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  • Customer service FAIL

    March 13th, 2009 she Posted in Frothing At The Bit   7 Comments »  

    My parents were Credit Union members for ages. My mum still is. As a kid I had a credit union account. Drew had one too.

    The only downside to Credit Unions – other than the MasterCard affiliation – is that they’re not national. Accounts would constantly need to be opened and closed with each move. Since Drew is military and we moved around a lot, we moved our accounts to a national bank well over a decade ago. Over the years they’ve held all our business – mortgage, payroll deposits, RRSP’s, etc.

    Today I tried to deposit a bank draft from a Credit Union into a tax free savings account in my bank. Tried being the operative word. After making me wait 45 minutes while they “discussed” the situation, they refused the draft on the grounds that they thought it was fraudulent. Never have I been so mortified or angry in my life. If our accounts weren’t joint (or Drew had been home) I would have yanked every account and our mortgage from the bank immediately. Remember, we’ve been “customers” of this bank for over a decade. They have all our financial history stored in their computer system. They know what our income is, that we’ve never had a late payment, and anything else they could possibly want to know about us. We’ve paid their ever increasing “service fees” for years receiving little in return for the pleasure. Despite this record, apparently, I’m a sketchy character capable of trying to deposit a bad cheque.

    Needless to say I left the bank fuming. And walked into the nearest Credit Union and opened a new bank account with cash. Oh, and they didn’t immediately assume the Credit Union bank draft was fraudulent. Go figure! I opened the tax free savings account while there as well.

    We’re not planning on leaving the city anytime soon so I don’t think we need to have a national bank anymore. If this is how I’ll be treated after a decade I certainly want nothing to do with them anymore.

    I’m not a number. And my business can and will go elsewhere. Slowly until Drew comes home. But certainly I’ll be moving my accounts away from the bank once Drew returns.

    Chalk one up for the pissed off customer. I suggest banks start rethinking their treatment of customers or I won’t be the last customer they piss off and lose.

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    Sneaky

    March 10th, 2009 she Posted in Friends & Family, Frothing At The Bit   6 Comments »  

    Drew included a few shirts in the package he sent me. You might remember the story. Package is delivered. Inside is coated in sticky goop because he sent pop cans home in the box. Frozen, exploded pop = me doing laundry AGAIN and trying to save a soggy letter so I can read it.

    I was a little confused at the time since both of the shirts were a size smaller than I wear. Nothing in the letter about the shirts NOT being for me so I figured Drew was just trying to encourage me to wear more form fitting clothing instead of my usual “tents”.

    Apparently I was wrong.

    When Drew called me last night he informed me that the shirts are intended for him. Not me.

    Whaaaa!

    I think I’m going to fill his next care package with things for me and make him hold onto them and bring them home to give back to me. Seems fitting under the circumstances.

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    Miscellany

    March 5th, 2009 she Posted in Frothing At The Bit, It's a Living, Learning & Education   No Comments »  

    Yeah I know. I missed a day. Life intervenes on occasion.

    Spent yesterday in a training class for a piece of software that I’ve been using for months. Didn’t learn anything new but certainly ended the day feeling dismissed, patronized, and condescended to by the Trainer. Checked with some other co-workers and found they felt the same way after the session. There was a clear bias (although, he categorization of people was unsupported by facts and based on his own unchecked assumptions) between the favoured group and the “others” and us “others” certainly noticed it.

    Big storm blew through Edm last night and now I get to dig out. Oh joy. Where’s a snow shoveling fairy when you need one?

    There’s an abandoned shopping cart on the sidewalk in front of my house. I am not amused. It makes shoveling difficult and looks like an eyesore. I have no idea who left it here. I didn’t check earlier but I’m going to see if the store name is listed on it so I can call tem to come retrieve their cart. I have no idea what I’m going to do if it doesn’t have any identifying marks on it or if the store refuses to come get it. All I know is that it can’t stay here.

    Got multiple papers due Friday evening so it’s time to buckle down and write like a madwoman. Don’t expect to see or hear from me over the next few days.

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    bye bye fall back position

    February 23rd, 2009 she Posted in Frothing At The Bit, It's a Living, Learning & Education   4 Comments »  

    I spent a bit of time this morning on the phone with an EI service representative. Apparently EI does not normally pay benefits to anyone who is not actively seeking full-time work. Attending school full-time would disqualify me from receiving benefits.

    However, since I’ve spent the last few years attending part-time while holding down a full-time job, I should be able to continue attending part-time while receiving benefits. Then again, EI may choose to deny an application based on part-time university attendance being considered a potential hindrance to employment availability.

    [Insert mental rant here]

    Gee thanks government safety net that our family has been forced to pay into for decades. Some help you’re turning out to be.

    [/rant]

    I don’t want (nor qualify for) a student loan in order to continue with the degree. So now I must search bursary and scholarship programs if I want to go to school full-time after the lay off. Seems far more likely that I’ll continue to be working full-time – if I can find a job – while I continue pursuing the degree part-time.

    Back to the drawing board.  It appears I need a new fall back position plan.

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    Quick, someone call the laundry police!

    February 15th, 2009 she Posted in Frothing At The Bit   4 Comments »  

    Yet another reason why I hate doing laundry. I decided to do the last load this evening which forced me to fold and put away all of the laundry from yesterday. When I got to the bottom of the hamper I was left with seven odd socks. Seven! That’s a whole week’s worth of toe and heel coverings.

    When I put my socks into the hamper I always ball them up into pairs. This forced me to separate them to put them into the washing machine. When I transferred them into the dryer no socks remained left behind. I checked. My nose was half way to the nice white enamel bottom to pull out the load so I know it was empty. The dryer is empty. I checked it twice after discovering the unreasonably high number of missing socks. Nothing hiding in there. The floor us clear. No socks mistakenly dropped during the transfer from hamper to washer to dryer and back to the hamper.

    I didn’t find any mysteriously mating with the other clothes I folded. They’re just GONE! Seven. Unmatched. Single. Socks. Sitting. On. My. Bed.

    I have no clue what to do with them. They’re twinless. No mating allowed. None look similar enough to pair with each other and start new relationships. Some are long. Some sports minded. Others are anklets. White. Blue. Grey. Black. Turquoise. Gone walk about. Left to wander the wilderness before they move into the cleaning rag pile.

    If I continue to lose socks at this rate when I do laundry I’ll have to go to Costco bi-weekly to just to replenish my sock drawer.

    I’m afraid to count the folded gitch.

    At least I came out with the same number of shirts and pants as I went in with. For now… There’s still that last load to dry and put away.

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    just call me screw-up

    February 11th, 2009 she Posted in Frothing At The Bit, It's a Living   4 Comments »  

    So it seems that the funding for the project I work on, and by extension my job, won’t be renewed this year. As of May 15th I’m out of work. Yesterday morning I was offered a lateral move to another section of my department which would ensure that I’m still employed past the original contract date. The job would be pretty much what I do now – with a slightly different shift in emphasis.  I’d spend more of my time doing stuff I don’t really enjoy and less time doing the stuff I’m most fond of. I was apprehensive and the boss gave me a few days to think about it.

    I spent most of the day considering my options and sent the details to Drew via email. His response was to take the job and, if I hated it, I could always quit and go looking for something else. I’d pretty much decided to do so depending on the responses I received to a few questions today.

    Needless to say I didn’t get the response I wanted. I figured I could survive the job and the addition of weekend and evening support as required. I’d find someway to juggle the requirement to be available to our instructors and students during certain periods of the year that could have severe negative impacts on my own course commitments and education. I’d work around that as best I could when the time came.  I also decided I could accept the lack of pay raise and lack of possible future movement until my degree(s) were completed. Hey, I’m used to working like a dog for little return. My make or break item was the reporting structure. If I continued to report to my existing boss, or one of the managers immediately below him, I would have accepted the position in a heart beat. Unfortunately, the position reports to a woman I just can’t see myself working for.

    I have issues when it comes to reporting structures. I know I have issues. I’ve had some horrific bosses over the years. Ones who verbally berated me in front of dozens of other employees for things I had no control over.  Like the boss who screamed at me in front of a client that I never notified him of a specific software issue despite my telling him verbally and informing him in writing (memo and email). It appears he forgot the conversation and trashed the memo as “useless” and had set up a filter on his email to send anything I sent him to his trash. And people wonder why I have email archives that go back 10+ years…

    I’ve had bosses who scheduled me to work 18 hour days for weeks on end. Ones who had me so screwed up that I didn’t know if I was coming or going. I’ve been sent to foreign countries and my hotel reservations cancelled by managers while I was en route so that I had to scramble to find a place to stay upon landing (long story, thank the gawds for Boo!). I had ulcers. Developed horrible insomnia. Got so stressed out that I had to psych myself up just to come into work. The thought of certain work assignments had me running to the bathroom to vomit my guts out. In the end, I found a new job and the bosses from hell who played a starring role in my nightmares were replaced with a wonderful female supervisor who described me as shell shocked and displaying behaviours similar to those of a battered woman. Not exactly the way you want your working life to be remembered.

    After having reported to a good boss phenomenal supervisor I decided I was never going to knowingly place myself into a situation similar to the ones in my past. I’ve been pretty successful over the years. I’ve had great bosses and relatively benign ones. Even new boss has been pretty impressive. But I can see that all ending if I were to have accepted the lateral move. I’ve worked with this woman as a supposed equal a number of times. I know from those experiences that we would not be a good fit. Without going into details I’ll just say that the thought of having to report to her made my stomach start to churn and my stress levels to jump through the roof.

    She might be the nicest woman on the planet outside of work. But. I. Can’t. Won’t. Work. For. Her. There’s no way in hell I’m willingly giving her that kind of power or control over my employment future or daily working life. I’d report to anyone else in the department without complaint. But I’m not in a position where I can report to her and “survive” the experience.

    And I have no idea how to tell my current boss any of this without looking like some sort of fruitcake or whiner. I did ask if there were any way the reporting structure could be modified without going into any details. And got the expected answer: No. So I’m going to have to suck it up and go looking for work elsewhere. In a recession.

    Here’s hoping my headhunter can find me something – anything – before my current contract runs out.

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    Pleased to meet you, won’t you guess my name…

    January 31st, 2009 she Posted in Frothing At The Bit, It's a Living   2 Comments »  

    Skip guessing my name. Most of you know it already. Read the rant instead.

    We continue to deal with “the great fallout of 2009″ and so I didn’t leave work until 8pm last night. Hey, I’m writing this at 2am. Friday is officially “last night”. Mostly I left because I could no longer see straight or think coherently. After 11.5 hours of working (Lunch? Breaks? What are those?) I’m certain my brain has turned to mush. And I was afraid I’d get locked in the building and have to call security to get out. Nearly all of my co-workers are gone at 4pm or earlier on a Friday. Most of us come in earlier in the morning to leave earlier… I was damn close to being alone. No one else was in my office bank. Even the cleaning crew was done hours earlier. My closest co-worker (that I know of who remained behind) was a building away…

    I have a paper due this weekend. I have a doctor appointment later this afternoon. And I can’t forget the Celt-X Robbie Burns night party at night. Gotta charge the camcorder batteries for that. Taking home movies to send to Drew and all that.

    I’m officially taking Saturday off from the work project that’s now due Monday. No work for me. I’ll pick it back up on Sunday.

    I am slowly beginning to realize that work isn’t worth screwing up my own school schedule or negatively impacting my grades, health or family life. My job certainly doesn’t pay me enough, or acknowledge my hard work or skills enough, to make me rank it above my school work, sleep, etc. on a weekend!

    You might not recognize it but I know I’ve come a long way in a few years. Not long ago I would have set all my own needs and desires aside to do whatever it took to get a job done. Years of being ignored and taken for granted at work are finally beginning to sink in. I can kill myself to get project finished and no one will notice or blink an eye. Its my own fault. I’ve set that expectation in others. Need to put out a fire? Of course I’ll ignore my husband or school life to do whatever you need to make the company look good… You get the picture. Sure the new place isn’t as bad as the previous place I worked – they haven’t scheduled me 17 hour days with no breaks for weeks on end for example – but in many ways it’s the same. I often wonder if anyone even knows I exist or what I do. So much so that I’m not sure I have any idea what exactly my job entails…

    I just do what needs to be done.

    My mom worries that I talk about work too much on my blog. She’s afraid future employers won’t hire me because of its contents. I’d like to think I’m obscure enough in my writing that future employers should have little to worry about. I don’t name names – not of my workplace or co-workers – and I don’t recall ever specifically detailing any problems at work. I try to use generalizations as much as possible.

    My memory could be faulty of course.

    Since I started blogging in 2003 I’ve never hidden my site or how to find me online. This is me. Warts an all.

    However, you have to know me personally to know my name, where I work, what exactly I’m working on, and what, specifically, I’m ranting about on any particular day. And if you know me that well than nothing I’d ever say about my concerns or experiences at work would ever come as a surprise to you. Mostly because you’d have already heard me spout off a detailed opinion in person. I’m mouthy like that.

    I can’t control what others may choose to read into my words – those written and those left unsaid. I also can’t control the impressions others have of me thought my personal writing. If you choose to see yourself in anything I write then I can’t do anything to impact or change your perceptions. Most people I refer to in my writing are well aware of their pseudonyms (some were selected or “dictated” by said individuals), are aware of my blog and the bulk of what I’ve written about them from face-to-face conversations, and frequently have read what I’ve written about them. A bunch of them comment here off and on. If I’m off base or overly zealous in a post they can correct me anytime. And sometimes do.

    Of course, if I haven’t told you personally how to find my blog and what your pseudonym is, there’s a very good chance I’m NOT writing about you. Get over yourself already!

    And you thought my ego was big…

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    Let the auditions commence

    January 28th, 2009 she Posted in Frothing At The Bit   4 Comments »  

    Happy birthday dad; wherever your spirit rests.  In 2007 I watched the sun rise over the Taj Mahal.  Last year I was digging out from a snow storm and trying to write a paper.  This year I whine.

    Apparently I have to audition to get a family doctor. Maybe audition isn’t the right turn of phrase but it certainly feels that way this afternoon.

    For years I’ve been dragging my butt to a local medi-centre to be poked and prodded by whichever doctor is on hand. There’s a doctor shortage in these parts and all that.  Unfortunately for me, there exist a few chronic illnesses  in my family. And I’m a bit worried they’ve been rearing their ugly symptoms of late. When I dared question the clinic doctors about them I was informed in no uncertain terms that I needed to get myself a steady family doctor immediately and stop visiting the clinic.  I’m sure there’s a legitimate reason for that. Build up of relationship between doctor and patient.  Common medical files. Some such nonsense.

    Whatever.  I’ve just spent the day going through the list of every doctor who is accepting considering accepting patients according to Capital Health.  Of the 28 doctors on the list, two had phone numbers that were disconnected (or inaccurate on the site perhaps). One had a phone number with a continual busy signal.  Three rang incessantly and went unanswered.  Most of the remaining numbers I called led to part-time clinic doctors (only accepting clinic patients) who do not accept appointments.  Oh, and they’re not really accepting patients either. Apparently some patients at the clinics ask for the doctors by name.  So, instead of waiting for the next available doctor, you can specify who you want to wait for.  My current clinic already offers that “service”. I just don’t see the point of leaving one clinic where I’ve been going for years to sit around the waiting room in another clinic.

    Finally after a lot of calling I finally got through to a doctor who is accepting new patients. The office is quite a ways away from home but since I already travel 15kms to reach my dentist I figure 10kms in the opposite direction to see a doctor isn’t too bad.  There’s just one catch. The doctor has to meet me for a consult to determine whether or not he wants me as a patient. Me, I didn’t know doctors being paid by my tax dollars had the right to refuse patients.

    Now I’m worried that I won’t be deemed acceptable.

    It’s not that I go to the doctor often.  Hell, I probably don’t visit them nearly enough. In that way I’m a lot like my dad was.  I mostly show up at the doctor’s office if I’ve sprained or broken something. I think the last time I was there – outside of the odd knuckle injury about a month back – was nearly a year ago.  So. I hit a doctor’s office maybe 2x a year. Not a huge workload or inconvenience at this stage.

    The problem is, as I mentioned earlier, there are a few illnesses that run through my family.

    One I know I have.  I don’t take medication for it. Mostly because I decided I didn’t like the way the meds made me feel and they just treated some of the symptoms while making others worse. So I’ve learned to live with the symptoms and make do. That’s my choice.  I suspect that may change in future. Eventually some of the nastier symptoms will set in and I’ll likely have to accept medications. But for now, and until they appear, the make do approach suits me just fine.

    What worries me is disorder #2 isn’t one that I can choose to ignore manage in the same manner as I’m currently dealing with #1.  And #2 may end up being a bit of work for any doctor – especially in the beginning. So, if a doctor is allowed to refuse a patient, what’s a girl to do?  Apparently #2 is serious enough that the clinic doctors think I need a full time family doctor to manage the illness and it’s associated symptoms.  If I don’t tell the doctor why I want/need a family doctor I’m worried he won’t feel any urgency to accept me. On the other hand, if I do tell him and he decides I’m too much “work”, I may find myself back where I started from; calling every doctor in a phone list attempting to find one who’ll take me.

    So I’m waffling. I have an appointment Saturday afternoon. Keep your fingers and toes crossed.  I can use all the luck I can get as I try to find a doctor who’ll accept me warts and all.

    Let this be a lesson to US based readers. Don’t believe the hype. Canada’s medical system may be “free” but it’s horribly sick. Huge percentages of Canadians don’t have family doctors or appropriate medical care. Sure, it’s not driven by our inability to pay or a lack of health insurance. Rather, it’s driven by a manufactured shortage of doctors and primary care workers.

    Special note for frequent readers: I’ve been informed that co-worker R, who I renamed mommy R yesterday, prefers to be referred to as big momma R.  Henceforth I shall try to remember the new title. Our hero shall still be occasionally referred to as Marion as befits the occasion.  That is all.

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    Preparing for deployment stress

    January 24th, 2009 she Posted in Frothing At The Bit, Those Who Volunteered   3 Comments »  

    Earlier this week I got a package in the mail with generic deployment information. One of the booklets in the package was titled “preparing for deployment stress”. A bit like closing the barn door after the horses get out. Drew has been gone for over a month now.

    This isn’t his first deployment. Prior to that I’d already spent months on end away from home working in the US and India. Temporary separations are pretty much the norm for us. I know we’re an oddity in some sections of the military community because of it. Usually it’s just the serving member who’s gone and always the spouse left at home. Not at our house. I’ve spent far more time away from home due to work over the years than Drew has.

    So, while I miss him when he’s not here, I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself and the fur babies while he’s away. With occassional spurts of whining injected into my conversation and blog posts.

    I’m certain that the services offers by the MFRC for remaining spouses or families are very useful for some people. Personally, I’m not a fan. On his last deployment I found their continual “check in” calls a bigger source of stress than Drew’s absence. Some woman called me repeatedly at work trying to convince me to take days off to attend coffee sessions and gatherings with other wives during the day. Despite my repeated requests for her to stop calling and my refusals to attend daytime events, the woman wouldn’t stop calling me at work and home. Drove me bonkers.

    This time round they are holding events on evenings and weekends along with the daytime activities. This I know because I’m receiving an event list via email. Nothing on the list has interested me to date. Mostly because I don’t like being put into situations with groups of strangers. Especially if the only thing we have in common is that our spouses are deployed.

    Want to increase my deployment stress to the point where I cease to function? Make me attend MFRC events.

    This trip Drew had the option to refuse to provide the MFRC with my contact info and for that I am incredibly grateful.

    Everyone else – the rear party, chaplain, etc. – all know how to get in touch with me if necessary. Thus the occassional email, package, or phone message left on voice mail. But unlike before – the calls are infrequent and there’s no pressure to skip work to attend their events.

    I have a great support network. Friends and former co-workers. My awesome neighbours. People who I spend time with socially at least once a month when Drew is home. That’s continued since he’s been gone. Add to that work, school and blogging and I barely have time left to breathe.

    Who needs to prepare for deployment stress? At this point – not me!

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    ARRGGGGGHHH!

    January 13th, 2009 she Posted in Frothing At The Bit, It's a Living   1 Comment »  

    I am trying to decide how to process today. Like a true useless female critter, I got so angry and frustrated that I cried like a baby. I hate it when I do that. It’s a completely involuntary and silly response and I wish I had better control over myself so I didn’t take things so personally. Or at least that I could get angry and just explode like most people do. Instead I fell apart. I don’t even have something useful like menopause to blame my reactions on.

    What’s worse, no one is able to provide any sort of answer or direction to my underlying question. Instead, we’re all supposed to fall on our swords in order to appease others. Many times I’ve accepted responsibility for the actions or mistakes of others and willingly stepped up to the plate.  Today I felt an extreme amount of pressure to do so despite knowing that there was very little of the mess that I had any authority or manner of control over. I feel like the nerdy kid on the playground being harassed by the school yard bully. I am sure I’m not the only one.

    Things are changing. I hope for the better.

    When I arrived home I found the snow shoveling fairy had made a visit. This small nicety from a neighbour immediately improved my mood. I am incredibly grateful for the wonderful people who surround me and the things they do, without expecting anything in return, that shows that someone cares.

    I also got an interesting email tonight. If nothing else, it provides a sense of hope to cling to. I just hope I can hold on to the second quarter.  Many times I feel somewhat unemployable as I sit in limbo between odd skill set and past experience and formal education. I often wish I had something else to fall back on, like office admin skills, so I could go work elsewhere. But I don’t.  I have a lot of respect for admins because they know how to do things I can’t imagine how to complete. I used to joke that it was my ego that kept me from applying for positions like that. But it’s not.  It’s a combination of other things. I know I don’t have the requisite knowledge and skill set to be good at the position – and I hate not being good at what I do – and I know I’d be quickly bored.

    Bored me is not a good person to be around.

    In the meantime I guess I wait.  And hope. And keep my eyes open and ears to the ground. Obscure much?

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