Customer Service 101

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I am a creature of habit, not necessarily routine, but certainly habit and because of that I have been brand-loyal to my car dealership for almost 30 years.  In that time, their salesmanship and service have been exemplary.  Today is the first day that I have ever been disappointed in that service.

Two weeks ago, I had booked an appointment for the first scheduled service for my new car as well as requesting to have my snow tires installed.  When I leased my new car in March, I was told that the snow tires I left in storage at the dealership were the same size as my new wheels so I would be able to use them this winter.

I received a call this morning from the service department informing me that they had taken those snow tires out of their storage and disposed of them a few months earlier.  There was no discussion with me about this – they just made the arbitrary decision to discard something that belonged to me, that I owned.  Even if the snow tires were felt to be “on the borderline” of being usable for one more winter, that was MY decision to make – not theirs.

Since my sales representative was off for the day, I left a message for the sales manager and, true to form, he called me back before the end of the day.  Being the person I am, I felt uncomfortable asking for some sort of restitution, but I feel my request was completely justified and, thankfully, he agreed.

We are still discussing how we can come to a mutual agreement regarding my tires but I am confident that the resolution will make me believe that I have been a loyal customer for a reason.  The fact that I have had to cough up $550.00 to buy tires that I was not expecting to buy has not escaped me but hopefully this unexpected expense will be slightly offset by my dealership’s recognition of their error.

Here’s hoping that my service appointment goes well on Saturday morning.

 

 

 

Outside looking in

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My breath fogs the glass,

the palms of my hands

absorb the chill from the window pane.

I have not run away,

merely left the inside

to see it from another view.

The scene plays before me

like a TV drama.

The characters retreat to their dressing rooms

and the stage is empty.

The dialogue is unwritten

and replaced by silence.

Emotion paints the walls,

hurt settles like dust on the furniture.

My breath stops,

I cannot exhale,

the palms of my hands

absorb the chill from the hidden pain.

My reality looks so different

from my current view,

outside,

looking in.

~~

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Hope is the most important thing

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I was speaking to a guest of the lodge yesterday who is currently embroiled in a nasty divorce.   He skimmed over a few of the distressing low-lights of his battle and said something during our conversation that really struck me.  Responding to one of my remarks he said, “Hope is a dangerous thing.”

I thought about his comment for most of the morning.   I carried it with me throughout my day at work.  It followed me while I was delivering meals to the Food Bank and even while I was walking my dog after work.  How disheartened he must feel thinking that to hope that there are good things waiting for him in his future is a treacherous slope to climb.  How unfortunate that he is so skeptical of the one thing that he should embrace – hope.

Hope is not a dangerous thing.  Hope is the most important thing.  It is the thing that provides the light at the end of that dark tunnel.  It is the thing that gives us the aspiration to dream of something better.  And it is the thing that makes what we see through the windshield so much more important than what we see through the rear-view mirror.

Hope is anticipation.  Hope is longing.  And hope is having enough faith in our choices to think that leaving the stressful things behind allows us to carve a better path for our future.

I know that he will never see this blog post but, Richard, my wish for you is that you are eventually able to see the goodness in hope.  It will support you in ways your relationship never did and it will give you the chance to have the true happiness you deserve.

 

 

If I say I’m fine….I’m lying

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Many memes and many jokes (mostly at men’s expense) have skirted around the fact that if a woman says, “I’m fine”, there is an emotional undertone that means something far beyond being fine.  My experience with the phrase ‘I’m fine’ has completely surpassed that, to the point that nobody in my immediate family uses those two words to describe their current state of being.

Both of my parents were alcoholics and suffered through a myriad number of complications through their later years.  It is an ugly disease with ugly consequences.  The worst part of watching the effects of alcoholism deteriorate a human body is having that person tell you that, while they are suffering numerous symptoms and contrary to every doctor’s diagnosis, they are fine.  Fine is no longer a word I use to describe how I feel and for very good reason – it’s bullshit.

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I sent a text to a friend yesterday to ask about their well-being and was given the response “I’m okay”.   Although it was not the tried and hated response of “I’m fine”, it ranked right up there and it made my Spidey senses tingle.  I knew there was more going on but I also knew not to push.

When you get a text message from someone you know on a very personal level, the inflection in their voice is heard loud and clear above the silence of a text message.  The only thing I can do is be here when they need to vent, to be present when they realize that I know they are not “fine” or “okay” and just be ready to listen.

 

I will love you until….

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After watching a few back-to-back episodes of Hoarders yesterday morning (yes, you may roll your eyes now), my Sunday chore list became exponentially longer.  What started as a routine house cleaning day turned into a fridge and freezer purge, the breakdown of every cardboard box within my reach, two dump runs and a full afternoon in the kitchen making healthy lunches and soup for the week.

As I spent that time in my kitchen, my iPod playlist shuffled through every type of music you can imagine but the more I listened, the more the songs reminded me of my mom.  I have been thinking about my mom a lot lately.  She had a huge heart and she would continually think of little things to do for people just to see them smile.   She would spend the weeks leading up to Christmas baking until she could bake no more.  Her house always had the essence of fresh-baked cookies and squares and the Christmas tins would be piled high on her dining room table.

Her favorite day was not Christmas day but the day that she would drive, or later be driven, to all of the places where she would deliver her goodies.  The local Hardware store, the post office and the local veterinarians would excitedly open the tins to see their favorite type of cookie and their reaction was the only present she ever truly wanted.  My mom was the type of person who would learn those little things about you and she would make sure that those little things made their way from her home into your heart.

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I was reminded of this wonderful quality when, during my furious Hoarder-inspired clean, I was rearranging some things in my kitchen.  There in the midst of my jar of utensils was a lone yellow rose.  I had long forgotten the bouquet of flowers my mother had given me so many years ago.  She had stealthily used my key to leave the flowers on the island in my kitchen and attached to the fragrant arrangement was a simple card that read, “I will love you until the last flower dies”.  I thought it was an odd message but after really looking the arrangement, I saw the flower in the middle of the bunch.  It was a lovely yellow rose, but it was artificial.  It would never die.

That was my mom.  And those little nuances that made her who she was are the things I miss the most.  Some days I’m fine, a phrase we are no longer allowed to use in my family, and some days, like yesterday, the emotion snuck up on me and I could not control the flow of tears.

But it is not just the rose that reminds me that she will always be with me.  My mom is somehow still able to pull strings and make wonderful things happen in our lives that we never expected.  And it is these things, the things that only my mom would know, that make the gestures so special and so meaningful.

To say I miss her is a gross understatement and  I hope she knows that I will love her until that last flower dies.

Remembering a post about Remembrance

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This was written two years ago and I could not think of a better post for today, so I am putting this out there for those who read it to read it again and for those who missed it to read it for the first time.

~~

Undoubtedly, you’ve seen them.  The men and the women of the Royal Canadian Legion Branches have been doing their duty, standing at local businesses with their trays of poppies, collecting donations.  I see them every year.  I donate several times every year and I am proud to don my poppy to show my support.

But Friday morning, November 6th, 2015, will stand out in my memory as the day I was truly humbled and I knew precisely what I would be thinking during my moment of silence on Remembrance Day.

My friend Karen was enveloped by her navy blazer, her hair neatly braided, and a bright red poppy radiated from the lapel on her jacket. But that bright poppy was no match for her vibrant smile as she stood in the rain with her tray of poppies strung proudly around her neck.  When I asked her why she was standing in the rain as opposed to being under the shelter of the covered entrance to the store, she paused briefly, looking into the sky while summoning her response.  When she replied, it stopped me in my tracks and hit me right in the heart.   She said, “I don’t know.  They stood out there for us so the least I can do is stand out here for them.”.

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For a few seconds, I was frozen in my spot.   I smiled at her and continued into the store to buy my morning paper.  I reflected on what she had said to me and, once out of the store, I stopped and chatted with her in the rain some more while I donated the rest of my change.

The thought of what she said still brings a tear to my eye every time I recall her voice saying that brief but overwhelmingly gracious line.  That sentence was profound.  One simple line put Remembrance Day back into perspective for me.

So easily at 11:00 am on the 11th day of the 11th month, we all take a moment to share silence to remember the fallen, praise the heroes and thank those still serving to protect our basic rights and our freedom.  But how much do we think about what those soldiers really endured to fight for us?  How deeply will we let our brain delve into those dark places to be able to scratch the surface of the atrocities the fighters of those World Wars, and the many conflicts since, have been made to bear?

As the previous generations fall into the past and subsequently we skip quickly ahead to the next epoch of humanity, how many stories of our fallen ancestors will continue to be shared?  My maternal grandfather died of a heart attack long before I was born.  He served and I know so little about his sacrifices for our family and our country.   His stories of bravery seem to be tucked away with his photographs and his absence.

Hearing Karen’s thoughtful reasoning behind standing in the rain with her tray of poppies made me want to research the time my grandfather spent serving his country.  I want to feel that connection on Remembrance Day and I want to share that legacy with my nephews so their generation will understand what it means to show courage in the face of adversity, so they will appreciate what it means to sacrifice yourself for the greater good and how bravery is defined by doing something you believe in, no matter what the outcome.

To all of the men and women who are currently serving, to all of those who have served in the past and to those who are finally enjoying the peace they fought so diligently to preserve, I salute you and I thank you.  And at 11:00 am on the 11th day of the 11th month, I shall bow my head and take a moment to truly appreciate everything I have because all of you made it possible for me to have those things.

 

Follow the bubbles

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I have learned many things about the ocean and its inhabitants by watching documentaries and several TV mini-series.  I have been amazed by the palette of colors the ocean is able to use to paint itself, the varied species of creatures who contribute to life under the sea and the vast array of reefs and wrecks still waiting to be explored further.  But I learned more from the bubbles than I did from the documentaries.

Scuba divers follow their bubbles to the surface when they don’t know which way is up.  When they are so far into their dive that they become immersed in their surroundings, those bubbles are the true measure of reality.  Divers can become so convinced that the path they are following is the best path for them that they become disoriented and swim sideways, not realizing that their journey may put them in peril.  Sometimes the simplest solution is the one that helps you the most.

The more I began to think about that, the more I realized that those bubbles represent the most important people in our lives.  When we find ourselves a little lost or unsure of where we are headed, we look to those people for support and guidance, knowing they will always lead us to the place where we can once again catch our breath and feel like we are above the surface of our problems.

The ocean diffuses the light, just like life diffuses our perceptions.  We may feel weightless in the ocean, we may feel hopeful and trust our feelings, but our feelings can play tricks on us just like the light can alter our judgement.

No matter how lost you feel or what your brain may tell you, trust those bubbles.  They will always lead you in the right direction.