TWL: do what you know is right, even when it’s hard, even when nobody is watching

On this Tuesday with Laurie, I have to admit this: Texas worries me.

I worry about my friends in Texas. With the pandemic far from over, Texas is wide open. Poor decisions can hurt people, but not when smart people fully comprehend the idiocy of such decisions. After more than a year of pandemic we have all suffered too much and are all smart enough to take the intelligent path without being told to do so.

I should point out this was the first week with fewer than half a million new cases since October 20, 2020. The decline in new cases in America this week was tiny, still a decrease from last week but not by much. We’ve been here before: on a fragile plateau right before the next surge. We have to watch and worry about states like Texas because they will lead our country to yet another horrifying surge unless their people refuse to follow dangerous advice.

Dear Customer Service,

I am calling you as an absolute last resort. I have tried everything on your website because I know the first advice you will give me is to visit your website and quit bothering you.

I have just come from your website and while trying to pay with two forms of payment a big red banner told me to call you for “help” to which you replied, “I’m very sorry I could not help you.”

My silence probably seemed like I was patiently waiting, but I was weeping.

Then you asked me to complete a quick survey. That made me laugh.

We hung up (or got disconnected (by you) when I swallowed my tears and threw on my rage cape and pulled out my sword).

I returned to your website certain that this customer had not been served and your company really does not deserve my dollars but I really wanted that sweater. All by myself I figured out that you were wrong, and your website really WILL accept two forms of payment iff (that extra f means if and only if) one of them is your very own store’s gift card which I then purchased (with my *prepaid gift card from the other company who tried to scam me) as an e-gift, received in my email box in minutes and used with my credit card on your site–essentially using two forms of payment in a simple cycle that your company really should comprehend since they set up your website and none of this is rocket surgery.

So I called you back, got another agent, asked for help again to see if she knew the answer, got the same brick walled apology, a suggestion that I should just risk my life in the pandemic and go to the actual store, and then. THEN. I took a deeeeep breath and said, “I have some help for you. I found the solution and want to explain it to you, so you can help the next customer with my same question. It’ll mean you won’t have to apologize all day long for inadequate training, your customers will remain customers, your surveys will get 5 stars, and your company won’t go bankrupt. All you have to do is change your script like this–“

She interrupted, “Script?”

I laughed. “The words you are reading back to me that start with ‘I’m sorry, but–.’ That’s called a script.”

“Oh. I’m sorry, but I can’t make changes to the script.”

Not weeping, I threw up my hands and said, “OK. I hope the rest of the customers who call today are happy. Can I go to the survey now?”

And, without a goodbye, she cut me off. No survey. No script edits. No paying it forward help to the next brave soul who calls for help. So I am writing to you now to give you this crumpled sad face emoji, a fist bump for luck, and solemn advice: your career in customer service is a dead end. It’s a really tough job and you just don’t have the skills.


Laura the Grump

PS. Though your script didn’t prompt you to suggest this, I should mention that I do realize I could have cut my order in half and paid with two cards on two orders but I’m a strategic shopper. I wanted the free shipping and the K-h-‘s CA-H so my very strategic order had to stay in one transaction (even though you guys will ship it in seven boxes in seven days).

PSS. Though you didn’t ask and don’t care, I should also mention where the *prepaid gift card came from. On Black Friday 2020 I purchased new cell phones for the family based on an unbelievable too-good-to-be-true deal. Of course for the first few hours I attempted to order and purchase the phones on the website, but hit the brick wall and finally gave up and called Customer Service who explained the website has limitations and only they have the true power to activate the deal of the century. All I had to do was switch carriers, pay a boat load of money upfront, and for the same monthly payment as my previous carrier where the family managed to share a teeny-tiny-little-bit of data, we’d get unlimited everything AND $700 phones for $99 AND a crown AND they’d walk my dog. But that’s not all. For each phone we’d also get a $100 prepaid Mastercard. By the time we got to that shiny carrot, I’d been online and on the phone with four different agents for hours. They sort of knew that had me hooked because I was getting tired of the process when the fourth agent whipped out the but-that’s-not-all ace of these prepaid cards. Well, to make a long story longer, we didn’t activate the phones until Christmas, which was when I asked about the $100/phone promise and why I hadn’t received them yet and was told I had to “claim” them. I thought that was odd, but I did it. They said it would take 6-8 weeks to receive them. I’m gullible. I waited. I should have known they had no intention of giving me the promised dollars when they made me “claim” them. Yesterday I signed in to check on them and the page said “denied” on each. I called and got another agent who as usual made up some reason why the previous agent did it all wrong and only he really knew how to do it and would fix it personally for me by overriding the denials and within 72 hours I would get an email to activate the imaginary snake-oil cards. I just went along with it, now not believing it would ever happen. At the end of the call “Nick” asked if there was anything else he could do and when I said no he said, “OK. But I have one more question for you: will you still give us an excellent rating?” I answered, “Sure, if I ever get these cards.” He cracked up. It was a little funny, but I figured he was just laughing at me.

So when the activation text messages appeared on my shiny TV-sized phone this morning, I knew I had to spend them right away or they’d go poof back into the infinite ether. Also, immediately DH spouted ideas about spending the dollars on a new vacuum cleaner and that does not sound like a prize to me for all my effort.

If I strategically spend them in spurts, each time I can accrue more K-H_’s C-SH to get more stuff, all with free shipping. This elaborate plan could have been avoided if I just got these cards three months ago when they were first dangled, and applied them directly to the cell phone bill. But then I’d have missed out on such delightful customer service.

TWL: one year ago, one year from now

One year ago there were 59 total cases of COVID-19 in the US. As of right now the total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US is over 28,000,000.

As of this week, total global deaths 2.5 million; total US deaths 502,500.

New cases this week 508,000; average cases per day this week 72,500. On the graph you can see the decrease has slowed. When this happens we brace for a plateau, and then a new surge. Let’s hope the decline continues.

Here’s what I wish: On the week of February 23 in 2022, one year from today, only 59 confirmed cases in the US.

TWL: Paczki Day

TWL: Paczki Day

We lived in Michigan in the 90s and besides the accent, we picked up the habit of donuts called Paczki and I swear they called them “Punchkeys.” Sugar-coated and jelly-filled, these warm donuts are delicious. Instead of dinner tonight, we’re having homemade strawberry preserve-filled Paczkis because tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and in COVID times one should never miss a private meeting with a donut.

What can we celebrate? My mom got her first COVID-19 vaccine. Donald was declared guilty by 57 senators for what everyone saw him do. Spring is coming. It is finally PC to discuss well-fitting masks. One year ago my sister asked if she should keep her kids home from school, my daughter started stocking her pantry, and my family in many states went into deliberate hibernating lockdown. Across the country other families did the same. Finally, the numbers of new cases are coming down. Less than 600,000 new cases this week. It’s been four months since we’ve had numbers this low. If we can just keep decreasing and not bump back up again like we did after the first two declines…if only…

While we fear the mutations that are more contagious because the virus particle modified its spikes to be stickier, we can appreciate what Darwin taught us in high school and know we are, as a species, smarter than the smart virus. There must be a path out of this mess and while we wait we should definitely eat donuts.

As usual when I bake something new, there were challenges. The centers did not quite cook all the way, but that’s ok because I saved four in the fridge to fry in a few days–so I’ll get a second chance to redeem myself and if I make bacon with them I’ll be re-crowned queen of the kitchen. The jam clogged the tip of the pastry bag so I took it off and just used the bag with the inner plastic sleeve. My kitchen looks like I lost a wrestling match with a squirrel and a bucket of baby powder. The powdered sugar completely covered my face and tip of my nose while I ate my punchkey. Luckily nobody with a camera had clean hands to capture the image.

TWL: simple math of 56 out of 85

Only 17 Republican senators need to vote with their gut to do what they know is right and convict Donald of inciting an insurrection. Only 17–if all are present for the final vote. Today six showed their hands, so who are the other 11 going to be? They say there are 15 more Republicans who have not officially shown their hands. If those 15 stay home for the final vote, the Senate will convict as they know they must. If they absolutely cannot stand against the Donald, if all of them truly fear him still, by staying home these 15 will silently, (gutlessly), yet effectively do what they know they must–what we all know to be the right thing to do: prop up the fraction by diminishing the denominator; aka #convict.

Donald, the superlative lover, was the worst (the most terrible) president in the history of this nation. He was also the most small-minded, the pettiest, and the least ethical man to ever hold the highest office in the land. He was the biggest embarrassment. He was impeached the most. He lied the most. He will be remembered as the most everything, except the best. For four years we suffered, worried, screamed in anger at the TV (“hoax” “hydroxychloroquine” “bleach” and on and on), and rolled our eyes at his ineptness, his tweets, his boorish ignorance. Finally he is gone because we loudly voted him out. We did it. We beat him. He lost.

On his way out he intentionally and directly incited violence directed at our lawmakers while they were formally carrying out the final stroke on his demise. In the crosshairs of that violence incited by Donald, people died. Watching the recap video today of January 6, 2021, and then listening to Donald’s laughable lawyers, we all relived the horror of that day and now realize no one with a grain of intelligence will stand beside Donald anymore–they cannot do so and be able to look their children in the eyes. Upon the final vote in this trial, any senators who stand with him are publicly siding with violent terrorists against our country. There will be no place to hide. And they will be voted out.

Donald should be impeached a third time for his horrendous mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed almost half a million Americans. The man was an ugly stain on America and our only hope to wash away the stench of him is to convict and put this behind us.

Good news: this week the COVID numbers dropped again, down to about the levels we saw back in late October 2020, right around when Donald lost his first debate with President Biden. Remember those weeks? when Donald held a super spreader event in the Rose Garden, and tested positive? Ahh, the stench lingers.

It seems many who lost someone to the pandemic can now add a lucky person they know who has been vaccinated. A nurse. A mom. A teacher (well, not in my state, but in others). Plans for the next school year are underway and optimistic for a full in-person return to instruction with full classrooms of students. With that goal in mind, we better power through these vaccinations, double-mask, stop the spread of the mutation, and get this pandemic under control. We don’t have a great track record so I’ll be surprised (but pleased) if you all can pull this off.

In the meantime, let’s convict Donald. That’ll give us all a jolt, a pleasant surprise, and maybe remind us to focus on of the fragility of our country and the strength of our people.