Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Look out, I'm pissed!

What makes people so fucking annoying?

I just finished dealing with this pain-in-the-ass grandmother/granddaughter team. I should have known they would get on my last gay nerve when I saw them walking up to the front door with a framed picture, a few tube rolls, and a baby in their arms.

The first order of business was to have the broken glass in the picture replaced. "How much will it cost?" the younger of the two women asked. So I measured it up, entered everything into the computer and gave them the price. Around $30 to open the frame, pull everything out, clean off the mat, supply and install the new glass, re-assemble the piece and re-wire it. The younger woman relays the information to her grandmother in Finnish. Grandma is just visiting and doesn't speak much English. No problem.

Grandma gasps and carries on like I just shot her dog. Granddaughter tells me that her grandmother thinks that's expensive. Ya, I gathered that.

They proceeded to remove a few other pieces from the tubes and put them on the table.
As I'm about to set to work picking components for the next piece, the granddaughter handed the baby off to Grandma and announced that she's going back down the street to bring the car up. Apparently she parked about a block away in a restaurant's lot and they walked over. The woman at the restaurant complained to her, but they just continued walking to my shop. Nerve. It's not like I don't have a ton of parking here. Oh well. I was secretly hoping that the lady at the restaurant had it towed, but no such luck.

As you can figure out, I was left here with a woman who doesn't speak English who is holding her crying great-grandchild. Not much I could do until the woman got back. She finally arrived with her car about 10 minutes later and came back in the shop.

I can't possibly convey how much the two of them nattered on in Finnish while I tried to ask questions pertaining to the framing of their pieces. The process took at least twice as long as it should have, and every time I figured out the pricing, gasping and tongue-clucking ensued.

Our labour fees are set up in the computer, but when people are total pricks, we can adjust it. Sort of a "prick fee". Then we can "let them get their way" with a "discount". Basically, this means that they get it for regular price. The irony in all of this is that we generally give a discount to people, but don't go on saying how you should be entitled to it or you don't get it! Well, you think you do, and I guess that's what really matters.

Like I said, they bitched and moaned in two languages over the prices (ranging from $150 to $225 per piece) complaining that it's twice the price that it is back in Finland. As I gave the granddaughter the prices of each one, I would tell her the "regular price" and the price after the "discount", pre-tax.

"You don't need to tell me all that, just give me the total with the taxes in." I told her that I was giving her the before and after price to show her the difference in price with the "discount".
Sure enough, the next piece I worked out I gave her the total price with taxes. "Is that with the discount?" she asked. Sheesh. You can't win.

"That's still so expensive. Can't you do any better on the price?"
"You know," I replied, "generally we tend to give discounts to our regular customers for their loyalty, not brand new ones who come in off the street."
"But do you get people bringing in this many pieces at once?" (They had 5 including the one that was just having the glass replaced)
"Actually, this week, I had one client bring in 11, another brought in 10, another brought in 18, and another is bringing in 34 certificates to be framed. So ya, we do get a lot of people bringing us much larger orders."

She offered a sheepish "Thank you" for the discount. Here's the kicker. I asked them when they needed to have them ready. "Well, my grandmother goes back to Finland Friday next week."

Currently we're on a two week turnaround. So this requires rushing in the products, hoping nothing is on back-order, and hoping that all of the frames come in without any flaws and need to be replaced.

Let's go over this. New customers. Constant bitching about the prices. Expecting a discount. Rush order. After they left, I thought it all through. What I should have done was tell them to take their stuff elsewhere. We're quite busy right now. I'm not desperate for the work. I didn't care much for the sense of entitlement or the insults about our pricing, and I highly doubt that I'll ever see them back here after they pick up these pieces.

Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet. I'm glad I don't take this stuff too personally. Alright, maybe I do, but at least I've got this blog so I can let it all out!

Friday, April 21, 2006


4Gig just ain't enough!

I bought my iPod almost four weeks ago. "Norbert", the kid that works for me (kid? sheesh, he's going to be 20 next week!) had one of the iPod Nano 2Gigs which holds about 500 songs. I went for the 4Gig Nano because I do have a fairly extensive CD collection, so I figured that 1000 songs is probably going to be more than I need.

Over the past few weeks, I have been making my way through my collection, picking and choosing one or two songs here, whole CDs there. I've just entered the "M"'s (yes, I keep them in alphabetical order, so what!?) and the iPod is full. I've been weighing my options. I could just be much more selective about what I put on it, but moderation and sacrifice really aren't my style. I could see if I can sell it and buy a larger model, but that would take effort, and then if the purchaser has a problem with thanks. I don't even sell my old cars when I buy new ones. I always trade them in. I'd probably make more by selling it myself, but who needs the grief? Maybe I'll try eBay.

Norbert said "return it". Now I don't know about the rest of you, but to my way of thinking, some things you just don't return. Opened computer software, toothbrushes, underwear, nose hair trimmers and electronic devices that have parts that you stick in your ears.

I said "fine, I'll give them a call and see if I can return it."
"You're just saying that to shut me up, aren't you? My girlfriend does that to me. I'm used to it."
Well, quite frankly, that was my intention, but I decided to actually call the big box empire where I bought it to prove him wrong. I explained to the clerk on the phone that I bought it thinking it would suffice, but I really needed a unit with more memory.
"No problem, sir. If it's within 30 days you can return it."

I was pleasantly surprised. Of course, now I feel like a total asshat. I'll be bringing back this thing that they either have to try to sell or send back. I have no idea what they do. And what about the ear buds? How gross. Maybe I can keep the ones I had and put the new ones in the returned one. I guess I'll see what happens there. I also have the hard case I bought to protect it and it won't fit on the new one. I don't have the package for that. I might have to keep it. Maybe I'll give it to Norbert if he wants it.

I spent a couple of hours trying to find out how to "unregister" this unit. I know that when I brought it home and set it up I had to enter this seemingly unending series of numbers and letters that made up the serial number. I manged to restore the factory settings and remove all of the music that I had put on there, but did that remove my name from the serial number? Nobody seems to have an answer to that one. What happens if someone else tries to register it, but they get told that it's already registered to some Freak Magnet out there? I'll have to ask when I take it back tonight.

Even though I'll be dropping another 200 bucks or more, I feel like such an inconvenience to them. How do people who constantly return stuff deal with this?

Last night, my business partner told me about a woman he was standing behind in line at a local Canadian Tire store. She was trying to return something (not sure what it was) and began making a scene when the clerk refused.
"I have the receipt!" the woman shouted at her.
"Ma'am, you bought this at IKEA" the clerk returned.
"Your policy says that I can return any item with a receipt!"
"If the item was purchased at one of our stores."
"It doesn't say that! I want my money back!"

My business partner, always the diplomat, got in the woman's face and told her to get her fat ass in her car and drive to IKEA where she bought whatever piece of shit it was and get her money back from the people she gave her money to in the first place.
Who lets these people out without their meds?

I really hope this all goes off without a hitch. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


So many knobs, so few bullets

I just stepped in from the chilly, damp air outside of the store where I spent a few minutes chatting with the girl from the office next door. Real swift while I'm still trying to shake this cold I've had for the past few weeks, I know. She was out for a smoke break, and I just popped out to say hello and to ask if it's still illegal to kill people.
"Only if you get caught" was her reply.
"Why? Who do you want to kill?"
"Oh, just a customer. No big deal."
"I feel your pain" she said.

My ordeal began a few weeks back when "Mr. & Mrs. Jones" came in with a wedding photo of their son and daughter-in-law. Not a bad picture, but the photographer saw fit to cut off part of the bride's train. I pointed that out to them when they brought it in. They didn't seem too concerned with it.

After agonizing over mat colours and a frame for well over an hour, we finally had everything settled. The funny thing is that they brought in a framed photo that we had done years ago of their other son's wedding and they wanted to match it. GAK! I hate that. The colour tones in the new picture are completely different, and the old frame is discontinued and no longer available. Mercifully, they relented and permitted colours that actually suited the new picture. Thank God!

So they left the photo, and we matted and framed it, and it looked quite nice. When they came back in to pick it up a few days ago, they loved it.
"Oh, I'm so glad we went with the green mat instead of the blue. It really suits it." Mrs. Jones said, her husband gushing his admiration as well.
Another satisfied customer.

Yesterday, Mr. Jones came in with the picture.
"We're really not happy with the picture," he said. "We don't like how the dress is cut off on the side."
"Oh, you fucking idiot!" I thought.
"You recall that the dress is actually cut off on the photo, though, right?" I asked.
"Well, I'm sure more of it can be shown than we see here. We'd like you to move the mat over a bit."
"Let me pull it apart right now and I'll show you what we've got to work with."

I stepped into the work area and tore off the backing, removed the staples and took the matted picture from the frame. I showed Mr. Jones that I had the mat pretty much as far over as I could without having the edge of the picture pop up through the opening. There was MAYBE 1/16 of an inch it could be shifted over. 1/8 of an inch and the picture popped through. Considering the picture is about 16 x 20, this is hardly noticable to the naked eye.

"Do what you can with it. We'll be in to pick it up Saturday." he said.

Since I had all the pieces for that picture strewn all over my work table, I decided I would complete it and be done with it. So I shifted the picture that 1/16 of an inch, cleaned the glass again, installed the picture, re-backed it, re-wired it, and wrapped it. One bit of grief done. I thought.

This morning I arrived at work, unlocked the store, disarmed the alarm, turned on the lights and saw the phone flashing to indicate a new message. The message was from Mr. Jones.
"My wife and I have discussed it, and we've decided to leave the picture as it was because we don't want our son and daughter-in-law shifted too far off to the side."
Translation: "Oh ya, we're dumbasses. Instead of asking for the impossible, but not wanting to admit our error, we've come up with some other lame reason for leaving it the way you did it originally. Boy do we feel stupid!"

You guessed it. It's staying exactly as it is right now. There is no way in hell that anyone can detect that 1/16 of an inch on a picture that size. Besides, the couple occupy 2/3 of the picture and the train of the dress occupies the other 1/3. They are already off center! The photo was shot that way! I could center the couple, but a good chunk of that dress would have to go.

I tell ya! Some of these people drive me to drink. I just need something stronger than honey lemon tea!

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Gone Too Soon

Spending so many of those all-important "youth" years in the family that was my old work place of many years ago, a strong bond was formed with many of the employees. That is why is came as such a shock to learn that an old co-worker, Sharon, passed away suddenly on Monday at the young age of 56. For the six years or so that I worked at that store, Sharon was my department manager. Considering it was a manager/managee relationship, we really got along more like old friends.

A fond memory I have of our interaction is when on many occasions I would call her "Mom" in front of customers. Considering she was all of 16 years older than me, it really got on her nerves...but in a good way. "Stop calling me that!" she would reply with a laugh. So it came to be that I often referred to her as "Aunt Mum".

Sharon was a woman who didn't have an easy path in life. She was a divorced woman who worked her whole life and made a lot of sacrifices in order to raise her two kids and provide what they needed. I saw her son and daughter grow up through the years that I worked there. I hadn't seen them in about 16 years since I left the store. They are so grown up now. They are nearly the same age as their mother was when I started working with her. Those kids were her pride and joy, and I'm sure she was the typical doting grandmother with her son's two boys. When I saw her son at the funeral home, I told him that he and his sister meant the world to his mother. I told him that she was always talking to people about her kids. He laughed. "Ya, like 'what have they done now?'" He and his sister both have their mother's sense of humour. That's probably one of the greatest gifts that she gave them. There was so much laughter in their house, despite the usual trials and struggles of raising a family.

Those of us who knew Sharon can't forget her distinctive laugh. I remember so many times the old gang from work got together after work for a drink, or celebrating at one of our countless dances. It was inevitable that Sharon would get into a laughing fit, usually fueled by another co-worker who's laugh was just as infectious. I really miss that sound. On one occasion, I was in the company of Sharon, her daughter and her sister. They ALL had that same laugh. It was almost frightening.

Last night I met up at a local restaurant/bar with a few friends before going to the funeral home. We celebrated Sharon with a few drinks and a lot of laughs. It was nice to see so many old familiar faces at the visitation last night. There are, as often happens in the retail business, a lot of new faces as well. But still, they are all people who worked alongside Sharon. They all have their own memories. I just can't help but think that mine are just a little bit better.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Some days I hate the phone

The telephone is a great invention. I mean really, where would we be without it? There are times, however, when you want to pull a Russel Crowe or Naomi Campbell and throw the damned thing. These past few days gave me enough reason to have that urge.

The first time was late Saturday night. The Squeeze and I are sound alseep in bed when the phone rings. I looked at the clock. It was 3:11 (actually 4:11 because we didn't set the clocks ahead before we went to bed). The Squeeze woke with a start and grabbed the phone on his side of the bed. It was a wrong number. The Squeeze said to the woman, "Do you have any idea what time it is?!". He said there was silence on the other end for a few seconds, then she said, "um...ya. sorry" and then she hung up. Seriously, what kind of moron calls someone at 4:11AM without being absolutely positive that they have the right number?

Needless to say, I was wide awake after that, and I tossed and turned for a few hours trying to get any sleep I might be so lucky to acquire, which wasn't much. Naturally, all day Sunday I felt like shit because I didn't get enough sleep. I could have easily fallen asleep around noon for a bit, but we had company, and that would just be wrong.

Her name and number are still on our caller list...I'm just waiting to be in a real prick mood and I'll call her at all hours of the night...or day. Maybe she works shifts.

Weezie called me Monday morning to see if I wanted to go to lunch with her and Zoey. It's my day off, so why not? We had a really good time, Zoey was being so good. Such a cute little thing. No screaming or crying. She just sat there in her highchair nibbling her crackers/cookies/french fries. Only a couple of things hit the floor. Not bad at all! Three months to go before the new baby comes along. Eek! When will I tell the folks!?

When I returned home after running some errands following lunch, The Squeeze's brother was puttering around in the kitchen. He told me that his ex-girlfriend, Psycho-chick came by the house to drop off something she borrowed from The Squeeze ages ago. Apparently she wanted to talk things over with BIL. He didn't elaborate and I didn't ask. I merely rolled my eyes as I'm apt to do whenever somebody mentions Psycho-chick. I think she's still got the funky thigh-sweats for BIL, even though she's the one who went insane on him and told him he could go and marry this other female friend he was talking to. Just a bit unstable.

BIL told me last week that Psycho-chick had left a couple of voicemail messages where she was crying and saying how she hopes he's able to get over her and move on with his life. News flash: HE HAS!

Oh yes....I was talking about the phone. Well, this morning at about 9:25 as I was getting ready for work, the phone rang. Call display said "Private Name, Private Number". It was HER! It rang until the voicemail picked up, and then she hung up and called again. She did this all the time when she and BIL were dating. She rarely left a message. She would just call and call and call until someone answered. She might take a break for 5 or 10 minutes, but she would keep on calling. I never answer the phone when I see that on the display because I can't stand the woman. It was nothing for her to call half a dozen times or more within 5 minutes. This morning she called 3 times before BIL finally decided to pick up the extension downstairs. I hope to God that he's not entertaining the idea of getting back with her. We'll have to do an intervention.

Another reason I hate the phone is because it has been the vessel of so much bad news. Usually it's my one brother's wife who seems to call us every time someone dies. She's like the messenger of death. She called when my other brother died, when my uncle died...and when other distant relatives have passed on. I dread the sound of her voice on the other end because it normally means someone's dead.

Last night I got a call from an old friend of mine who I really don't hear from anymore. She called to tell me that someone I used to work with died that day. Too freaking much. So I've been on the phone calling other friends we all used to work with back then to let them know the news.

The woman who died was a real laugh. I've been thinking of her a bit lately. I remember all the times the gang went out after work, and the laughs we had. And this woman had a laugh! When she got into an uncontrolled laughing fit over something, tears poured from her eyes. We got such a kick out of making her do that. Her daughter was the same way. It was really something to get the two of them going. We laughed at the way they were laughing so hard, and they, in turn, laughed about the way one of us laughed, and it would go on for hours.

How wonderful to leave a legacy of laughter and good times. She didn't have an easy life. Her husband left her with two kids to raise on her own. She worked her whole life to provide for her family. She taught her kids to respect others. I was always amazed at how polite and well-mannered they were, and that's back when they were in their late teens. It's been about 15 years or so since those times. The kids are in their mid 30's now. It will be a bitter-sweet reunion to see them at the visitation. I'm sure I'll see a lot of the old gang I haven't seen since then.

It's sad to come to the realization that we get so caught up in our present and planning for the future that we often forget about the past. The past is where those memories were made. I should really make more of an effort to go back and see people from my past who gave me those memories before it's too late. I regret that I didn't see her before she passed away. Oh, the laughs we would have had.

God speed, Sharon.

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