11/24/2014

"We have 700 customers"

I have a love-hate relationship with our lawn care company.

On the one hand, I love that they mow the lawn for us so that I don't have to 1) hear the husband gripe about having to do it, 2) have him spend four hours every Saturday during the season doing so (our yard isn't big, but it's got an insane hill and it just seems to take forever if you want to do it safely) and 3) Have him be miserable the rest of the day and into the next because, oh yeah, he's really allergic to grass.

On the other hand, they complain. A lot.

See, having children, we have things like toys out in the back yard. Go figure. Now, I make sure that the small stuff is up and on the patio the night before they're scheduled to come. But we have a jungle gym thing that really isn't tough to move if you're a man but is a bit of a pain for me to get out the way. I try to remember to have hubby move it, but if that doesn't happen, it should be easy enough for them to do it as they mow. And they will. But they gripe. And we get a nasty note at the bottom of our invoice.

And then the leaves start to fall. Most of the time, the way we're situated, the wind blows the leaves down into the gully at the bottom of our property. So there aren't that many. And really, we're fine if they want to just mow over them (they mulch mow) and call it a day. But they have a moral objection to doing that. I think this is less because they're concerned about our yard and more because they want to sell us leaf removal at $35/hour. After the fist time we got a note on our door saying "No mow. Rake leaves." (Really does it take so much longer to form non-declarative sentences that feel polite when your customer reads them? Apparently, yes. And it's not an ESL issue, these are actual English-speaking Americans.) I gave the office a call. We went round and round and finally agreed that we'd be sure to have all but whatever happened to fall between Sunday night and Monday (our scheduled day) handled. And so it was okay for a bit...until it rained two weeks ago. On a Monday.

We'd picked up the leaves. We were ready. But it was raining. So fine, you can't mow in the rain. I get that! But what would be good customer service, I think, is to send an email (I'm great with email!) or a phone call and say, "Hey, Monday customer, we'll be working you in and plan to be there on Wednesday." or whatever day you plan to hit us. That way, hey, we can get the leaves that the rain knocked down taken care of.

But no such communication happened. And I came home from being out with the boys on Wednesday to another "No mow. Rake leaves" note. And then...nothing. Two weeks of nothing. Two weeks of getting the lawn ready for Monday and then...nothing. On Friday, hubby caved and authorized leaf clean up to try and avoid my annoyance and frustration. (Not with him, but with the lawn in general.)

Fast-forward to today, the Monday after authorizing leaf removal when all should, once more, be right with the world so that I can stop having to deal with these people. No show. Huh? So I called up and, it turns out, that random Wednesday when they came out was supposed to be our last mow. (Nice to know...nicer to know THEN.) They weren't planning to return. So I mentioned how it would've been nice to know that -- especially since they didn't do what we needed done on the day they randomly showed up that wasn't our day so we weren't ready for them and he says to me, "Ma'am, we have 700 customers." Which was his justification for why it's impossible to notify people of when they're being rescheduled.

So fine...I get that, sort of (in today's technological age, I see no reason why they can't very easily email everyone. It takes hardly any time to make a group email alias and even less to send out a mass email when it's raining, but whatever.) So I ask when they can come, since we were expecting them today, and after some off-speaker conversation he comes back with sometime next week or the week after.

Well...we'll be putting our Christmas decorations out on Friday. So if they can't make it before then, I guess our yard will just be long through the winter. The few leaves that are there, I can rake myself before the nativity goes up. And as for their 700 customers...well, it might just be 699 next year.

11/23/2014

The weekends always seem busier than the weeks.

I guess maybe this is a normal thing when one has offspring, I don't know. All I know is that by Sunday night, I'm more tired than I am on Friday night and I'm already looking forward to the week so I can, hopefully, do a little recovering.

Total switch from when I worked for the man.

11/20/2014

Oh the Naivete!

So apparently there's one arm of the Sleepy family that leans to the left. Like really, really far to the left. This became semi-apparent in 2008 and only continues to get more and more ridiculous. I'd like to say that they're into social justice and have good hearts but...really I think they just represent the idiocy of people who don't bother to think beyond lunch tomorrow.

Regardless, one of the cousins posted today a link to some former military person's petition for "executive action" on immigration because he's part of a family with "mixed status" and apparently one of the few who have actually managed to have a family member detained for being in the country illegally. And so he's asking for the president to circumvent 200 years of the rule of law and instead govern by fiat. Of course, Obama's no stranger to doing that, so I suppose it's not hugely unreasonable to want to ask him to do it again. And given his propensity for doing just that, I suspect it'll happen regardless of what sane minds would want.

But what had me shaking my head was the supposed rationale for this additional clemency for those poor people who find themselves running afoul of the law because they chose to stay in a country after their permission to do so ended. Apparently, letting these people stay and become citizens will somehow give us billions of dollars of income tax revenue in just one year.

Now, I ask you...do people honestly believe that a group of people who have no problem flagrantly violating the law by staying in a country illegally and dishonestly (and pretty it up with whatever term you want, if you are in a country after your allotted visiting/school/work time has ended, you are there ILLEGALLY and not leaving is DISHONEST) -- but those people who have no problem being scoff laws as far as residency, when given clemency and a chance to stay are suddenly going to be honest, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens?

Riiiiight. That's what's going to happen.

11/19/2014

Oh, Barbie.

So apparently there was a book about Barbie being a computer engineer published in 2010 that ended up being the topic de jour in my Facebook feed today. Why did it take four years to be noticed? Well, it's a Barbie book so I'm guessing that it's not generally being read by hundreds of thousands of people. Mattel has apologized.

I was considering putting my own two cents in about how that book should look, but in actuality, there's a site where you can improve the book yourself. And this is one delightful use of said site. So really, my work here is done.

I will go ahead and add my voice to the many others out there, however, who have to wonder how Mattel--even in 2010--managed to allow such a thing to be published. It's hard enough for women in the sciences (and in computer science in particular.) Do we really need Barbie playing into the stereotypes? I mean, sure, it's nice that she's *trying* to design a computer game, but do we even have to go so far as to assume that games designed by girls have cute, fluffy robot puppies in them? I mean, really. If you look at the game design world and the kick-ass women who work in that field, they're not all about the fluffy robot puppies. (I suppose it's nice that it wasn't a heavily endowed, bikini-clad robot puppy, but perhaps that's a post for another day. Because as far as sexism goes, the game industry has a way to come themselves if they want to move out of the era of misogyny.)

But more to the point, in my mind, I continue to wonder why we look to things (things! As in TOYS!) like Barbie to be role models for our children. Can they help teach good manners and morals. Sure. Should they be role models? No. Especially when there are so many fabulous REAL role models that you can use if you want to take the time to talk to your kids and encourage them to read outside the sphere of this week's hot toy.

So, without further ado, a brief list of suggestions for role models to investigate if you're looking to encourage your daughter in the sciences. (And yes, I'm being lazy and linking to Wikipedia, but you can find better, deeper resources from there and it's a handy place to get an idea bout whether or not you care to explore further.)

The point is...we don't need Barbie if we're looking for inspiring influences for women in science. They're already out there, working, innovating, and combating the ridiculous stereotype that Barbie perpetuates in the first place.

The next Barbie book I hope they publish? Barbie Gets Medically Necessary Breast Reduction Surgery to Save Her Back.

11/18/2014

Some days...

It really just doesn't feel worth it to have gotten out of bed in the morning.

Grump. Grump. Grump.

That is all.

11/17/2014

Mawwiage is what bwings us togevver today

This weekend, the hubs and I took off to the wedding of a friend. Seeing as how we both moved up a notch in the old age-bracket tic boxes this past year, the days of wedding attendance have been rather long gone. It's been at least five years and that was one of hubby's younger cousins and doesn't count, really. (Family weddings are a different thing than friend weddings. I can't explain it, it's just the way it is.)

Regardless, having been on the inside of a few conversations about the outlandish amount of money our friend and his fiance were spending on this shindig, I have to say now on the other side of the event that either saner heads prevailed and they really scaled back from what they said they were spending or I have no idea where the money went.

Last I heard, the general bill was going to be in the area of $60K (Plus or minus a bit here or there.) I'll wait until you can breathe again, cause if you're like us, you choked and nearly died when you read that. But other than the sit-down dinner with filet as an option, I don't know where it went. There were essentially zero flowers at the church. The bouquets were long stemmed roses tied with a 2" ribbon that I hope they made themselves because really...why would you pay a florist what a florist charges to do something so simple it's not even worth a Pinterest pin? There were a few centerpieces at the reception but nothing to write home about. And so it goes.

What really struck me about this thing though wasn't the quandary of the money, it was the fact that ceremony itself was roughly 20 minutes long. And I'm being kind and rounding up. And then there was a two hour break before the cocktail hour at the reception venue. That went on for an hour (seriously, they were militant about it being a cocktail HOUR despite the fact that everyone, bride and groom included, was there at the start of the thing). Then dinner for two hours (and why, WHY would you do your first dance before feeding your guests? Just feed us already, then do your dancing.) And at that point, we'd been away from home for close to six hours so we called it and left. Before the cake. I have no idea what time they finally got around to the cake.

Honestly, if you're planning on making your wedding an event that lasts more than maybe 3 hours, you need to state that pretty clearly on your invitation so people can make informed choices about attending. Especially when you make it a no kids event. (I don't get the no kids thing, I really don't. To me, weddings are about family, so kids should absolutely be there. Throw in the fact that you just asked someone to shell out $120 to a babysitter because you decided you needed to stretch your event out for a full freaking day and, well, I feel a lot less bad about the fact that I didn't shop off your million dollar registry.)

So congrats to my friend, but next time I seriously may just send a card and be done with it. Cause wow.

11/14/2014

Volunteerism

I run a program for kids at our church. It's a program we had when I was growing up. I love it -- it's near and dear to my heart -- and I'm thrilled that it's available for my kids to participate in. However, as with so many things at church, it's run by volunteers (heck, I'm a volunteer) and it seems like the majority of the world doesn't actually subscribe to the same ideas behind volunteering that I do.

So I bring to you, my list of Volunteering Dos and Don'ts

Do:

  • Look at the list of places you're needed and find one that fits with what you enjoy doing and have time for. 
  • Show up five minutes early. This, for volunteers, really is "on time."
  • Ask how you can help, even if it's outside of your "job description"
  • Commit. Understand the length of your volunteer position, what's required, and what breaks are available. Volunteers who only come when they "can" (i.e. feel like it) are less helpful than empty positions.
  • Be dependable. (See above)
  • Enjoy yourself. If you're having fun, that will shine through in your work. See the first bullet for step 1 in making this happen.
Don't:
  • Grumble about how you could have done it better. There are most likely leadership positions available, if you want one, step up!
  • Grumble when the leader of the activity asks how things are going in your area. Just like with your job, most things have some kind of chain of command structure. I promise you, the leader isn't trying to micromanage or take over, they just need to know what's going on since the buck stops with them.
  • Be late.
  • Fail to notify your immediate supervisor and the person overall in charge if you aren't able to make it. Sooner is always better than later.
  • Feel entitled. At the end of the day, everyone is volunteering for the same purpose. Keep that purpose in mind as you work -- most volunteer opportunities embody the idea that it's not about you.