sixtiestosixties

I was something in the 60s but now I'm just sixty something.

Customer Service

Do you see a package here?

I’m so glad big companies did away with their outsourced call centers. You know, the ones where we couldn’t understand what anyone was saying. Things are so much better now that nobody at all is working in customer service. At least the automated voice doesn’t hold it against me when I tell her to bite me.

I ordered a replacement water filter for my refrigerator and after being assured it was in stock I chose to pay extra for a quick delivery. When it hadn’t arrived in two and a half weeks I decided I should call the appliance company back and check on my order. I began this ordeal with an attitude of patience because if I spent time doing this I could put off something I wanted to do even less. There was the usual “push 1”, “push 2”, “your call is important to us” bullshit. If they really thought it was that important they would actually pick up my call. Their real strategy is to make you give up and hang up. When I finally got through to someone she assured me that according to the tracking number my water filter had been delivered. Wrong! I know it never landed on my doorstep. I paid for three-day delivery and was watching for it. I know what time the truck comes down our street. I was home that day at the exact time of said delivery. The appliance company told me that since they had received confirmation of the delivery it was up to me to deal with the delivery service.

Next I called the delivery company’s 800 number whose mechanical voice gives you three options, none of which is to report you didn’t get your package. Neither is there an option for speaking to a real person. They did offer a list of local stores with addresses and store hours. This might have helped if I wanted to send something instead of receive something. Then I discovered if I waited around and pushed “1 for more information” I could get a phone number to a local store. I doubted the locals could help me but I figured they would know who could.

So I called one of the local stores and a real woman actually answered the phone! I asked her, in pressurized speech, before she could hang up or put me on hold, how I was supposed to report that I had never received a package that was recorded as delivered when the number you are supposed to call doesn’t allow for that. I concluded she must get this question frequently because she answered in an equally manic voice that if I were to press “0” four or five times at three-second intervals I would get an operator. Then she immediately hung up before I could thank her. Or ask her anything else. No one calling the 800 number could had uncovered this information simply by listening to the menu. Do they actually want customers?

So again, I call the 800 number for the delivery company but this time I am running out of patience because by now an hour has passed and I am beginning to think of all those things I hate to do that I could have gotten done in that time.

Then I found myself in conversation with a machine.

“Press 1 if you…,” the mechanical voice chirped.

“Bite me. I’m pressing 0,” I replied.

“Press 1 if you… ”

“F*** you. I’m pressing 0.

“Press ‘1’ if you…”

“Ha! You think I’m stupid? I’m pressing 0.

And so the conversation went until at last I got a real person. I explained my problem to the man and was then put on hold until I could to talk to “someone who could help me”. While holding I’m wondering what the first man was paid to do if he couldn’t help. At last the lone customer service worker in this multi-billion dollar shipping company cheerfully explained to me that the appliance company I ordered from was the account holder and they would have to initiate the tracer investigation for claim purposes. I bit my tongue until it bled because she was real and obviously overworked  and my mother taught me not to swear at people. Then I dialed back right where I started from.

In the meantime, there is a bright, blinking, annoying warning indicator on my refrigerator lighting up the kitchen at night. And although I have paid for a replacement part I have no idea when or if I’ll ever get it. Anyone want to place any bets?

Could it be here somewhere?

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Oh Me, Oh My, What a 4th of July!

Does your town do this?

A funny thing happened on the way to the San Diego Big Bay Boom fireworks on the 4th of July. They all went off at once five minutes before the scheduled beginning of the show. The newspapers referred to this as “premature ignition”. I’m not sure how the pyrotechnician feels about this term. Sounds to me like he has a problem and now the whole world knows about it.

Much can go wrong in a day and it can still remain near perfect. Independence Day in Coronado is like that. It’s a day out of a Normal Rockwell painting. Being a Navy town, it’s celebrated with extreme enthusiasm and nothing can really spoil it. The locals decorate more for the 4th than for Christmas and dress proudly (and often outlandishly) in red, white, and blue. Thousands of people cross the bridge to Coronado to participate in the festivities. We invited eight people and a couple of Chihuahuas to add to the fun and moved our cars to the street to reserve parking spaces.

Just for the record, it does rain in California. It rained on our parade. But not enough to dampen the town’s spirit. We still had our bands, horses, canine companions, and lots of military out marching in full regalia. And we had the garbage truck. I’m not sure I get the garbage truck being in the parade but it did have a great big American flag draped across the front. I wondered if it was just trying to get to the other end of town to pick up the dumpsters. You know, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”. Traffic can be a problem here .

Leave the car at home.

I’ve already made plans to make the 4th better next year. I think we should cook dinner instead of lunch so we won’t be in a food coma and miss the afternoon concert. I’ll make more deviled eggs and fewer ribs. I’ll do the “bike around the island” or the fun run or something that doesn’t involve eating and drinking. (Although I suspect some of those bikers had knocked back a few,) And I’m counting on San Diego to get it right with the fireworks.

In the end though, it won’t matter what I do. It will be a great day regardless. It isn’t about the parade, fireworks, or food. It isn’t even about the company. It’s about celebrating the privilege of living in America.

How did you wave your flag?

Sempir fi!

Pearl Harbor survivor and parade official.

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I Love/Hate Costco

Just getting started.

I had to make a Costco run the other day. I couldn’t put it off any longer. We were running out of toilet paper and it is such a good value there that I refuse to buy it anywhere else. Apparently, I’m not alone in this. I just learned that Kirkland Signature toilet paper is Costco’s number one selling item. Makes sense. We all need it and Costco is serious about it. They actually conduct research on it. I’m not privy to what their testing entails but I’m not sure I would want to know anyway.

I didn’t have a long list so I thought it would be a quick in and out. How much can a household of two need at Costco anyway? Two hours and $440 later I got home. You know how it is. When it’s not that crowded you can look around better and buy a lot more stuff that you don’t really need.

My strategy is to get there just as the store is opening. Costco is well stocked but it always runs out of parking places. Somewhere around 3 million people shop at Costco everyday. Some days it looks like all 3 million are cruising my Costco. I make it a point to never, ever go near a holiday weekend. The aisles get gridlocked and the shoppers get hostile. You can get hurt. Once I was hobbling around the store with an orthopedically attired broken foot and some idiot drove their cart right over it.

As it turned out, it was a pretty good day to go even though the food samples were not all that good. I was disappointed about that. I like it when they are dishing out the really yummy crap I wouldn’t dare buy because I would eat the entire massive quantity all by

Even the Navy shops at Costco!

myself. On the plus side of the day, only one person smashed their cart into me. It would have really annoyed me but I reminded myself that I must make allowances for all the extremely important people in the world who are engaged in urgent phone calls. It is not, after all, all about me. This was reinforced to me as I did not receive an apology. At least I had some sturdy shoes on to protect my toes.

The biggest altercations this trip took place in the parking lot. There was a near deadly duel for a parking space which provided some entertainment. It got a little ugly. There were words and gestures traded as the tension mounted but in the end there was neither violence nor dented fenders. I also watched a woman stubbornly block the entire  parking lane and refuse to move. Horns blared all around her as she waited for a couple to load up their stuff and pull out. Then ,when the couple finally finished loading, they locked up their car and went back to the store for a hot dog. We are big on lunch at Costco here in California.

This trip’s haul consisted of a lot of party food and an embarrassing amount of alcohol. Our adult kids will all be in and out of town throughout the summer and I am now well stocked. I was satisfied with a job well done. I even managed to find room to store it all. So what if I have paper towels squirreled away all over the house. If it rains while the grandkids are here we can make a game out of finding them all.

I do love all the stuff I can get at Costco but I’m hoping I won’t have to go back anytime soon. Quite honestly, I’d rather go to the dentist.

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Good Vibrations from the Beach Boys

hatWas I ever excited! I had bought tickets to The Beach Boys’ 50th Anniversary Tour for my husband’s birthday. He played in a band back in his day and the Beach Boys are still one of his all-time favorite groups. Growing up I always wanted to live in California instead of Schenectady so I have always loved them too. We had been looking forward to this for weeks.When the day of the concert finally arrived, I was coming off a really bad virus and he was headed straight for it. Although neither one of us dared to say it out loud, we both knew for a nickel we would have acted like old farts and stayed home. Fortunately, we had a small window of head and stomach stability and were able to rally for the evening.

There are huge chunks of San Diego county I’m not familiar with. Apparently, neither is Google Maps. I have a basic mistrust of internet directions since more than once I’ve been led astray.  My husband, who worships all things technological, is convinced any fault in these matters is solely mine. Let the record state that he printed off the directions to the concert venue. Ha! The google gremlin decided this would be a good time to mess with him for a change and sent us 30 miles in the wrong direction to a Cricket Wireless store instead of the Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre…..Hello!

Not to worry. My husband comes from a family who habitually waited in a parking lot for 30 minutes until Eccobelli’s Italian restaurant opened for dinner. Thanks to this good training we had plenty of time. What we did not have were directions. I pulled out my phone and realized having been preoccupied with puking the day before I had neglected to recharge the battery.  I had very little power left and the phone could “not access” driving directions. All the not so smart phone offered was a map with two little bubbles an undisclosed number of miles apart and a couple of street names. Don’t you wish you could have been riding in the car with us?

We arrived (finally), shook off our aggravation, and pumped ourselves up for some great surfing songs in the warm California sun. Only the sun hadn’t poked through the marine layer all day and it was freezing. And windy. And Cricket is an outdoor stadium. We bought a blanket and some alcohol.

Concerts provide great opportunities for “people watching” which is  one of our favorite activities. We were not disappointed with this part of the show. The Beach Boys unite the generations and we saw everyone from young children ruling their parents, to teens without nearly enough clothes on for the weather, to some really old, craggy California dudes with thinning ponytails. This kept us entertained while we shivered and felt like crap.

Time dragged on and on. It began to feel like we had been waiting forever and I started thinking the whole thing had been a bad idea. The people we were watching ceased to be amusing. The boy next to me was eating something greasy covered in cheese. It looked a lot like my vomit from the day before. I started longing for home and bed.

Then the stage lit up with a pop and excitement swept through the arena. And there they were.  Brian Wilson, the tortured musical genius, who hasn’t played with the Beach Boys in years, Al Jardine whose voice is as clear and strong as ever, and Mike Love who is Southern California personified. We forgot how sick we were feeling. We jumped up to sing and dance which warmed our limbs and the classic harmonies warmed our hearts. It was an amazing concert. The band played all the songs we came to hear.  For an evening, we were one and all, young and carefree. The image of a little surfer girl became the great equalizer.

When I hear songs from my youth, for a moment I am transported back in time. Like the rest of us Boomers, these musicians are not young anymore. But to see them so energized in doing what they love is inspiring. It reminds us that we still have a lot of living and loving left to do…..even on days we feel like crap.

My husband was quite sick by the time we got home. He spent most of the remainder of the weekend in bed. At some point, he managed to drag himself out to give me a hug and thank me for the birthday gift. Then he climbed back into bed, glancing with a nod and a smile to his guitar, which had been sitting in the corner for far too long, gathering dust.

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Speeding Through My Sixties

I am a baby boomer and proud of it!  Maybe we are not the “greatest generation” but we are the generation that is never going to grow old. We know this for a fact because Bob Dylan told us so. We started the youth culture in this country and it is up to us to keep the myth going.  We are having our faces lifted, our knees replaced, and our clogged arteries bypassed.  We were brought up on the  child rearing bible written by  Dr. Spock and we are keeping our faith afloat with the gospel of Dr. Oz. All of this spun wisdom is designed to keep us well, happy, and eternally youthful. I like Dr. Spock. He told our mothers to feed us whenever we cried.  I like Dr.Oz too. He tells us to have more sex. Here are two renowned  doctors who actually encourage us to do things we like. Should any of you  know of a doctor who tells us to cut down on exercise and drink more alcohol please introduce me.

I really do realize  that I can’t live forever. When I finally admitted my inevitable mortality I had  to stop delaying my midlife crisis. I put off midlife until my 60s to assure myself of living to 120.  Anyway, I was too busy in my forties to deal with it.

I had a really hard time coming up with some way to act out. I wanted something I could tell people about without them talking about me behind my back.  I was living in a small southern town and sixty is not nearly old enough to be considered charmingly eccentric.  You can be considered a number of other things so I had to be careful. It couldn’t take too much effort either because I didn’t want it to interfere with my gym time, shopping, or “Dancing With the Stars”.  Still, I was longing for someone to say to me “You did what?”

After some soul-searching I came up with something  hidden deep within me. I like to drive. Fast. This was not something I enjoyed as a young woman. For one thing I was never very brave. While all my college friends were out protesting and getting billy clubbed by the Buffalo police I found some excuse to remain back in my room.  I might have  said I needed to study. Or I might have said I was too hung over. I just know I said something because, really, do you have any idea what downtown Buffalo was like in those days? I think the college students, the drug dealers, and the prostitutes all got rounded up together. Though, come to think of it, they were all the same people. I also tended to drive slowly because I was never sure where I was going.  I still get lost. I drove around for an hour in downtown San Diego the other day looking for the freeway. Don’t you just hate one way streets?  When my children were born I realized I was suddenly a role model. I took the role seriously. I also wanted to avoid a lawsuit from the other parents in the carpool.

Now, it’s just me. And my BMW. Move over Steppenwolf!

Awhile ago I did a lot of  racing up and down the east coast putting out elder care fires. In the heartbreak of it all  I discovered how freeing it was to make a road trip alone. I also discovered how to make good time. I got my first ticket on the way to my father-in-law’s funeral. I don’t think the officer followed my reasoning. But honestly, my poor mother-in-law had Alzheimer’s and needed someone to get to her quickly. Poor Mom, talk about getting lost on a one way street.

Later, I began to make road trips just for fun. One clear sunny day driving through the desert on my way to Phoenix  I was cruising along at 97 singing out loud with Mick and the boys on the radio. I’m really not sure  how long the cop was following me.

Did you know you can do traffic school online now? I did learn a new word.  Velocitation means  speeding without realizing it. Life’s kind of like that too don’t you think?

I know driving fast isn’t much of a midlife rebellion. Nobody even really paid any attention to me. A friend or two told me I should slow down. My husband noted the increase in our car insurance. I’m thinking I should try something better. I’m still not very brave but I don’t live in a small town anymore. Got any ideas?

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