Thursday, May 26, 2011

Every day is a new opportunity for failure.

"Behind every successful woman is a substantial amount of coffee" Stephanie Piro

I am a magnet for things just plain old not working out.

Other people can go through day to day life without really doing anything spectacular, and still not having anything disastrous go on either.

I can usually only manage to accomplish the former.

Take this past Sunday for example.

All I really wanted was a simple cup of coffee.

I couldn't make it at home, as the last time I bought coffee I mistakenly got some French Vanilla crap.

Instant coffee is pretty bad on it's own, but flavoured instant coffee tastes like liquified rubber.

Old rubber.

Like the kind that is on a boot that you let your dog chew.

And then the dog buries it in the back yard and you grow old and get put in a home, and a new family moves in and THEIR dog digs up the old boot that has been rotting underground for thirty years and starts chewing on it.

Take that taste and liquify it.

You will have a gold mine if you happen to be in the dog treat flavour business.

But if you are me, all you have is a rubber boot tasting coffee.

So I dump it out and head to town for groceries.

Last week I convinced my Stronger Half to go for ice-cream after shopping.

This week we were too damn early and the Dairy Treat wasn't open.

( Why??!! Why don't they open until 1pm??!! Am I the only person in the world that craves a Reses Pieces Flurry at 10 am??)

On the way out of town I have a brilliant idea to get SH to stop for Circle K Coffee.

I'm addicted to their Cafe Mochas.

Nobody else that I know actually likes Circle K Coffee.

I generally either have to trick people into going by asking them out for coffee, sort of insinuating I mean for Tim's or perhaps The Beandock, and then just pulling into Circle K.

Or I have to bribe them.

Since "SH" could also usually stand for "Smarter Half" I knew trickery was out of the question.

Thankfully I had a stock pile of Irving Gas coupons with me.

And my coffee deprived mind decided they were worth sacrificing for such a bribe.

I had to work quickly as our town is only twice the size of a postage stamp and we were already halfway to the gas stations.

It took almost three blocks to convince him to use the coupons.

I am generally the beneficiary of this Sobeys/Irving marketing scam because I make next to nothing, and drive two hours a day to do so. Therefor it is deemed that I deserve 3 cents off my gas purchases.

It's true, I do need them. But in the heat of the moment, like a genuine crack addict, I decided I needed my Cafe Mocha more.

So knowing the the quickest way to SH's heart is through his wallet, I explained how the coupons were more valuable the more liters you pump. His tank is bigger, so he should be using them.

Even as the words were coming out of my mouth I knew I was potentially giving up every future gas coupon that came into our possession.

Just to ensure he understood that this offer was a one time only deal, I managed to coyly slip in the real reason for going to Irving

" maybe I could like get a coffee or something"

Slick I know.

He's not generally easily persuaded, so he must just really love me.

Or perhaps he was just didn't like the way I was white knuckling it as we neared closer and closer.

At any rate, he pulled into Irving and I made a bee-line for the coffee machines.

Here I found the other four people in the world that like Circle K coffee. They all took their sweet time getting theirs.

When It was my turn I pressed my magic sequence of buttons

"Columbian" "CafeMocha" "16oz" "Start"

and waited for my caffeinated chalky goodness to fill my cup.

And it almost did.

Except the Chocolate was empty in the machine. Which meant I had to find someone to change it.

I corner a lost looking blonde girl with a Circle K Shirt on and tell her I need more chocolate.

She looks at me like I have three heads.

I explain to her that the cup didn't fill up and the usually means that the machine is out of chocolate.

SH at this point has finished filling both his truck with gas, and his own coffee cup and is waiting for me to go.

Blondie is trying to explain to me that there are different cup sizes and I must have pressed the 12 oz.

I've already thrown my bad coffee out, so I can't make her taste it, so I run it through the machine again.

She walks away, apparently thinking that she has satisfied a customer.

I wrangle her back over, and explain again that the machine is out of chocolate, as SH pays for the gas and coffees.

She thinks I'm a new customer, and yet again tells me that I've pressed 12oz, and put in a 16oz cup.

At which point I inform her in my best "get your stoner ass in gear" voice, that I purchase a coffee every single day and press the same buttons every single time, which makes me infinitely more qualified than her in the goings on of the coffee machine.

And this machine is most definitely out of Chocolate.

She then admits that she can't find the key. As she admits this she walks over to the storage counter and finds the key right where it probably always is.

She then turns around and says "I think we're out of Chocolate for the machines"

What I should have done was taken the key from her, opened the stupid cupboard door, found the new chocolate and replaced it in the machine.

Instead, I drop kicked her.

Well no I didn't. I wanted to, but without my caffeine/crack-cociane-chocolate high, I really didn't have the energy.

So I just gave up, and I walked out after twenty minutes of trying without my coffee.

Like I said, I seem to excel at getting into situations where things screw up. Nobody dies, nothing is destroyed, yet still my day is slightly crappier than if I hadn't of tried to do anything at all.

Not only did I give up my gas coupons and not get a coffee for it, but I then had to drive home to the sound of SH contentedly sipping HIS coffee, that he never wanted in the first place.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ten minutes to inner peace...

Happiness can only be found if you can free yourself of all other distractions.
Saul Bellow

This past weekend I took a fitness course.

We were asked to describe a fitness activity and how it effects us holistically.

One woman's answer was about mountain biking.

It was poetic, and thoughtful, and made you just want to jump on a bike and head out to the mountains.

I don't remember the exact wording, but it went a little something like this...

"You jump on your bike, and head out onto the trail. Your heart starts pumping and you legs start burning, and for the first ten minutes your only thought is ~ I just want to go home and sit on the couch~

Then you start to get into a rhythm, your mind falls into a zone of peace and you feel connected to the earth and the wind and the trees.

You feel one with your bike and can continue on for hours. Your soul feels restored."

Again I'm paraphrasing, but that was the general idea of it.

She did such a good job at describing the bike ride, and all the emotions that come with exercise that the instructor referenced her little speech two or three times through-out the weekend.

She also did such a good job at romanticizing the bike ride that I started to wonder why I don't enjoy my morning rides more...

Why don't I wake up an extra half hour early to spend that time, bonding with my dog and the earth and replenishing my spirt and nourishing my soul.

Hell, why don't I wake up an hour early to really get a good long bike in, since apparently after the first gruesome ten minutes you hit a point where you feel like a cycling goddess who can continue forever!

This morning, on my regular bike ride I realized why.

Her experience involves a personal challenge, combined with independence and freedom, mixed with a little adventure and remote woods paths.

Her bike is her ticket away from reality and the stress of the real world for awhile.

My experience involves a 2yr old husky.

My morning ride starts with strapping everything together.

My helmet to my head, my gloves to my hands, my pant legs inside boots so as not to get caught in the chain.

I then strap my dog to my handle bars and say the first of my morning prayers.

As we speed down the first little hill of our driveway my heart is always somewhere in my throat.

I have no thoughts of wishing I were back on the couch eating a bag of chips... I have no time for thoughts at all other than "Please please please stay upright"

This first moment of fear lasts for about 20 seconds, or until I get past the dreaded spot where I fell off the bike a few months ago.

I start to calm down as we round the first corner and head up hill.

Which is promptly where my dog stops pulling like a mad animal and lets me pedal up the hill with my own power.

It is heading down this second hill that I start my second round of prayers for the morning. My Hail Mary's are perfectly in rhythm with the pace of the dog.

It is also where I realize how un-awake, and un-co-ordonated I am as I try to avoid the ever changing potholes.

Should the cute little rabbit that lives halfway down the lane decide to peek out of the bushes and dart it's hoppy little butt across the lane, my morning prayers become interrupted by general Tourettes like hysteria.

Once I have survived the rabbit run, I have about 10 seconds to prepare for Hannah.

Our neighbours dog who is extremely friendly.

She loves people and Bandit.

Unfortunately she has not quite figure out yet that she can't actually get to me without causing a near death experience for all of us involved.

Sometimes she comes from the back of the house, sometimes from under the doorstep.

You never know.

So as I approach the house I do a mad scan of the entire yard searching for a blonde ball of furry potentially fatal energy.

It's like Where's Waldo for thrill seekers.

She's not usually out in the mornings. So these encounters are actually few and far between. I can generally pass by this house without incident.

But I am just like the American border patrol, constantly ready for an unsuspected attack.

Thinking that an attack (even a friendly one) is less than probable, is just the kind of thinking that puts you in the hospital.

Finally we come to the main road. The entire ride has lasted about a minute and a half so far... so you can see why it's so hard to actually get past that anaerobic ten minute stage to where life is bliss and you love exercising.

Choosing carefully at this moment which direction you decide to take is important for the rest of the ride.

To the right lies straight roads with a few hills, that the dog in his excitement, will actually pull you up.

The only draw back is the fifteen dogs that are roaming around their yard untied at such wee hours of the morning, that all happen to live in that direction.

Or you can turn to the left.

Dog-less and flat, it seems like the obvious choice.

Yet full of twists and turns.

The blind corners combined with foggy conditions actually make this direction as periled as being chased into the ditch by two German Shepards.

The decision is usually determined by the wind direction.

Going with the wind will leave you with the false idea that biking is easy, as the dog loves running downwind, and will take you quite far with little to no effort.

Oh, how life likes to slap you in the face when you realize as you turn around to come home that the dog hates running upwind almost as much as he hates running towards home.

You are left with no choice but to drag a 45 pound dog that wants to go in the opposite direction back the 3 kms he just ran so effortlessly.

So if you are awake enough to remember this fact (I probably remember 5 out of 7 days a week, it's hard to think before morning coffee) you head upwind.

I never hit the wondrous "life is bliss" ten minute mark.

That's not to say I don't bike for ten minutes... I'm usually gone for about a half hour at least.

But the connection to the earth portion of the ride gets drowned out by the fear of my head actually connecting with the earth, and I somehow never reach that Zen state.

Perhaps if I didn't have the dog, I could bike on my own and enjoy the bliss that must come with a ride not peppered with near death experiences.

But then, who are we kidding here... If I had no dog I still wouldn't be biking off road trails somewhere with a Buddah-like grin on my face.

I would still be in bed, enjoying that extra half hour of blissful sleep.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I suspect the company may be run by the Cheshire Cat

'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'
'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.
'I don't much care where - ' said Alice.
'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.
' - so long as I get somewhere,' Alice added as an explanation.
'Oh, you're sure to do that,' said the Cat, 'if you only walk long enough.'

Ode to Bell-Aliant

" Oh Bell Aliant, how do I love thee, let me count the ways....

Okay, so I was really going to write an Ode, but upon finding out that it is actually a poem with 3 parts, consisting of 10 rhyming lines that is supposed to be sung by a choir, I've decided instead to just do a general rant about Bell- Aliant.

I have a Pay-As-You-Go phone, that I don't like. My brother has a contract on a phone that he no longer uses, yet is still paying for.

I got the cockamamy idea that I would take over his phone contract, and switch my phone number to simple.

Save him $40 a month, and give me a phone that works more than 35% of the time, all without giving Bell-Aliant any more money than the universe was already giving to it.

What could be so hard about that?

First we do our due diligence. My brother provides me with his phone, and all the information that comes with it... account numbers, ID numbers.

We change the email address, and password. I print of the last bill, which he pays in full, and sends me on my merry way to the local Bell Aliant store.

At this point I am shining my pride up... you know making sure it is ready for the fall.

I go to the Bell Store. They tell me what I want is impossible. At this point my patience is still intact, so I explain again.

And again.

And again.

And finally the representative and I come to a conclusion.

That maybe what I'm asking for is not the equivalent of walking on water. It is simply switching some names and numbers around.

Yes she believes it can be done. But not by her, and not for me.

My brother must call Bell and put me on his account.

Then I can call Bell and tell them what I want and they can give it to me.

Not a simple solution. A few hoops to jump through, but none of them seem to be on fire, so I'm still blindly believing that this process is close to over.

My brother calls to put my name on his account, explaining the situation.

This is when they get out the gas and light the hoops.

They pretty much tell him that what we want to do is possible, but Hell will freeze over before all the stars align to make it so.

Or maybe we would just have to sacrifice a virgin or something.

Or maybe it's not even possible at all. They aren't really sure.

He did manage to get them to put my name on the account. And they said they would waive the transfer fee for the number swap just to be nice to us.

He then came up with a better plan.

"I think your best bet is to write your phone number down on a piece of paper, take the paper and the phones in to the store, and state very plainly that you will give them money on a recurring basis if they can make that ( point to the new phone ) ring when people call that ( point to your phone number ) number."

I thought he was just being sarcastic at the time, but now I see it was actually the best option.

At any rate, my name was on the account, and I now call to finally have the numbers switched.

I am told it is impossible to do over the phone. I must go to the Bell Representative in my area.

Off I trot.

Un-aware that they are lining up the hungry lions on the other side of the flaming hoops.

At the store, I am told that no, it can't be done. I don't have to have my NAME on the account... I have to OWN the account.

Yup you guessed it, I have to go call Bell.

She's not really sure if I can call or if my brother has to call, but she can do nothing for me until I get an elusive thing called "Transfer of Responsibility"

Now the fact that this is different from what she told me three days earlier, would surprise most people. But I was past the point of caring enough to bother to be surprised.

Also I was starting to discern that maybe Bell changes their policies on an hourly basis just for sh#ts and giggles.

I call Bell.

YES!! She can help me!!

Well, she thinks she can, could I hold please.

For 15 minutes.

Nope, sorry she can't really help me that much. She is happy to report that there is a $20 fee, but that has been waived. And she can do the Transfer of Responsibilities. She just needs to do a credit check.

As someone who already holds two accounts with Bell, and has been a customer who has never had a late payment in 7 years, I should have been insulted.

Instead I said "Sure thing."

Another 15 minutes of asking me for everything from my mother's maiden name to my shoe size and she tried to put me on hold again.

At which point I am nearly in tears as I say, I'm sorry, but I can't wait any longer, I am late for work.

She rambles off a new account number for me to use when I call back and I hang up. My soul is crushed a little with the disappointment that I've spent half an hour on the phone for no good reason at all.

That night after work I try again.

I get a very helpful woman that tells me she can't find the account number.

My head explodes.

As I wipe the brains off the wall and shove them back in my skull I tell her, that I don't mind giving all my information all over again.

Instead she puts me on hold to try and find the account.

My rising blood pressure correlates with the numbers on the phone display counting the minutes that I am on hold.

She does return, and has found the account number. She then takes twenty minutes verifying all of the information already keyed in, by reading it all back to me at the pace of snail on sedatives.

I'm pretty sure I could hear her flipping through the plastic pages of her training manual through out the entire call.

If I could have been face to face with her I might have ripped the "THIS IS MY FIRST DAY! :)" pin right off of her and stabbed her with it.

Finally I am put on hold for the actual credit check.

Five minutes later Miss Cheerful Employee of the Month gets back to me with the excitement of a kid who just found out there are three Christmases

"Good news and Great news!!"

She was ecstatic to report that my credit check came through clean.

The great news was not, as I had hoped, that they would give me some sort of compensation for all the B-S they had put me through.

The great news was that I did not need a $250 retainer to have the phone in my name.

That is probably why the people at the store send you back home to call someone. Because if that woman had of been with-in striking distance, I would be up for manslaughter right now.

I calmly thank her for the good news and great news and hang up.

This morning I went to the Bell store again, to have the numbers swapped. I was informed of a $20 fee.

They found no record anywhere of the memo that had been made earlier that this fee would be waived for me.

I'm pretty sure I swore about that one. Out loud. In public. With no remorse.

Bell has a way of bringing out the best in people.

After a half hour or so, I was finally told that it may or may not have worked, something somewhere was backed up and I wouldn't be able to actually use the phone for a few hours.

It was dead anyway.

I was told that if it didn't work by the afternoon, to come back to the store.

And that if I wanted to try and get the $20 fee waived, that I should call Bell.

I wouldn't call Bell again if you offered to have the next 20 months waived from my account.

My tale of woe should end here. But I have one more thing to add.

After three weeks of dealing with this company to finally get everything sorted out, you would think that I would be on the phone right this minute. Maybe even talking all night long.

Instead, I am blogging about it, because I plugged my phone in at work today and forgot to take it home with me.

Excuse me while I go hang myself with my phone charger.