Monday, September 18, 2017

Waiting to Exhale

Picking up the repaired laptop Saturday afternoon at Big Box was a complete reversal to the drop-off experience.
With three Nerd Squad guys on duty, there was no one in line. I walked right up to the counter and was served straight away.
Learned the problem with automatic updates freezing the laptop wasn’t unique to me. Nerd Guy said they’re working on ten laptops with automatic update related problems, some of which are black screens.
I asked about removing updates altogether. He said it’s not encouraged but, under the circumstances, might be best until Windows 10 gets its act together.  After the removal, he cautioned, “They’re off now, but might come back”. Sure enough, later that evening …

Thus far, I’ve been able to circumvent this, but eventually I imagine the updates will circumvent my circumventing.
At least I’ve got a backup laptop to tide me over should things go south again, but now the television is failing. Turn it off at night and it takes 20/30 minutes to power up in the morning before the picture appears on the screen.
It’s been doing that for a while now, but requiring only 10 minutes for the hard drive to power up. Now up to 30 minutes is signaling the TV is on its last leg so, while at Big Box picking up, I ordered a new one, to be delivered and set up on Thursday. Nothing fancy, just a simple no frills easy to operate – or so I requested and was told.
So, though I’ll never buy another computer from Big Box, because of that long wait to check-in for repair, I have no choice but to give them my television business because I can’t get one upstairs on my own and have no confidence I can do a proper setup.
So here I am holding my breath, hoping the updates don't freeze the laptop again, hoping my old TV hangs on until the new one arrives, hoping the new TV gives me no grief, and hoping for an end to technological snafus so I can relax and exhale.
At least the A/C situation has been resolved, even though A/C is not now needed.
The weather was so nice Saturday that, heading to Big Box to pick-up the laptop, I drove the scenic street route. About a block away from the site of the original McDonald’s, now a museum, I saw smoke.
Oh No, thought I. It’s on fire!
The smoke turned out to be a BBQ Pit. A banner indicated it was an event in celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the fast food chain.
Since it’s McDonalds, I’m assuming it was burgers on the grill.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Done and Done

Woke up Wednesday to a nonfunctioning laptop.
Guess the laptop’s feelings were hurt when I blogged a day or so previously that I didn’t much care for it.
Actually though, when I logged out the night before, Windows did its automatic update thing. Next morning, the laptop would not boot up.
Good job with those updates Windows People.
Off I went to the Big Box store, arriving at 9:30 to see if they could get the laptop working.
Too early.
Too anxious.
Big Box wasn’t to open until 10, so I drove around looking for a Starbucks in vain because the GPS kept leading me in loops and once to a dead end street.
Arriving back at Big Box 10:00 sharp – coffee less, I get in line for Nerd Support and got scheduled an 11:00 appointment – a one hour wait.
That’s new.
Use to be you got in line, walked up to a Nerd in a row of Nerds when called; the Nerd fixed the issue on-the-spot or logged the laptop in for service, two/three days later you got a call to pick up.
Quick, fast, organized.
Did not like this new procedure, and I wasn’t the only customer to voice dislike.
At any rate, 11:00 came and went. Just when I was considering walking out, I was called up to the one Nerd girl manning the Service side. (There were two manning the Return side).
Big Box is beginning to look a lot like Circuit City did just before it went under.
The Nerd girl typed in my laptop problem, logged the laptop in for service, said I’ll get a call to pick up in 2/3 days.
I waited 1-1/2 hours for a 5-minute check-in?
Makes no sense, and I said so.
During the hour and a half of waiting, I did look at other computers. Didn’t see anything I liked and – with the new appointment procedure to check-in, I wouldn’t buy another from Big Box. In fact, I saw that even folks purchasing new puters weren’t able to check them in for the usual setup. They were told they too would have to wait hours for an appointment.
Returning to the complex with a headache, feeling aggravated and pretty well done with poor customer service, having already decided to bypass the next day's Residents’/Management meeting in lieu of going directly to Corporate Boss Lady -- because Head Maintenance Guy was just gonna make excuses in the meeting and lie anyway, I asked the residents who are generally on top of things if any of them had Corporate Boss Lady’s email address – (Before the laptop became inoperable, I’d researched the company’s website but did not find her contact info).
No one had it so I had to show my cards ... I texted Community Manager asking if she could provide that info.
I didn’t say why I was asking, but obviously she had an inkling the manure was about to hit the fan because I could feel her panic coming through the air.
She did not reply. However, less than an hour later, Head Maintenance Guy knocked on my door to say an A/C Guy from a company other than the company originally contacted would be here the following day.
So that was my Wednesday.
On Thursday, an A/C technician arrived at 12 noon. Twenty minutes later, the A/C was operating – no parts necessary.
The A/C Guy said he didn’t know why Maintenance Guy didn’t call him in the first place, as he does repairs for the company and wasn’t going to charge near as much as the outside company that said the entire unit had to be replaced -- when it didn’t. I said it was because Maintenance Guy wasn’t the motivated type and didn’t get motivated until he realized I was about to involve his boss at Corporate.
This obviously not being A/C Guy’s first rodeo with Maintenance Guy, he nodded agreement with the description of his being “unmotivated” and began to laugh, and laughed even harder as he said, “He’s afraid of you now. He was too afraid to escort me up here. He asked T____ (our other Maintenance Guy) if he’d do it”.
That’s hilarious, but more likely, rather than afraid, he's too ashamed for jacking me around to face me.
“Well, tell him don’t be too afraid to come get his portable A/C’s”, said I.
Enjoying the intrigue, A/C Guy was still laughing when he said, “I’ll tell him, but he’ll probably send T___ by himself”.
Then there’s Equifax.
Last two years I requested an annual, they denied me online because some of their data did not match my reality. Instead, I was sent a form request to fill out in order to prove I am who I say I am. But then they have no problem putting me in jeopardy with this breach – essentially giving data away to not me.
Lastly, the laptop is still in the shop.
So how are you posting you ask?
After a 19 day wait for A/C repair and an hour and a half wait to check the laptop into Big Box, I’m done with waiting. After A/C Guy left, I headed to Costco and picked up a new laptop. It’s a brand that has an iffy reputation, but I like it -- and I like it way better than the HP. Besides, no computer is ever going to last as long or live up to that Sony Vaio.
I was thinking of giving the HP to Grandbaby, but have since learned my flash drives do not fit this new laptop.
Why does everything have to be so complicated?
Looks like I’ll have to make room on my station for two laptops. At least when one is in the shop, I’ll have the other to work with.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Liar, Liar

Took a break from scrapbooking and the latest needlepoint project to head down to the office to pick up a new parking sticker. Management is revamping assigned parking to put folks closer to the building in which they reside, and residents of each building had an assigned day to learn of their new spot and pick up a parking sticker.
Today was the pick-up date for those in my building.
On the way out, ran into Next Door Neighbor returning from getting her sticker, and very happy was she. She’s got a sweet handicapped spot in the carport directly across from the end of the walkway.
I’d noticed before that she always parked in a handicapped spot, but don’t know the nature of her disability. It’s not anything visibly obvious, she’s never mentioned a disability, and I’ve never asked.
At any rate, my spot is exactly 100 steps from my front door, and though that sounds like a lot, it’s not actually, when you consider I've got stairs and a roundabout walkway in the mix -- and yes I've counted as I include those steps in my fitness routine.
I like the spot and I’d made it clear to management when all this revamping was announced, and on multiple subsequent occasions that “you’d better not move me”.
They didn’t.
I’m still good.
Not so much with Day 17 of no A/C and, with cooler weather, the inability to open the windows to let in fresh air because the portable A/C's are blocking access, and there’s been no word from management.
So, while in the office, I asked, “Have you people forgotten about me? It is now 17 days with no A/C”.
The Community Manager’s face took on a deer-in-the-headlights look.
I’m beginning to really worry about her. She looks frightened, helpless, pitiful.
The Head Maintenance Guy took over and said, “I’ve been calling the guy. He keeps saying he’ll get back to me then he doesn’t, but you’ve got the portable A/C's.”
He can’t possibly be rationalizing my having portable A/C's as being an excuse and end to the problem, thought I.
“Yes, they’re making the situation bearable, but the A/C needs to be fixed. If I were a weaker senior, I’d be dead already.”
That’s me pulling the age card.
“Well, I’ll call him again and, if he doesn’t respond, I’ll call someone else.”
“I should hope so.”
Popping into the Community Room, seeing it was somewhat chaotic because today is Pizza Tuesday and Activity Director was not coordinating the event, I sat down, observed for a while and chatted with The Seer.
When I told her the Head Maintenance Guy said he’d been calling the guy, she blurted out, “That’s a lie. He’s lying to you. He’s done no such thing. He hasn't called anyone.”
All of a sudden, a light went on and I knew she was absolutely correct.
That’s why I call her The Seer, because she seems to see things coming before they happen and has the ability to see through BS when it’s happening.
The Head Maintenance Guy is the young fellow I’ve described in previous blogs as being lazy, slow and unmotivated, so of course I should have known he’d dropped the ball and done nothing.
I personally cannot abide a liar, so it’s time for me to go nuclear.
We’re having a Residents/Management meeting this Thursday and, after the fiasco of the last meeting -- declaring I’d never attend another, I’m taking that declaration back, plan to attend and put the lack of resolution of the A/C on blast.
Hopefully our Community Manager and Assistant Manager can cowgirl up and attend this time but, even if they don’t, I’ll put whoever does show up on the hot seat.
No resolution after that, and I’ll contact their direct supervisor at Corporate.
Office staff does not like the Corporate Boss Lady, they're all afraid of her, but oh well.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Map My Escape

Watching all the devastation in Mexico, Texas and now Florida, I began rethinking the escape plan I’d come up with, back in July of last year, when the area was ablaze with fires.
I’d decided that, should there be an evacuation situation – and there had been one two years before I moved in when a fire on little mountain resulted in evacuation of this senior complex and the multi-family complex next door, that I’d load the car only with that which was important and that which personally mattered most to me:
1.        Cell phone and charger
2.       Fanny pack, with driver’s license, credit cards
3.       Important papers, such as social security/medicare card, title to car
4.       Creative Memory photo albums
5.       Laptop
That list is still valid, except I wouldn’t worry too much about the laptop because the Sony Vaio I had at the time died, has been replaced with a HP Envy, and I’m not as attached to the HP as I was to the Vaio, and would welcome the HPs demise, so I could try again with a different brand.
Not that there’s anything technically wrong with it. I just don’t care much for it.
At any rate, just in case I wouldn’t have time to save my fourteen Creative Memory Albums, seeing all the water damage from the floods and hurricanes, I began looking online into waterproof/fireproof safes that I could use as furniture and keep the albums safe from whatever comes our way.
Even if it’s an earthquake, I felt the albums would be safe and secure in a safe under piles of rubble.
Not seeing anything online that could be used multi-functionally as furniture, and anything that wasn’t either too small or too large, I began thinking --- What’s the quickest way to get those heavy albums down to the car and have decided one of those grocery carts I see the seniors using would work.
I could set it at the bottom of the stairs, run up/down the stairs loading the albums, then push the cart to the car and unload.
Next part of the plan, and not addressed last time, was where to go.
If there weren't so many creeps and criminals in the world, just looking for victims, I could live in the car. That not being a safe bet, a hotel in Long Beach would be okay, but Long Beach is too close to water and, if California is destined to fall into the sea, as some alarmist have prophesized, that’s not where I want to be.
I’m thinking further inland -- a hotel in Palm Springs or Nevada until I get the all clear. But I don't know. More planning to be done.
Made contact with the Writer of Christian Literature this morning – the resident who recently relocated back to Florida.
She’s safe and in an area that’s only getting “heavy rain”.
When I mentioned she’d picked the worst possible time to move back to Florida, she said, “I miscalculated. I thought the hurricane season had passed”.
She left all this sunshine to move back to an area she knew had a hurricane season?
I can’t imagine. I’d rather take my chances with fires and earthquakes.
Oh, and by the way, today is Day 14 of no A/C.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Survey Says

Arriving back at the complex yesterday, after a relaxing mani/pedi in the spa chair, I opened email to find a communique from that financial institution where Loss Prevention Raul had given me such a hard time.
“We are sorry to see that you’ve closed your membership at _________, but would love to learn from your experience so we can improve. Your thoughts are extremely valuable to us, so we have contracted with _______________ to conduct a survey on our behalf. It should take less than five minutes to complete.”
Well that’s good news. I had no idea I’d have an opportunity to rate Wednesday’s unpleasant experience. I wonder if Raul’s out-of-control ego ever considered there might be some blowback to his unreasonableness. That, instead of continuing to fax him documents, and wait until he returned from lunch, I'd lose my patience and close the account.
What led to your decision to close your ________ account?
I came in to open a checking to go with an existing savings account. However, due to the unreasonable actions of Loss Prevention Raul, I found it less stressful to not only NOT open a checking but to close the existing account.
What could _________ have done to improve your experience as a member?
Put a leash on Raul. The manager and young lady assisting me went out-of-their-way to be helpful, but Loss Prevention Raul blocked everything they tried to do THEN left us hanging by heading out for lunch.
How likely are you to recommend ________ to a colleague or a friend?
Not at all Likely.
So that’s a wrap and, if the incident was a Cosmic test, I think I did well because I never let my frustration knock me off center.
If this no A/C is a test, I’m passing that test as well. However, I’m not sure I’d have made it this far in (12 days) without losing my religion if the heatwave hadn’t finally come to an end.
Glancing at the clock on the computer this morning, it suddenly hit me what day this is.

I almost missed acknowledging the occasion.
Formerly a workaholic, I don’t miss working … not at all.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Nightmare in Customer Service

Today was a day I’d like to forget. Not because it is now eleven days with no A/C and no word from management as to when the issue will be resolved. I’m at the point now where I almost don't care any longer, and have no intention of continuing to run management down for information. After all, it took 73 days before they handled the swarming termites.
Of course, that was back when the mean incompetent Nurse Ratched was the Community Manager. Problem with the current Community Manager is she’s so obsessed with her personal problems that she is no longer handling business properly. More and more I'm hearing from residents that she's falling down on her responsibilities. That, when they go to her with an issue to be solved, she turns the conversation to her medical issues, her spiraling weight, her thyroid, that she has five children to raise AND, as I recently learned, is having to work a second (part-time) job. Folks are saying it's time for her to find a less demanding position.
The thought of relocating has once again entered my mind, but I like living here and there are currently too many advantages for me to consider moving elsewhere.
So, though this A/C thing is annoying, I keep reminding myself that there’s a Cosmic reason for everything and patiently wait.
And that’s what I said to myself today, after a two-and-a-half-hour nightmare at the new financial institution.
Because of all the negative press about the financial institution I’ve been with for 45 years, I decided to sever that relationship and, on August 8, began a new relationship elsewhere with an electronic transfer into a savings account, and thought no more about it until a few days ago when there was more negative press about the institution I’ve been with for 45 years.
It was then I decided I’d better also begin phasing a checking account into the new relationship.
Arriving at the new financial institution, I was informed I couldn’t open a checking account, or anything else, because Loss Prevention had put a warning on the electronic transfer, and that I needed documentation to show the electronic transfer had come from an account with my name on it. Now remember, the new account has been open since August 8 and this is the first I'm hearing of their not trusting an electronic transfer.
Not believing what I'm hearing, I say “What do you mean? It’s not like I’m taking money out, I’m putting money in. And I told you people when I opened the account why I was doing so, gave you a few bucks to open it, but said a electronic transfer would follow that same day.”
Didn’t matter, Raul in Loss Prevention said he needs proof it’s from an account with your name on it.
“I don’t understand. It’s from one bank to another, so where else would it come from, who else’s account would it be?”
After considerable back and forth, including my saying"Raul evidently doesn't have enough real work to do", I relented. And, fortunately, had the folder with me that contained banking information, including all the paperwork on the electronic transfer, which the customer service person assisting me faxed to Raul.
Then we waited for him to release the warning so we could move on to opening a checking account.
After considerable wait time, we received word, the faxed documents were not sufficient documentation. That Raul wanted further proof and had gone to lunch.
I asked for the manager and filed a complaint “How dare he go to lunch while I’m waiting for this to be resolved.”
The manager got ahold of someone else in Loss Prevention, but it was the same story … show us proof the money came from an account with your name on it.
I pulled out a copy of my account summary which showed where the money came from.
“That’s not enough. We need proof it's your account -- a summary with your name on it”.
In my mind I said, “F you people”, but what came out of my mouth was, “No! I’ve given you people enough documentation. I’m not giving you anything else. I’m done. Send the money back to the institution from whence it came.”
Afraid of electronic transfers at this point, I asked for a cashier’s check.
Would you believe, in order to get a cashier’s check to redeposit in the financial institution I was trying to divorce, I still had to log onto a courtesy computer, print out an account summary that showed my name so they could remove Raul’s warning.
There’s a Cosmic reason for everything.
So now I’m waiting to see what pearl is at the end of the A/C thing (maybe that cute A/C guy will come back with a single brother) and why the Universe led me away from the new financial institution and back to where I was.
I spent the remainder of the day trying to push the earlier frustration out of my head. It’s still with me, so maybe a trip to the spa chair tomorrow, while the nail technicians perform their magic on my feet and fingernails, will make the memory of today, and that idiot Raul, fade into the past.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Pizza with a Side of Zumba

Intel tells me Labor Day's End of Summer BBQ was a major success. The room was packed, the patio area packed, residents brought side dishes to where there was so much food that seniors had to take plates home.
Funny how it is that when a few seniors come up with an event on their own, it’s usually a major success. However, when the paid Activity Director comes up with an event, it’s chaos, not always a success and sometimes doesn’t happen at all.
At any rate, after taking a two-week hiatus from the folks, feeling fully recharged (even though I’ve been without A/C for nine days), I headed down to the Community Room this morning to watch Pizza Tuesday and wait for the Zumba instructor.
It was a good day to be in the Community Room because, in a food coma from yesterday’s BBQ, few residents were in the Community Room. Rather than loud, raucous, multiple conversations simultaneously going on, it was quite peaceful.
Probably most had forgotten today was more food for them.
Since there were so few folks, Activity Director didn’t have to do her calm the wild beasts thing. She just put product on the table and told folks to take as much as they wanted.
Some commented that, with yesterday and today, they wouldn’t have to go grocery shopping for a week.
Of course, Old Guy eventually showed up, but minded his Ps and Qs because he’d been told directly by the new President of the Residents Volunteer Activity Committee, “Look, you can’t be putting your hands all over everyone’s food”.
Old Guy likes to act like he only speaks and understands his country’s language, which I don’t remember what that is, but he got the message. He did still open containers, but didn’t stick his had inside. Especially since the new President was standing over his shoulder with a mean you-better-behave look on her face.
And, yes, there's a new President on the RVA Committee. There was no voting, Older Sister just stepped up and said she wanted to take Next Door Neighbor's former position.
With the success of the BBQ, looks like so far so good.
Even though I was a Zumba Fitness Fanatic for four years, five years ago, today’s Zumba session was tough. I began wearing down at the 30-minute mark and cried out, “How long is this class?”
“One hour”, said the instructor.
“That’s too long”, I whined.
The instructor was fantastic and brought it down to a level us seniors could safely handle, without throwing out our knees and hips, but I felt a little bad for the others trying to follow the steps because, if you had no prior experience, the steps were difficult to follow.

There was only four of us actually working out, while ten/twelve, wanting to see what it was all about, sat around watching.
Actually, five of us, when you count the 90-something resident, in the background, who had a ball doing what she could do from her chair -- kicking her legs, raising her arms.

Which tells me it's something the wheelchair bound residents can also do.
By the end of the session, the observers were talking about getting involved next time. Which I hope they do because, if we don’t get enough residents to sign up, Zumba will not continue.