August 9

Pet Peeves: Liars, Cheats and Thieves!

I’m not a negative person. At least I try not to be. But, every once in a while, things get to me and, lately, there’s been a lot of little things getting to me.

Things are tough right now. The economy is struggling, people are struggling and I know some businesses are struggling, too. What makes me angry is the widespread lack of integrity that is destroying the trust of people everywhere.

  • Banks manipulating transactions to maximize the amount of fees they can collect regardless of the financial hardship caused to the consumer
  • CEOs lavishing bonuses on themselves while laying off thousands of workers and begging for handouts from taxpayers.
  • Fake Debt Collectors scamming people out of money, leaving them broke and still stuck with the original debt.
  • Legitimate debt collectors bullying people into paying amounts that are grossly inflated above the amount of the original debt.
  • Credit card companies manipulating consumers in order to saddle them with unfair fees and interest hikes.

These are only the tip of the iceberg. These days it seems like there are people everywhere looking for a way to scam you out of every cent they can.

A few months ago, my washer stopped working and, like any normal person, I called a repair company. They came out, briefly looked at my washer and gave me an estimate of $350 to fix it. I was stunned. I don’t know a whole lot about washers but it didn’t feel reasonable to me. So, I called my step-brother to see if he had any handymen friends who might be able to help me out for less. Instead, he stopped by my house to take a look at it himself.

After a quick look, he knew exactly what I needed. He left the house and returned about 20 minutes later with a part he’d purchased for $30 bucks. And that INCLUDED the taxes. He tilted the washer back, had me hold onto it so it wouldn’t fall over, then reached under, removed the old part and replaced it with the new one. In less than 10 minutes, I was doing laundry with a washer that ran like new.

I called the original repair place and let them know I had purchased the part for $30 and questioned them on their inflated estimate for the repair when the part was so cheap. They tried to tell me it was a complicated repair and the bulk of the charge was for labor. When I mentioned that my step-brother had made the “complicated” repair by himself in about ten minutes, the guy became tongue-tied. He knew he’d been caught. He quickly apologized for the “miscommunication” and ended the phone call.

In the past few weeks, I’ve found overcharges on two of my utility bills. In both instances, when I contacted the company in question to get the charges removed, the customer service person on the other end did everything in their power to NOT help me. I swear, these people are trained to talk in illogical circles for as long as possible in order to¬† completely confuse and aggravate the customer. Probably because too many customers just give up and pay the bill. I often wonder how much profit they make by doing this.

In both cases, I had to become completely irate and demand to speak to a manager. Within minutes of getting a manager on the line, they “found” the error, admitted to the mistake and corrected the problem. In both cases, the call ended up being longer than it needed to be and, instead of leaving me satisfied that it was corrected, it left me feeling angry and frustrated because I had to go through so much to fix a simple problem.

There have been a few other issues this week as well. Any one of them alone would not be a big deal, but the combined effect of them all together has left me wondering if there’s anyone left to trust.

Businesses, big and small, need to learn that integrity is the most important thing they have. If they sacrifice that, they may earn a few extra dollars for a little while, but in the long run, they lose so much more.

Okay, rant over!

Any pet peeves bothering you lately? I’d love to hear about them. Feel free to use the comment section and rant away!

August 3

Hey, Can I Borrow Your Kid For A Day?

A couple weeks ago, I went to see Toy Story 3 with my seven year old nephew and we had a blast. We got there early and spent some time playing video games in the lobby before buying lots of popcorn and candy and picking the perfect seats in the theater. We went to a matinee showing in the middle of the week, so there were very few people there. It almost felt like we had the whole theater to ourselves.

I had the time of my life. Toy Story 3 was a great movie. It made me laugh and it made me cry in all the right places. It’s one of those movies where you get sucked in by the characters and quickly forget you’re watching a movie. You become part of the story. I walked out of the theater with a smile on my face and it made me realize that, without my nephew, I never would have gone to see it. Why? Because it’s a kids movie and I don’t have kids.

Now, I know there’s no law that says childless people can’t go to kids movies, but let’s be honest. If you’re a parent and you see a middle-aged person with no kids at a kids movie, don’t you worry just a little? You can’t help but wonder if the person is a child molester or just plain weird. They’re definitely out of place.

Besides, half the fun of going to a kids movie is the joy of sharing it with the kids. I loved laughing with my nephew and sharing goofy comments with him. It’s amazing how insightful kids can be. It made me realize how much I missed by not being able to have kids.

Why am I telling you all this? Because, thanks to all those previews before the movie, I have another problem on my hands. I have this list of kids movies I want to see.

  • Despicable Me
  • How To Train Your Dragon
  • Nanny McPhee Returns
  • Rapunzel (coming out in November)
  • a few others I can’t remember the names of at the moment.

Some of these I can see with my nephew if my sister will let me. I can’t hog him, though. My sister likes kids movies, too. And, of course, there’s competition with grandma time. Others are more girly and not something he’d be interested in. I have other nieces and nephews but they’re all older and have either outgrown kids movies or are at that stage where being seen in public with an adult is totally uncool.

So, if I want to go see these movies and NOT look like a middle-aged weirdo, I need to borrow a few kids. Any suggestions?

May 31

5 Ways Twitter Will Improve Your Writing

  1. Twitter encourages you to be more creative. The constant exposure to the creative tweets of others and feedback from your own followers will inspire you to find exciting new ways to express yourself. Challenge yourself to write those awesome tweets that make fellow tweeters take notice.
  2. Twitter forces you to be more concise. Writers by nature tend to write long, flowing paragraphs. Twitter’s short 140 character limitation will teach you to get the same message across in fewer words. Leave the flowing descriptions in your journal and pack your tweets with punch.
  3. Twitter improves your editing skills. For most writers, it will be nearly impossible to write that perfect tweet in one shot. Instead, write your thoughts out in detail then edit, edit, edit, cutting out the fluff and picking the right words until you’ve whittled your message down to perfection.
  4. Twitter will improve your vocabulary. Part of the editing process will be learning how to pick just the right words to get your meaning across without wasting space on unnecessary adjectives and adverbs.
  5. Twitter is an amazing source for learning grammar, punctuation and clear writing skills in short bursts. Just follow some of these Twitterers and learn something new every day: @GrammarROCKS, @GrammarMonster, @GrammarMonkeys and @AdviceToWriters
Category: Observations, Quick Tips | Comments Off on 5 Ways Twitter Will Improve Your Writing