Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Simple Transaction

Quotation marks = what was said to me
Italics = what I thought
Red = what I actually said

“You’ve reached Capital One Financial Services. Please select from the following menu. Say the service you need or say other.”
Here we go.
“Pay my bill.”
“Request a new card.”
“Transfer debt.”
“Increase my credit limit.”
Does anyone actually work there? How do I get to a real person? No, “0” did not work.
“Change my personal information.”
Oh, maybe that’s it. Change my personal information.
“I didn’t understand you; please try again.”
OK, I realize that I have a mumbling problem. This time, I’ll try it without sipping my coffee. Change my personal information.
“Did you say change my personal information?”
YES. Have you ever noticed that there is NOT an option for closing the account?
“Do you wish to change your personal information?”
Um, yes!
“I didn’t understand you. Please try again.”
“More options.”
I’m actually running out of those!
“Please hold while your call is transferred.”
“You’ve chosen to change your personal information. Please select from the following menu. Say the service you need or say other.”
I can’t do this again!
“Change my address. Change my work phone number. Change my home phone number. Change my email …”
Change my address.
“Please hold while you are transferred to an account specialist.”
Is that a person?
“Hello, this is Capital One account specialist Ryan; I understand that you wish to change your mailing address on your account?”
Uh, are you a real person?
(Pause) “Yes, ma’am.”
Actually, I don’t want to change my personal information; I want to close the account and either toss my Capital One card in a blender or chop it up with a butcher knife. (Wait, I should save those ideas for Dave Ramsey’s show.)
“Ma’am, I can’t actually do that for you. I need to transfer you to a senior account executive. Hold please.”
WAIT! Is that a real person?
(Elevator music.)
“Capital One Account Services, senior account executive Jocelle speaking. I understand that you wish to close your account. I’m so sorry that you believe you no longer need our financial services. I need to ask you a few personal questions before we can close the account.”
“First of all, Ms. Ward, why are you leaving us?”
She makes it sound so personal. I’m not going to answer that.
“Are you trying to reduce personal debt?”
I’m not going to answer that.
“Are you still using financial services with other companies?”
Actually, I keep all my cash in a Wal-Mart bag behind the litter box.
Jocelle, was it? I suppose it still is. I’m not going to answer any of your questions. It’s none of your business why I’m closing this account. Now, what do we need to do to make this happen?
“Yes, Ma’am, I understand. It will only take a moment.” (So far, it’s taken 43 minutes.)
“Yes, I completed the transaction for you. Is there anything else I can do for you?”
Can you send written confirmation of this?
“You want a document showing that the account is closed?”
I think we are starting to understand each other.
Yes, just address it to L. Skywalker c/o The Litter Box, Planet Earth.
"Is that your spouse's name?"
Only in my fantasy world.
Actually, he’s my Executive Senior Account Manager in charge of Financial Transactions and Dealing With Annoying People.

Hello? Jocelle?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Less About Pet Peeves

So, I’m standing in the “20 or less” express line at my least favorite place to be – a WalMart Supercenter. The short, gray-haired woman in front of me has … let’s see, 19 items. (I guess I’ll count the two tubes of toothpaste as one.) The shorter, balding man behind me looks annoyed, so I flash him a smile. He still looks annoyed. (Maybe because he had to cuff his jeans to keep them from dragging on the floor? Or maybe because he’s expecting to cut in front of me and my cheddar cheese, salsa and Altoids?)
One of my biggest grammatical pet peeves in this universe is the use of “less” when someone meant “fewer.” I realize this is not going to change the course of events or even make a dent in anyone’s journey, but here’s the deal: Use “less” for nouns that cannot be individually counted. Use “fewer” for nouns that can be itemized and counted. For example, if I put less icing on the cake, I might consume fewer calories.
All items on the conveyer belt at Wal-Mart can be individually counted. So the sign should read “20 items or fewer.” I hope this annoys you next time you are at WalMart. I realize, of course, this will not be the ONLY thing that annoys you about Walmart. And yes, the correct word is “annoy,” not “irritate.”
A “pet peeve” is, according to most dictionaries, something that causes a particular and continual annoyance to someone. It is possible that I cause one of your pet peeves and vice versa! The noun “peeve” derives from the adjective “peevish,” which usually means “showing annoyance,” “ill-tempered” or “in a bad mood.”
I have plenty of pet peeves, many of which involve other people’s driving. Here’s a partial list. People who:
• do not know how to merge onto a highway. You know what I mean: they slow down (or stop completely!) in the merge lane.
• don’t know how to use their turn signals, either leaving them on for miles or never turning them on.
• cannot multitask but think they can, so they drive, talk on the phone or text, smoke, eat and drink while swerving across two or three lanes of traffic.
• double-dip food into a “community” bowl.
• smack their lips or suck their teeth while eating.
• say “to make the long story short” and then don’t.
• throw stuff out of their car windows.
• tailgate and then whip around my car, only to meet me at the next stoplight.
• still don’t know that ALL CAPS means you’re screaming.
• don’t notice a stoplight has changed (because they think they can multi-task) and cause me to miss getting through the light.
• put any sort of clothing on an animal.
• enter a store through the marked “Exit” doors and then frown at me because I’m exiting through the same doors.
• don’t end a texting conversation with some sort of obvious closing (GTG, TTYL, LY).
• are consistently and habitually late.
• don’t wave or (acknowledge in any friendly way) when I let them in traffic ahead of me.
• put me on speaker phone without asking/telling me.
• interrupt (for no apparent reason) me and change the topic of our conversation.
• say “I could care less” when they mean “I couldn’t care less.”
• do not take care of their feet/nails but still wear sandals.
Other miscellaneous pet peeves:
• shopping carts with wheels that are broken and/or out of alignment
• ugly, cheap flip flops
• speed bumps
• the Edmond Hyundai and the Norman Chrysler commercials
• greeting cards that play music, talk or otherwise make sound
• fake tans
• unkempt fitting rooms
• skinny and/or embroidered jeans on adult men
• a latté that contains a little coffee and a lot of foam
 So, do you have any pet peeves? Let’s talk about them over coffee. Better yet, join me in the express line at Buy for Less, which features this hand-written sign: “20 items or so.” Nice way of handling it, don’t you think?


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Panic Button

Befuzzled as usual in a mall parking lot, I was wandering around in search of my car. I decided to take my daughter’s advice and press the panic button on my car key. I used to be embarrassed to do this. But according to several people I’ve talked to, pressing the panic button is now considered a common and necessary practice for anyone lost in a parking lot. So, with the key in my hand, I held up my arm and pushed that red button. A small red car two rows over to my right immediately lit up and began honking. (Yes, the astounding fact here is that I was only off by two rows!)
I once heard someone say she wished life had an Easy Button (like the Staples commercials). But a panic button definitely would be a better fit for me. For me, two things are clear: 1. I don’t expect life to be easy. 2. I do expect to have panic attacks. According to most dictionaries, panic means “overwhelming fear.” The fear can be with or without cause. However, I’m not sure anyone would admit to a panic without cause.
I was thinking about this recently while sitting in a doctor’s office waiting for test results. Fifteen minutes seems like 15 days when you’re wearing a flimsy backless gown, sitting on that hard table (it’s NOT a “bed”) and wishing you were somewhere else – like sitting on a beach in the Caribbean.
And recently when my teen-aged driver forgot to text me that he’d made it to his destination. And then didn’t answer his phone.
And a few days ago when a car exploded in the driveway of my neighbor’s house. (Um, yep!)
And last week when I couldn’t find my purse.
And a couple of weeks ago when I slammed on the brakes of my car within a foot of hitting a full-grown deer.
And the month when the bottom line of the bills was higher than the bottom line of the bank account.
And every day that the future seems so uncertain.
A devotional I read last week emphasized the importance of saying, in all situations, “I trust you, God.” This simple, yet difficult concept means giving up control; it means admitting that you can’t find the way on your own. More of us need to consider it a common and necessary practice to press God’s panic button.
I know my key’s panic button can’t fix the part of my brain that regularly forgets where the car is parked or can’t navigate across town without the GPS. But it did lead the way to my car. After that, all I had to do was press the “go home” button on the GPS. :)