, Emerson was ecstatic when she saw the bike, and insisted on riding it immediately. Mere minutes later, she injured herself while dismounting it - because, as expected, it is way too tall for her. As she cried, I felt angry with Wal-Mart all over again.

But she got back on it a few minutes later. And then rode all over the neighbor's lawns to show me how her bike was "a real mountain bike, not a kids' bike." Sorry, neighbors. Let me know if you need some grass seed.

Emerson insists that we keep the bike. We lowered the seat as far as it can go, and then I stomped on it for an extra centimeter or two. She uses the curb as a step stool and kicks off really hard to get going. Then she does a controlled fall when dismounting. It's kind of hilarious. She loves it. I guess that's all that matters.

As for Wal-Mart, I filed a complaint. The store manager called me. He didn't really care. He left me a $30 gift card - which I didn't ask for, but was nice of him, I suppose.

I spent it at the Evans Wal-Mart.

Some folks might think I am overreacting. But it's not the first time I've encountered a metric crap ton of rudeness or frustration at this very store - 45-minute checkout times, malfunctioning self-pay registers, reduced selection (at this point, the cookie aisle is just 15 different varieties of Oreos and Chips Ahoy), treating workers like dirt - and now they had essentially threatened me with arrest. It's just not worth the stress to go back.

Do you hear what I'm saying? I feel stressed out before I even enter that Wal-Mart. Why on earth would I go back there, when I have a whole city full of choices? How can they expect me to?

They can't. Because now I have a Costco membership.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Gov. Huckabee's racist Beyonce rant has no place in modern America

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 By

Sit still, so former Gov. Mike Huckabee can shame you 
for your children's pop music choices.

AUGUSTA, GA. - I swear I'm not trying to turn this blog into a political one. But every once in a while something so stupid happens that I feel like if the less-stupid people don't speak up, the stupid will multiply and slowly infect the rest of America.

Former Gov. Huckabee, I'm calling your recent comments stupid and racist.

The once-and-probably-future presidential candidate recently called out President Obama for allowing his children to listen to pop singer Beyoncé. Because her music is so easy to escape, right...? Huckabee said:

“I don't understand how on one hand they can be such doting parents and so careful about the intake of everything — how much broccoli they eat and where they go to school and making sure they're kind of sheltered and shielded from so many things — and yet they don't see anything that might not be suitable for either a preteen or a teen in some of the lyrical content and choreography of Beyoncé...”
The governor of a state most famous for pig farming doesn't see if Beyoncé lyrics might be suitable for a preteen or a teen. Well, how about:

This goes out to all the women getting it in you're on your grind
To other men that respect what I do please accept my shine
Boy you know you love it how we're smart enough to make these millions
Strong enough to bear the children then get back to business ("Run the World [Girls]")

Or is that too much feminism for you, Huck? (He likes to be called Huck in private when he's pretending to paddle down the Mississippi with an escaped slave named Jim)

Okay, that's not even all of it, y'all. It wasn't enough that Huckabee thought it was okay to disrespect the parenting decisions of a couple in whose home he has probably spent less time than Beyoncé. Oh, no. He had to go and diss Queen Bey with this bit of nonsense:

“She has an exceptional set of pipes and can actually sing. She is a terrific dancer – without the explicit moves best left for the privacy of her bedroom. Jay-Z is a very shrewd businessman, but I wonder: does it occur to him that he is arguably crossing the line from husband to pimp by exploiting his wife as a sex object?"

She has an exceptional set of pipes - AND can actually sing? The double entendre is not subtle, and not lost on us. The former Governor of Arkansas might have argued that Beyoncé has a nice "set of pipes," which can be used to mean singing voice. But setting it off from her vocal ability to "actually sing"...? Y'all. He was talking about her boobs. 

The fact is that the former Pig-Farmer-in-Chief for the 32nd largest state in the 50-state union, a state second-best known for being the headquarters of the largest employer of welfare recipients in the nation, does not really have any issue with Jay Z sexualizing Beyoncé - because Huckabee just sexualized Beyoncé by complimenting her breasts.

What Huckabee has an issue with is Jay Z being successful at capitalizing on Beyoncé's sex appeal, and by Beyoncé being complicit in it. Or perhaps - and this is also quite likely - on Beyoncé bringing her own ideas to the table, working her own self as a product, using her sex appeal as just one of her tools to accomplish her goals (you know, with her great set of pipes, but also her singing ability), and then Jay Z benefiting as is natural in a marriage between two successful entertainers. But, no. Huckabee compared Beyoncé to a prostitute and Jay Z to a pimp. At least he called Jay-Z a "shrewd businessman." He couldn't even give Bey that much. This is the woman who famously fired her own father from his position as her manager, and started her own company, Parkwood Entertainment. The company was founded in 2008 and breaks records just about every time it breaks a record.

Is Huckabee really unaware of the hurtful, misogynistic, racist stereotypes he's promoting? Of the centuries of oppression he's tapping into? See, no. He's TOTALLY aware. He's aware. Really. He knows. There has always been racially-based duplicity "moral" standards in society - and especially in politics. He's playing on those warped standards with an elbow nudge to the ribs of his base, like, "Black people, amIRight, fellow white conservatives?"

So, for the record: Huckabee can sexualize Beyoncé. But Beyoncé - who is a grown-ass businesswoman living in a free society - can't sexualize herself. And she certainly can't make money doing it. Nor can her husband. And President Obama and the First Lady will never have the respect they are due. No matter what, there will always be a white conservative looking over their shoulders and saying, "No, you're doing it wrong."

Maybe Huckabee needs to listen to a little Beyoncé:

You can't fix what you can't see. It’s the soul that needs the surgery. ("Pretty Hurts")

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

In which I finally win an argument

Tuesday, January 06, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - I had a whole argument with my cat this morning. It was ridiculous. I woke up to a weird scraping sound, only to find her chewing on the brass statue of Ganesha that sits on my nightstand.

"[groan] Sweetiebelle, cut it out. That's metal. You'll break your teeth."


"I don't care. I've asked you to stop it."

... "Meow."

"Don't be dramatic. It's 4 a.m. It's too early for breakfast."



... "Meow."


.... "Meow."

"Ugh! NO."

She crept over and bunted my hand repeatedly. I scratched her head and cheeks for a minute or two, then closed my eyes again and turned over.


"[siiiiiigggghhhh] It's not time to get up."


"YOU get up. I have two more hours to sleep."



At which point she cuddled up to my butt and purred for two hours.

I got no more sleep. But I won the argument.

That I had with my cat.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy Awkward New Year!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - So, I'm going to a New Year's Eve party. My sweet friend invited me. I probably could have taken the initiative to make plans with a little more specificity, but that would require me to be, like, social, and stuff.

Hi. I'm awkward.

There are people in this world who seem to meld seamlessly into other people's lives. Friends, relatives, co-workers - they have a stable network of people who do stuff together and stick around for years. Platonic and romantic relationships move at a comfortable and natural pace.

Those people are like unicorns.

I have friends and relatives and co-workers who love me. They have stuck around for years. I know this. But melding seamlessly? Don't make me laugh. I was born with a giant shoehorn attached to my body. Doctors were baffled.

So I'm going to this New Year's Eve party with a very good friend. And I know many of the people who will be there. I have known them for years. YEARS. I like them very much! I'm 63 percent certain they like me, too!

It doesn't matter. I guarantee I will spend a measurable amount of time casting about for things to say and worrying about what to do with my hands. Hello, everyone, get out your inhalers! I am here to mess up your pleasant social encounter and make everyone feel like they're 14 and talking to their high school crush.


Wish me luck. And happy new year, everyone! I hope all your unicorn dreams come true!

Monday, December 22, 2014

I fail at Christmas, but my mom wins at life

Monday, December 22, 2014 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - So, with Emerson being sick for two weeks straight, plus commencement and a host of other events, as well, I'm really behind on my shopping. I call my mother for some guidance.

"Mom, are dad's clubs hybrids, or does he have wood?" I blurt.


"I don't know. I would guess the traditional kind," she answered.

"Okay. Apparently that matters when sizing covers for the head," I reply.


"Oh, lord," she said. "Well, if they don't fit, we can always exchange it later if you buy it somewhere kind of universal?"

"I was going to run by Academy Sports. Or do you have Dick's up there?"

At that, I couldn't take it anymore and I burst into wide-mouthed, hysterical cackles.

"What's so funny?" my mother asked.

"I just ... I just asked if you had Dick's up there!" I half-shrieked, and put my head down on my desk, convulsed with choking, sobbing laughter. I could just about hear my mother's lips purse.

"Well... I haven't seen one in a while," my mother replied.


That was the sound of my head exploding.

My mother wins at life.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Dear Wal-Mart - oh, nevermind.

Friday, December 19, 2014 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - So, I'm sure it comes as no surprise to anyone on planet Earth that I had a less-than-stellar experience at Wal-Mart. But I'm not writing about it because I'm angry. It wasn't a big deal. I'm writing because it looks like a customer service success, but it's actually a failure of philosophy.

The scenario

I went into Wal-Mart to buy approximately 18 bajillion eggs for holiday baking - and another $3 charging cable for my phone, because I keep breaking them. I've been through four of them in six months. I got mad skillz, y'all.

Coincidentally, I had a coupon for a free package of Chicken of the Sea flavored salmon. Now, one of the last things I need is for someone else to prepare $1.15 worth of salmon, shred it, throw some lemon pepper on it, slather it with preservatives and give it to me in a foil packet. Minus the preservatives, I could have made my own salmon at home, for the same price, using less time and frustration than it took me to go to Wal-Mart to get a package of it.

But.... I had a coupon. For FREE.

So I scanned it and my other items at the number 44 self-checkout register and then scanned the coupon. The cost of the item came off, I dropped the receipt into the receipt slot, and pressed "pay now." I swiped my card, put in my PIN number, and waited for my receipt.


And then it charged my card, printed the receipt, and didn't return my coupon.

First of all, the item totally matched the coupon. Second of all, what if I didn't want the item unless the coupon was valid? What if the item I picked up was a mistake that I no longer wanted?

Now, this was only $1.15. I'm not about to pitch a fit over that. So I turned with a smile and caught the eye of the lone CSR manning the self-checkout. I can only imagine what a special hell that job is.

She did not smile back. Before I could even ask her for help, she snapped, without looking me in the eye: "If it's something that has to be taken off the receipt, I can't do that."

My smile tensed. "May I explain the issue?"

"Go ahead."

I did.

"Well, if you want a refund, you have to go to customer service."

"No, I don't really care about a $1 refund. I was just hoping someone might take note of the issue the machine is experiencing and perhaps put in a repair ticket."

She glared at me: "Well, I can't do that."

I kept smiling and kept my voice even and calm: "Well... who can?"

She sighed and motioned over another employee. I explained again.

"You have to go to customer service," the new employee said.

"THAT'S what I TOLD her," the original CSR snapped, angrily making change for another customer.

The customer eyed me as though I was causing a problem. Y'all, I really wasn't. I wasn't angry, or even irritated. I was just like, "Oh, oopsy, someone might want to fix that." But after being treated like a boil on her ass, I was beginning to get pissed off. I am not entirely certain that my attempt to continue smiling and remaining calm didn't look terrifyingly like a serial killer's expression. But I tried.

"So they can fix the machine? And how will they be able to scan the coupon?" I asked.

The new rep side-stepped, "Oh, they'll send someone over to get it out of the machine."

"Okay, thank you. Have a nice day," I said, and resisted giving the side-eye to the original CSR.

I walked to customer service, where there was - miraculously - no line. I explained again that the register was malfunctioning, and the very sweet CSR asked to see my receipt. I showed her, she punched a few buttons, the register popped open, and she handed me $1.15. Which I never asked for.

"There you go. Have a nice day," she said. "We're sorry you had a problem today."

"Um, well, thank you. But the register...? Is someone going to fix it? It might keep charging people incorrectly."

She stared at me blankly.

Mentally, I gave up. I smiled and gathered my things.

"Thank you. Happy holidays," I said.

"You, too," she smiled back.

So, that's a long story. But I wanted to illustrate some failures of customer service in this scenario.

No. 1: Don't 'anticipate the customer's needs' so much that you ignore what they say.

Yes, many of the issues you respond to will be repeats. But not every customer is the same. Listen to them as though you have never before heard what they are saying. Three people in this scenario failed to respond to my attempt to solve a customer service problem. All of them assumed I was just really intent on getting $1.15. I can assure you that salmon was going to get eaten. It was fine. I just wanted to make sure that the issue with the register was noted for future customers.

No. 2: The answer is never "I can't do that."

Customers understand that people's responsibilities are often compartmentalized. But saying "I can't do that" or "I don't know" should never be the terminal response from a customer service representative. A correct response is, "I'm not authorized to do that, but let me get/point you to/give you the number for/transfer you to the person who is." Or, "I don't know, but I'll find out. Just a moment."

No. 3: Treat people with courtesy.

I don't expect to make a new best friend in the checkout line. And it's okay if you're not delighted to see me. Really. Truth be told, I'm not always delighted to see people, in general. People are where the problems are. But for the love of all that is holy, don't treat me like I am the bane of your existence, and an idiot to boot.

No. 4: The CSR is not always right.

Now, I was not a jerk, but I have Resting Bitch Face that can look like I'm irritated if I'm not actively smiling. Generally speaking, I'm an intelligent, polite, functional adult (well... an intelligence-adjacent, well-mannered-but-sometimes-clueless, and fooling-people-most-of-the-time adult). But it's possible I'm in the midst of a gross misunderstanding. Like most people, I will take responsibility for my mistake and you can make fun of me in the break room later - probably while I'm simultaneously texting my sister to lament about what an ass I just made of myself.

No. 4: The customer is not always right.

The original CSR I dealt with had a clear grasp of this. The customer is not always right. Sometimes the customer is an entitled asshole. But assuming the worst about someone, being snappy, and failing to engage in basic interpersonal communication signals - like eye contact - only makes those people worse and the rest of  us hurt and confused. If you focus on the problem, and how to fix it, you can depersonalize the issue and calm down the jerk in front of you. I worked in food and beverage for many years, and I know that sometimes people are just looking for any slight - no matter how small - to get discounts or free food. But most people are good and kind and want to do the right thing and have a good experience. Don't overlook us.

The horrible people don't just make your job harder; they make EVERYONE'S jobs harder. We're all in this together. Us against the entitled assholes. Let's win this.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Conversation with IT Services

Thursday, December 11, 2014 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - I had been experiencing computer issues for a week. I was at my wits' end. Not only was my tower down in IT being repaired because the wackadoodle broke and rendered the doohickey TOTALLY useless (those wackadoodles... geez), but the loaner computer they gave me couldn't maintain a network connection. Not great when everything we do is web-based. I called IT services, which has been outsourced to a company that is not local.

Some background: We have to log into a network profile, which then allows us to access our hard drive. (Or something. Don't make me get specific and technical, or I will force you to write a press release, which I will then edit with a red Sharpie.)

IT: "How may I help you?"

Me: "Yes, I'm having trouble maintaining a connection to the network. I can't consistently get emails, send emails, check voice mails, or anything. Can you help me?"

IT: "Let me get your name and location, and I'll see if I can get in touch with the network guys." 

Me: "Okay." (I relay my information.)

IT: "Alright, I'll call you back."

Me: "Thank you."

Some time passes, during which I try to pull my voice mails, and can't. 

Then the phone rings again.

Me: "This is Stacey."

IT: "Yes, it's IT again. I've just talked to the network guys, and they confirm that there is a network issue on campus."

Me: "...."

IT: "..."

Me: "Okay, so... yeah, that's kind of why I called. Did they relay any other information to you?"

IT: "They confirm that there is a network issue on campus, and you may have trouble maintaining a stable connection to the network."

Me: "... Um... yeah, I... was kind of hoping there would be a fix...? Or... a timeline? Or... some kind of guidance on alternatives so that I can complete my work...?"

IT: "Well, did you save your work to your personal network drive?"

Me: "No. I saved it to my hard drive, but I can't log into my profile to access it."

IT: "Well, that could be a problem. If you save your files to your personal network drive, they will always be available, even if your hard drive crashes."

Me: "Isn't my personal network drive on... like... the network?"

IT: "Correct."

Me: "The network that I can't access right now?"

IT: "Yes."

Me: "..."

IT: "..."

Me: "Okay, thanks."

IT: "Have a great day."

Me: "You, too."

That conversation was going to go nowhere fast. I'll just go have lunch and hope things get better in the next hour.

Monday, December 08, 2014

He's bathed in the spirit

Monday, December 08, 2014 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - I sent out an email to all members of my organization about our holiday service project for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Augusta. I got an email back from someone complaining that they don't celebrate Christmas, and couldn't participate.

That's okay, I said, because it's for any holiday in the winter. New Year's is secular and perfectly valid. Why not start the year off with good karma? Long story short, he/she Grinched out on me. That's cool. Whatever floats your boat. But even though the email only said "holiday," and not "Christmas," I clarified the situation for some others. That prompted another round of emails.

M.M.: I don’t celebrate Christmas!  How dare you not know the affiliation of everyone on your e-mail list!! GAWD!

Me: Many members of the organizational family do not celebrate Christmas, which is one of the reasons that it's not a "Christmas" service project. It's just for the winter holidays. There are about 25 holidays from various faiths and traditions in the next 30 days, so we get to pick the one we celebrate and make the service project about that one! I might decide to celebrate Hogmanay, the Scottish new year, just because it sounds like fun. They do some kind of "fireball swinging." Not enough swinging fireballs around here, in my opinion. :-D

M.M.: I do not believe in the winter season or the word “holiday.”  Or fire. Still offended, M.M.

Me: Well, then, I apologize, and hope you have a happy new year - which is technically not a holiday, but a simple changing of the calendar.

M.M.: I refuse to acknowledge anything but the Mayan calendar.  #offended

Hahahaha! I love this place. :-)