Have you noticed, or is just the circles I travel in, that the survey has taken the place of Big Brother? Or maybe the survey is today’s hallway monitor. Here’s what I’m talking about.
Every time I take my car to the Hyundai dealership for service, everything is impeccable, the service, the price, the clean and comfortable waiting room equipped with wi-fi, coffee, and TV. And every time as I’m leaving, the courteous super-helpful service manager walks me to my car, opens the door and while I’m fastening the safety belt, reminds me yet again that “Someone will be calling or emailing you with a survey about your experience here today.”
Different scene, similar survey:
Once a year I go to my local hospital for ultrasound testing. Since ultrasound is utterly painless and non-obtrusive I actually enjoy it. But then the experience is tainted when the technician walks me to the front desk and not only reminds me, verbally, that I will be receiving a survey in the mail, but hands me a paper reminding me of the same.
And then there are the times I don’t even have to leave the house to be faced with that ghostly specter. Case in point, I came home Friday night at about 10 PM to find that not only was I lacking access to all but three stations on cable TV but my internet was out too. After an hour of reading about trouble-shooting and trying my hand at it, I gave up and called Optimum, my service provider
Believe it or not, not only was I able to reach a real live person at that time of night, but he was in Connecticut and not India! After a bit of trouble shooting and futile attempts to remedy the situation remotely, he told me he could schedule a technician to come out the very next day – Saturday!!! And then he had to go and ruin it. Yes he asked me if I would stay on the line to answer a brief survey about my experience on this call.
So what am I getting at here? all three individuals, the service manager, the ultra-sound technician, and the customer service agent were all very forthcoming about asking me to give them a positive rating , saying that their job performance reviews depended on it. This leads one to wonder would they be quite so super-nice, so utterly professional and so competent, professional and efficient without that survey dangling over their heads? I’d like to think so.
PS my cable and internet are working better than ever after the technician’s visit. “The Cable Guy” discovered I was getting absolutely zilch, zero, nada signal so he had to trace my connection outward to locate the problem. Speaking of someone doing his job well! He started with the basement – nothing.
So he checked the connection into the house
Unfortunately, still no signal and if you think that involved a bit of climbing,
his next stop was the utility pole.
But before you say yeah, that’s his job…….
Take a look at the other side of the story .
That’s quite a lean angle for a ladder to reach the top of the pole.
And there lay the problem. Squirrels! Squirrels had eaten the wires!
So despite the frigid temperature he put up a new line from the pole to the house to the basement junction box, and now I have a super strong signal and faster download times.
But there was one problem. As he was leaving he told me I’d be contacted for a survey!
Last week’s post was about The House of Mars under the siege of snow, and it included a picture of my poor forlorn clothesline; the clothesline I bought when my dryer died last April. Why didn’t I buy a new dryer? Because it was of the same vintage as the washing machine, and I just knew that if I went through the hassle of buying a dryer, taking time off to wait for delivery, etc etc, The washer would probably up and die the next day. And I’m glad I did.
The washer spun its last spin in July.
Now you may ask – why did I put off replacing them? A natural inclination toward procrastination might be # 1 on the list. Fear would be #2. fear? Yes fear…
That neither could pass through here.
Well, July turned to August, and August to September, and I settled into my laundromat routine. Having spent more of my life living in apartments than houses, I am quite familiar with the motions of going to the laundromat.
My best set up was my last California apartment, in Los Gatos; a tiny five unit complex. The laundry room was kitty corner to my backyard. I’d step out the door, cock my ear and if it was quiet, I’d come out with my basket of laundry, then go back in and continue on with whatever I’d been doing. When I heard the washer stop, I’d run out and transfer to the dryer. It actually entailed far fewer steps than here at The House of Mars.
The worst arrangement had to be my first apartment ever, in Yonkers, N.Y. There were three washers for 60 apartments. And as if that weren’t bad enough, there were only two dryers! I was teaching at the time and, if I timed it right, I could nab a machine while the stay at home moms were cooking dinner, and before the nine-to-fivers came home. When I set out for school on washday morning, I’d leave my laundry basket just inside my apartment door and that afternoon when I came home, I’d enter the building by way of the service entrance, peek into the laundry room, and if a machine was free, run like a banshee up to my apartment on the second floor and get my laundry.
But now! Doing laundry fits seamlessly into my regular routine……..
thanks to The Beach Shopping Center in nearby Peekskill.
Let’s get the question of the name out-of-the-way. I have no idea. There’s no sand, and the nearest water is – the Hudson River about five miles to the west.
Unless you count this.
I put my laundry in the car in the morning, and after work, go straight to the aforementioned shopping center
and park near the laundromat
walk across the parking lot and work out at the gym.
Besides doing laundry, the Beach Shopping Center also offers opportunities for take-out on nights when I have no food at home. Twenty minutes before I’m about to leave the gym, I call next door
or maybe the other next door.
So you see it isn’t so bad. Will I ever get a new washer and dryer?? I’ll let you know if I ever measure that door!
This winter and its snow deluges prompted a couple of Weatherman/politician verbal fisticuffs recently. A couple of week’s ago, Georgia’s governor, Nathan Deal, complained that the Weather Service fell short in warning the Peach state of the impending storm that paralyzed Atlanta. And last week New York’s new mayor defended his decision to keep New York City schools open based on an inaccurate weather report. Al Roker was swift in his meteorological defense in both cases, even tweeting all the way from the Olympics in Sochi to deBlasio. The gist of both defenses was Whatcha talking ’bout. We told you so.
Well, let me defend Al. I heard him on both occasions, as well as his cohorts on ABC and CBS. Both cities were warned. However, might I venture an explanation and perhaps a suggestion? Cut out all the various weather forecasting models, the European model, the Canadian model, the GFS model, all these whatever forecasts spit out by super computers somewhere up in the clouds. Or is it The Cloud?
I myself fumed one morning as good ol’ Al went through four models, yes, 1,2,3,4 of just whether or not we would get “significant” snow. Yes, eventually the weather service hit upon the right one, but it reminded me of my high school approach to answering essay questions. Scribble down everything you know and maybe you’ll hit on the right answer
Do you think they have a model that can predict when I’ll have full use of many essential components of the House of Mars.
Whaddya think, Al? When do you think I’ll be able to dry my clothes outdoors?
When will I be able to actually see pavement on my walk?
When will I get my driveway back? April, May?
‘Cause I’m feeling cramped in my present driveway.
Friday February 7 marked a year since Marcos left the House of Mars for the last time. I can’t say the time flew because his passing really changed the atmosphere and energy of the house. Speaking of energy, February 5 marked 5 months since Marble took up residence. Only 5 months? It seem like a lifetime and I’m not sure how I mean that.
Although Marcos was an extremely mellow dog, he had his moments when I first rescued him. There was his talent for honing in and snatching up anything on the street with a shelf life of 10 years or less. We had some battles royal as I’d try to wrestle unrecognizable specimens of food from his jaws of steel. I’m amazed no one ever reported me to animal control for abusing a dog. His best stunt was the time he managed to grab an extra-large slice of pizza from a box lying along the road and swallow it seemingly whole.
I don’t know how many times I commented “you must have been into everything when you were a pup. I wish I knew you then.”
Into everything!That brings me back to Marble. Looking back, I realize there were signs. When I called the rescue group back in September to inquire about him, I was told he was a “character.” And then, when he had exploratory surgery for an intestinal ailment that was never diagnosed, the vet could not stop marveling about how “bright” he was. Put bright and character together and you get the demon of The House of Mars.
I could go into a gazillion anecdotes but don’t they say a picture is worth a thousand words?
He was uncharacteristically accepting of this post-operative collar he had to wear. Maybe he knew the surgery cost as much as my second car!
But let’s get to the healthy bright character:
Let’s see, I wished I’d known what a mischievous pup Marcos had been.
Marcos died February 7
Marble was born March 5.
Be careful what you wish for!
I’ve been having a recurring nightmare ever since I left teaching. It’s practically the same each time. I am back in my kindergarten classroom early in the morning, in a panic because the principal will be observing me for my yearly evaluation, and not only am I unprepared , but months have passed since I’ve entered one lesson plan in the plan book, the book which the principal will be inspecting as part of my review.
So there I am, frantically filling in all the squares.
That’s Act I, Act II finds me without the pressure of the imminent observation, but similarly unprepared. As a result I’ve run out of off-the-cuff activities and the class slowly deteriorates, one child at a time, into raging chaos.
As a personal disclaimer let me point out that I never found myself in either situation but since I’ve had twenty years to analyze the dream, I’ve come to see how it correlates with my life. The dream only visits me when I find myself enmeshed in a situation over which I have no control. For example, it was a regular part of a night’s sleep in the years I was responsible for my father’s final declining years.Thank goodness, I haven’t had it in a while. So why do I bring it up?
Friday was the start of Chinese Year, The Year of the Horse.
That morning there had been an item in the news about some parents in Chinatown suggesting that the Chinese New Year be made a school holiday in New York City; their argument being that schools are shut down twice a year for the Jewish holidays. Without taking a side, let me point out that the Jewish holidays have always been days off from school ever since I can remember. However this wasn’t because of a majority of Jewish students. No, it was because the majority of NYC teachers were of the Jewish faith. Although I don’t have the figures in front of me, I doubt this is the case today.
But, oh yes, back to the dream….. That evening as I drove home from work, listening to NPR, there was a conversation about the proposed holiday. A caller suggested that perhaps the Board of Education could consider instituting floating holidays like some businesses do. That way children could stay home for whatever holidays are of importance to them. My contribution to the dialogue? “Floating holiday? Aagh. Choke, No No No! “
It’s a wonder I didn’t have a nightmare that very night! One of the worst things, at least for a kindergarten teacher, and I suspect all levels, is to have a significant percentage of the class absent. Back before vaccinations, when the first child came down with chicken pox or measles a teacher could just kiss goodbye any expectations of having a full class for weeks. What this meant was whatever you taught had to be re-taught. And unless you wanted the children subject to boring repetition
you had to plan a lot of independent activities for the “well” so that when the “formerly unwell returned you could teach them. And measles being measles, this was a shifting population.
The major problem was that for a significant proportion of the first half of the school year, independent activities in Kindergarten are a “Ha! yeah!” proposition. Don’t believe me? Have you ever seen the movie Kindergarten Cop where Arnold Schwarzenegger plays an undercover cop posing as a kindergarten teacher? Of course it takes him all of three minutes to lose control of the class.
His love interest, a teacher down the hall, comes in and restores control, leaving him with these immortal words of advice (and my favorite movie quote in the whole wide world):
“Always remember Kindergarten is like the ocean. You never turn your back on either of them.”
Pleasant dreams (I hope)
Superbowl XLVII is six days away so it’s time to place your bets. No, not on Denver or Seattle. On snow or no snow. The NFL is skating on thin ice here. This is the first Superbowl ever to take place in a stadium sans dome in the heart of an east coast winter, and just their luck this is the winter of the Polar Vortex. But here in NY, we know it will work out because all-knowing Pepsi tells us everywhere we look, especially in the subway.
NJ Superbowl? Oh yeah, the game’s actually across the river!
Even if it is across the river!
But never you mind – while those Superbowlers encounter snow and traffic snarls after the game — in New Jersey, we’re fine over here in our nice warm new York apartments, sipping Pepsi and munching of Buffalo wings. At least Buffalo is in NY!
Hey, hon, can you turn up the heat, and while you’re up, can you play a bit of Billy Joel?
As for the weather, only time will tell ….and Weather.com. I just consulted the all-knowing website and found that in addition to the usual yesterday, today, hourly, tomorrow, weekend, 5-day, and 10-dayforecasts, they’ve actually added a Superbowl category! The forecast for February 2 (Superbowl Sunday) in Rutherford NJ, yes, New Jersey, is 39 degrees and mostly sunny. But that’s the opinion of Weather.com. What does Pepsi think?
Before I accuse supermarkets of a deceitful practice, let me give them the benefit of a very minute doubt. Maybe a customer was careless in replacing a bottle of salad dressing to its rightful place on the shelf. But the more and more I think about it, the more that doubt shrinks. OK, here’s what happened.
As usual I consulted my supermarket’s weekly flyer and made my list. It’s not easy but sometimes I manage to buy only things that are on sale. Wishbone salad dressing happened to be one.
Since I tend to shop late in the day and at the end of the sale period, items are often sold out. But I was in luck . A few bottles were still on the shelf. I checked the price on the shelf and brought it home.
Now I don’t always go into a detailed review of my cash register receipt, usually settling for a fast eyeballing of it before I leave the store. But on Saturday I brought it home and went over it.
Wishbone Blue Cheese, $3.99 what the fugazi? That’s a long way from $1.49!!!!
I looked at the bottle and saw what had happened. I had bought the 24 oz bottle instead of the 16 oz that was on sale.
Okay I should have been more careful, but the sign right below it had said On Sale $1.49. Still the burden of making sure falls on me. But, you know this isn’t the first time I’ve come across the wrong size, or even a different brand being “in the wrong place.”….and not just in this store.
I see it everywhere. So much that I can’t help but wonder if it’s intentional. In fact I’ve been meaning to write about it for a while so I’d already been gathering evidence as I came across it.
These are Extra Large, not Large
These are the store brand, not the Vintage brand that were on sale.
So listen, when you’re out there in the aisles, be careful – don’t grab just anything off the shelf.
If your store has one of these, use it!
Meanwhile, guess what’s in this bag I’ll be bringing back to the store on Saturday?