Tuesday, August 29, 2006


You Can't Always Get What You Want

This past week has been a test of my patience with regards to customer service.

Last weekend I was trying to find Thank You cards to send out to friends and family for their gifts for Brynn. I needed to have the cards large enough so I could include a 4"x6" photo which I wanted to send to everyone. Well, apparently those things just don't exist. I finally made my way to a specialty stationery shop and explained my situation to the clerk who offered assistance. She offered some plain pink cards they had in packages of 25 and pink envelopes they had in packs of 20. I figured I would print up something on the computer on these cards since my handwriting would tend to have people believe I am a doctor...or that I ride the short bus. Either way. They had this really cute velum with pink footprints on it. I had an idea. I swapped the pink cards for white so the footprints would show better, I would use the velum on the front of the card, tied on with pink ribbon...oh, this will be cute.

I set up everything on the computer and tried several attempts with some regular paper cut to size rather than waste the good cards. I found a paper punch in the shape of a little butterfly, and I bought a few rolls of pink ribbon. The velum was trimmed, the test prints were perfect, it was time to open the pack of cards. Here's the first thing that pissed me off. They weren't cards like I was expecting. Not a piece of cardstock folded in half, but rather just one half of what I was expecting. Like a recipe card. I was not amused, especially since I was trying to print one for Weezie to give to her co-workers with a picture, and I had a chiropractor appointment I was growing late for.

I called that little stationery shop to explain how they screwed me for this project now that I had the velum trimmed to size. Of course, they didn't have anything the right size, and weren't apologetic for selling me the wrong stuff in the first place. I told them when I bought them that I wanted to put a photo inside the card. What were they thinking?

Luckily I remembered that I had a big pack of assorted colours of cardstock that I bought a couple of years back that I never used. Luckily I knew where it was, which is a miracle unto itself considering we're not even 1/10th unpacked. I found an X-acto knife and I had to use a wide drywall mud spreader for a straight edge to trim the stock. I ran it through the printer, punched the holes, cut off the ribbon and ran out the door to my appointment. When I got to Weezie's she was quite happy with it, and I think it does look quite cute. If I do say so myself. I have since cut all of the stock and will have to print them all out in the next day or so and get them in the mail.

The second piss-off is the closet doors we special ordered. We got a call over a week ago that they were ready. We went to pick them up and I noticed a big bend in the metal at one end of one of a panel. We left it behind and were told they would order a replacement. When we got a call at the end of the week to say we can pick up the doors, I was quite happy. We went back and discovered that they didn't order new doors, they just bent that one back into shape. It didn't look bad, but if it doesn't work properly, there will be hell to pay.

The third was with the local pet store. I mentioned that my old betta died, so I bought a new one Friday night. He looks pretty neat. His fins are more of a spiney-looking thing as opposed to the flowing fins of my old pal. I tried to feed him a couple of the little betta pellets my old guy used to inhale, and he just spit them out. I figured maybe he just wasn't hungry (though I've never met a betta with that problem). I tried again Saturday morning before work. Same thing. I called the pet store to ask what they have been feeding them because he wouldn't eat the pellets, and they told me they feed them frozen blood worms (sounds gross, doesn't it?). I asked if they sell them there because I don't recall seeing a freezer at that shop, but he assured me that they did. I had The Squeeze pick up a pack for me on his way back from work. He came in with a big brick of frozen brine shrimp. What the hell? I've already got a small pack of them in the freezer.

The Squeeze told the guy at the pet store about the betta problem and the guys said he remembered someone called about it that morning. He looked in the freezer, but they were out of the blood worms. He told The Squeeze that the fish should eat the brine shrimp though, so he bought it. I tried some of the brine shrimp I already had, and again he wanted nothing to do with it. So back I went to return the new pack, and I had to head to the other end of the city to buy the right stuff.

Why, oh why, is it so hard to get things right the first time? Why did the card clerk give me something that wouldn't work for the purpose I explained? Why did the door guy tell me he would order new doors and just bend the old one back? Why did the pet guy sell me something that the fish at their store wasn't being fed? It's so hard to get good help. I'm sure it's all just a part of this conspiracy to drive me mad.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Another One Bites The Dust

Last night I gave my cute litte Betta the royal flush.

Since the move, all of the little fish have been doing great. Even through all of the scooping, bagging, moving and changing over to a new municipality's water (different pH, chlorine, etc.), everyone seemed to be fine.

So what happened? Who knows? Two days ago I noticed the Betta spending more time at the bottom of the tank which was a bit strange for him. However, he still managed to swim up to the top, wagging his flowing tail, to greet me whenever I walked into the room. Yesterday I walked in to find his little body stuck to the intake grill of the filter. The suction isn't too strong, so I knew he was very weak to not be able to avoid being sucked against it. I turned off the filter and he swam off and then drifted to the bottom of the tank again. Being very pressed for time I scooped a few pails of water, and replaced them with some fresh de-chlorinated water hoping that might help matters if the ammonia level was high. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to do a full test of the water, so I was only guessing what the cause was. I kept my fingers crossed and headed out to work.

When I got home last night I found him dead at the bottom of the tank. So scoop and flush I did. I'm a bit bummed out about it. I'll miss the way he would always excitedly swim to the surface when I came near (ya, I know, it was only for the food....but maybe not). Tonight I'm going home to test the water, and if all is well, I'm off to the pet store to spend $3.99 and pick up another new buddy.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


I snapped

Confrontation scares me. Just moments ago I saw a group of teens walking past my store and one of them threw down his food container from the nearby fast food joint on the lawn. My first instinct was to go outside and tell the little shit to pick up the garbage he dropped. But since he was with a group of friends, I imagine he would just further try to prove himself to be a big man and tell me to fuck off. And I don't need to get into all the grief with asshole teenagers vandalizing my business, so I let it go. The funny thing is that my body was going through some severe shakes as my adrenaline was pumping, and it reminded me of something that took place during the move.

As I have mentioned in past posts, The Squeeze's brother (aka the brother-in-law, or BIL) had been dating a psychopath for a while last year. She had and continues to have some issues. They split up back in November after she became jealous of his friendship with an older lady he has known for years. She had a major freak-out in front of a number of people at one of their church functions and told him he can go and marry this other woman because she's through with him. Whatever. Of course the usual "that's the last you'll hear from me" shit followed. If only we were all so lucky. Her incessant phone calls continued. She kept trying to tell BIL that he needs to get help with his problems. Hello, Kettle? It's Pot. You're black. She seems to think he's bi-polar or some such thing, when in fact, she's just a fucking lunatic.

Well, a few months back, BIL met someone else at some sort of convention, and he has been in steady contact with this new woman. Good for him. Bad for psycho. She still seems to have some delusion that they are getting back together. As I said, the phone calls continued. I even ordered call privacy from my phone company so she can't use the old "private name, private number" trick. We continued to get calls from her home, her work and her new cell. BIL gave us the numbers, so The Squeeze and I steered clear of answering any calls from those numbers. BIL did continue to talk with the psycho, which really wasn't doing her any favours in the long run, but that's his decision to make.

BIL had decided that since The Squeeze and I were moving, that he would start a new chapter in his life and move out of province to where this new gal of his lives. When the psycho heard of that she started to get pretty desperate. The calls became more frequent, she even came by the house a few times. It was getting ridiculous. As his final days in this area were drawing to a close things really became unbearable. She would give him the old sob story. "You'll move across the country for this woman. You'd never do that for me." Sheesh. No, he wouldn't. But he would move across the country to get away from you, so you do the math.

The night before he left, she called the house at 11:30 at night. BIG faux pas at our house. The next morning she called at 9:00 and left a message. "Hi BIL, I hope I'm not waking you up. I know you were up late packing up, but I just had a thought. Remember that laundry bag I bought you? Well, I figured since you're moving, you won't have room for it, so I'd like to have it back. OK, call me when you get up."

I KID YOU NOT! What a lame-ass excuse to call and talk to him again. I want my laundry bag back? Give me a fucking break!

After BIL woke up, I told him of the message. A few minutes later she called again. An hour later, another call. Finally, BIL left to pick up his kids (they were visiting family together first). The psycho called again. And again. The Squeeze was getting ready to pick up the phone and tell her he wasn't here so she would stop calling, but it stopped ringing before he picked up.

Now, bear in mind that we were packing and lugging a lot of our belongings out to the truck, and I was busily wrapping artwork to be transported. The stress levels were already high with the ongoing move, and her constant calls were not helping.

Then it happened.

She called again.

I have had it.

I picked up the phone.

"How many times do you have to call here in one morning?"

-"Hi BIL? Oh...Dave. Hi, is BIL home?"

"What the fuck is wrong with you? Why are you constantly calling here. You are pissing us all off and driving us crazy with your fucking calling every hour."

-"No....listen, I-"

"No, shut the fuck up!"

-"But I just-"

"Shut the fuck up and listen to me! You guys broke up almost a year ago and you're still hanging on. He doesn't want anything to do with you. You are fucking nuts. You're obsessed with him. Can you not take a hint?"

-"I just want-"

"Shut the fuck up! If you call here again I am calling the police and putting a restraining order on you. Do you understand?"

-"Listen, I just-"





"That's it! The calls are over. You will not call us or come near us again."

-"Is he gone already?"

"What does it matter to you? If he wanted you to know, he would have told you the details. You are pathetic. You need to get some help."

And that was the last call from the psycho. The funny thing is that The Squeeze was putting things in the truck when she called, so he missed the first part of the call, but when he came in and I was screaming into the phone, I think he kinda knew who it was.

When I got off the phone, I was trembling. My hands were shaking and it felt like my brain was vibrating in my skull. My stomach was queasy and my heart was pounding. That adrenaline is amazing stuff. So after sitting down for a few minutes I was back at the packing. Still a bit trembly, but better. With one violent outburst, I have found serenity.

Thursday, August 17, 2006



I just can’t comprehend how people move out of their old place and into a new one in one day! I simply can not understand it.

We took possession of the new place on the 4th and had to be out by the 15th. That gave us 11 days. We had things packed in advance (not much, but we made an effort), and took a load over in The Squeeze’s pick-up every trip over here.

I’ve heard it said that “Friends help you move; good friends help you move a body”. That may well be true, but I gotta say, a couple of our friends have been incredibly helpful. Personally I would sooner move 30 bodies than move into a new house again, but that’s just me. Props to our great friend FWG for all the help with packing and lugging, not to mention the use of his new banana boat to help transport many of our belongings over here. Thanks also to Dan the man for his help and his power tools to help with jobs such as cutting trim and baseboard at the old place and helping to construct our new closet in the soon-to-be master bedroom.

The strange thing is that we didn’t even move the heavy furniture! We hired a moving company for all of that stuff. Sofas, chairs, wall units, entertainment units, dressers, beds, tables, desks, fridge, treadmill…the list goes on. Three guys with strong backs and good senses of humour did all of that lifting for us and we had a few laughs with them. After lugging the sofa-bed up from the basement (and we all know what a nightmare that can be), one mover said “Please tell me this isn’t going into the basement in the new place.” I looked at him with a straight face and said, “Oh, no, it’s not,” and after waiting a beat for his sigh of relief, I continued, “it’s actually going on the top floor.” Ahhh, good times.

The day all of the furniture was moved in, The Squeeze and I went back to the old house to do some cleaning up. We took his truck and my car full of old cans of paint, solvents, etc. to a hazardous waste depot, and we took two truckloads of garbage to the transfer station. As we were preparing for our second garbage run, we paused to chat with our neighbour who was putting up a new fence between our places. He's always wanted to do it, but didn't want to insult us I suppose. It also seemed like a good time to do it before the new people move in so it doesn't come across as an insult to them either. While we stood there chatting, I casually reached out my right hand to rest it on one of the fenceposts. Immediately I felt a sharp pain shoot through my hand. Damnit! I was stung on the palm by a wasp that was on the post! I ran into the house to run some cold water on it to reduce the sting. Unfortunately, we had already moved the fridge, so we didn't have any ice. A few minutes under the cold water did the trick, but I still put on my pouty face so I could score a nice cold iced cappucino at the local Tim Horton's. You know...to keep the swelling down. ;o)

We did the last bit of packing up loose ends and scrubbed the place within an inch of its life. Next on the list was to touch up some paint, paint the basement floor and put up the baseboards like our agent promised the new owners. Where I come from, when one makes a promise, one follows through on their word. One doesn't make a promise on someone else's behalf and expect them to do it. Suffice to say we were a bit pissed at our agent for telling them we'd have all this work in the basement done. Oh well, such is life. As it turned out, there was a power outage for a brief time, so we were a bit delayed with washing and painting the basement floor, but we got it done finally. The directions on the can said that the paint would be dry within 24-48 hours. We were hoping for 24 so we could get in there and put up the baseboards on Sunday since The Squeeze was back to work on Monday.

When we returned on Sunday to get the last of our things and put up the trim, The Squeeze walked into the basement where he stuck to the floor. Damn! Not dry yet. A couple of footprints. No big deal. To me, anyway. What the hell, we don't live there anymore. The bummer is that it meant that we had to go back Monday night to do the trim, and the new owners wanted to do a walk-through that night. Closing was the next day, so they just wanted to check the place out. I really wasn't looking forward to meeting the new owners, but we did anyway, and quite frankly, they seem like very nice people. I hope they are good to our neighbours. I was really prepared for them to be pricks and I immediately set in my mind that I wouldn't like them.

Earlier in that day I was doing a bit of unpacking here at the condo, and decided to unpack the computer and set it up here in the office. I needed to cut through the zip ties that were holding some wires together, so I found a utility knife with a thin, flimsy blade and tried that. No dice. I then tried a small pair of manicure scissors. Still no luck. I then found my "good scissors" with the orange plastic handles. I tried using them the conventional way but got nowhere. I then put the orange handles in the palm of my hand and squeezed. Of course, being me, the handles broke and the pieces lodged into my palm. Same damned hand the wasp stung me on two days earlier. Now I have a wasp hole under my baby finger, a deep "V" between my index finger and thumb, and another gash right in the middle of my palm. I call that one my "traumata". Not sure where it came from, but that's where it appeared. Naturally, I wasn't able to find the box that held the Band-Aids, so I tried to stop the bleeding with a wad of Kleenex.

I decided to get out of the house and get some errands done. I needed to exchange my cable modem for the computer at the cable company office, then went to Home Depot to pick up a few things. I headed to the local office supply place to get a new paper shredder as ours can barely take one sheet without whining in agony. I also picked up one of those plastic carpet protecter mats for the computer chair. Due to the thickness of the carpet, I needed to buy the thickest mat they had, which wasn't able to be rolled up. That meant I had to carry the huge shredder box (it comes with this huge basket) and the gigantic plastic mat with a thousand little plastic nails jabbing into every part of my body back to the car. I sure the staff there were watching me through the window getting a good laugh. We had been experiencing some problems with the computer speakers I bought there in December, so the clerk I spoke to told me that they have a one year warranty, and all I needed to do was find the receipt and we'd be all set. That's right. Find the needle in the haystack and all will be well.

Tuesday were were scheduled to have our central air unit replaced. "We'll be there between 10 and 11," they said. Since we had no food in the house, I figured I'd duck out around 9:30 and grab a breakfast bagel at Mickey D's down the street and get back in plenty of time. I had my shower, got dressed and ran downstairs to find the workmen blocking my driveway already. They came in and got to work. How long could this take? Around noon they had to head out to get a part they needed. I figured they would be back in a few minutes, so I better not take off. About 90 minutes later they returned. They finally finished their job around 4:00 before telling me that a service tech would be by in a couple of minutes to inspect the job. OK then. I waited for him to arrive at around 4:30 to do his half hour inspection at which time I was finally able to get out for my breakfast!

While I waited for my freedom, I managed to find that receipt for the speakers in one of the "Master Bedroom" boxes. I packed up the speakers, all the wiring, and the control unit and took them and the receipt back to the office place where I purchased them. I told the girl at the service desk that I have speakers that aren't working.
"Do you have the receipt?"
"I do. I bought them for a Christmas gift and they have a one year warranty."
The girl looked at the speakers and then at me like I was a leper.
"Is there a problem?"
"Well the warranty is with Logitech."
"Not with us."
Two computer geek guys who were standing a few feet away came to her side.
"Oh ya," the one said, "the warranty is with Logitech."
"So what does that mean to me?"
"You need to contact them directly."
"And then what?"
"They'll either give you an RGA number or give you instructions on shipping them back."
[Did I mention I hadn't eaten all day?]
"Well, it would have been nice if the guy I dealt with yesterday told me that, rather than have me lug it all in here for nothing."
So I lugged it back out to the trunk.
I was a cranky prick that night. Just ask The Squeeze.

Today I went to the Logitech website to see what I need to do to get the problem solved. They suggested jumping through all sorts of hoops, test the speakers on another system, blah, blah, blah. They don't work. I know they don't work. Don't dick me around. But just for fun, let me plug the line into my iPod to see what happens. Well holy mother of God! The damned things work. So that got me to thinking....maybe the line got disconnected when the desk was moved around. Could be. Needless to say, things are back in order now. Problem solved. Sometimes I can be so caught up in being right, and it kinda pisses me off when I'm not. In a way, it was really to my benefit that the office supply place didn't take them back. I would have felt like a total knob finding out they work fine.

Friday, August 04, 2006



Can't believe it's been about a week since I've last posted, but I have damn good reason! I've been getting ready for the big move. I have spent countless hours on the phone arranging details with lawyers, utility people, insurance people, realtors, etc.

The Squeeze has been on holidays this week (well, except for the first three days when he did have to work, and the fourth day when he had to deliver paperwork to the office), and has been doing some work in the basement of the old house to get it to where our realtor promised the new owners it would be. Funny, I haven't seen the realtor down there helping, but what the hell. So The Squeeze has been busy. We're both off next week, and I'm off the following week, so we'll be able to get a lot of work done.

Yesterday morning we met with our lawyer to sign about 320 documents for the purchase and sale of the houses. We decided to do something very grown-up. We got our wills in motion. We have another appointment next week to sign the official documents. It's all so very numbing to admit that yes, we will, in fact, die. We just always went with the idea that if I go, The Squeeze gets it all; if The Squeeze goes, I get it all. But now there's a baby in the picture so I have to make some provisions for her. So we have our agreement and it's going to be official next week. Now all we need to do is pre-plan our funerals. Such happy thoughts, n'est pas?

Today we take possession of the new place. The Squeeze went back to the lawyer's to pick up the keys and he came by the shop around 2:00 to jingle them in front of me. I put the "Back in 5" sign in the door and locked up so we could take a quick look at the place. Unfortunately, there was still a U-Haul van in the drive and the current owners were still there packing up the last of their things. Looks like we'll wait until I'm done work and try again. Hopefully they'll be gone by 6:00 so we can get some measuring done and see how things fit into our plans, or rather how our plans will fit into the rooms.

Tomorrow the work begins at the new place. Framing a closet, fixing up one of the bathrooms and painting until the cows come home. We'll be packing up all of the little things we won't be using and taking them over one pick-up load at a time. One week from today the movers will arrive to lug the heavy stuff to the new house. Then all we need to do at the old place is a final cleaning and we're gone.

The phone company called us to let us know they couldn't connect our phone in the new place today like we had planned. The current owners have their line connected until Saturday. Maybe this would be a good night to call my buddy in Vancouver and chat for a few hours.

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