Monday, November 23, 2009

The Derek-bot Strikes Back

Follow up to this entry.

I didn't know he had it in him.  But I should have suspected all along.  Those $50 credit forms that he promised arrived rather quickly.  I know now that it was just a ploy to distract my attention.

I have two Citibank credit cards.  While I was calling to cancel one of them, I also had to make a payment over the phone for the other one.  They had issued a new card and number because of some security breach on their end. This is the second time they have done this.  Just another example of their twisted mind games, I'm sure.  So my online account access was limited and I could not make my payment online as I usually do.

Derek was more than happy to take care of that payment for me.  I could hear the smile in his voice.  I gave him the required routing number and account number from my check.  He read me the canned blurb from their payment script - "You authorize Citibank to make a payment in the amount of blah, blah, blah....."  I gave him my verbal consent and then we were on to other matters. 

I had spoken with the Derek-bot on a Sunday.  My payment was due on a Monday. On Wednesday I checked my account.  No payment was made and it now showed that I was late.

Well done, sir.

It was surprisingly easy to remedy.  I was ready to go into full battle mode. I had my cape and bullet-proof bracelets, Derek-bot's ID number, and the date and time of call in hand.  But it wasn't necessary.  I called and talked to Citibank's Amanda-bot and she was able to make the payment for me and change my grace period so that the payment did not record as late.

Of course, they couldn't just let it go at that.  My next statement arrived and it contains a line item that says "Late Payment - Fee Not Charged" with an amount of $0.00.  The Citibank version of a severed horse head in my bed.

Oh, I get your message, Citibank.  Don't you worry.  Enjoy your brief victory.  As I have said before...this is not over...

This is a PG version of the horse head in bed scene from The Godfather movie. 
I promise, it isn't scary or gross.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Not so perfect me

Immediately after I wrote my last entry, I thought to myself that it sounded a little arrogant. As if I were saying that I can do anything. That is not what I meant at all.  I am in touch with the reality that there are lots of things I can’t do.   My last post was more about my overall positive outlook on trying new things. And my sometimes naive idea that nothing bad will happen.  So to even out the cosmic blog karma, here's a list of things I am not good at.


Do people even call it that anymore? I could never pull off that kind of exercise class where your arms and legs had to do something different at the same time. To be truthful, I couldn’t even manage getting my legs to do the right steps. Lift, step, kick, step back, lift.  I couldn't follow and was probably as graceful as a cow in high heels.

I believe it has to do with thinking.  I'm fine with coordinating my limbs to jump up and hit a volleyball (which I used to be very good at.)  But that is mindless action.  I'm not thinking about what to do with my left leg or how to position my right arm.  I'm just doing.  The aerobics classes required me to think too much about how I was moving and my body wanted nothing to do with that.  My body is smart sometimes.  I should listen to it more.


I am WAY to practical and detail-oriented to ever be successful at selling. If I were trying to sell a bottle of water to a guy who had just emerged from twenty days in the desert, I’d bore him to death with the mundane facts about the water bottle and make sure he knew all of the issues facing him should he choose to make the purchase.  And if it didn’t seem like a good idea for them to buy it, I’d probably tell them that too.  He'd wander back into the desert - still thirsty - just to escape my pathetic sales pitch.


Not that I have ever tried this but I am pretty sure I could never do it. I’m a little bit claustrophobic, so the idea of squeezing myself through small passages in cold, wet caves makes me very, very nervous.  I used to read Outside magazine and there were stories of extreme cave explorers that fascinated and horrified me at the same time.  They wouldn't just explore caves by walking and crawling around them like normal lunatics.  They would go diving with specially-made rebreathing scuba gear into deep, unknown, water-filled caverns.  They needed the rebreathing gear because it allowed them to stay underwater for much longer periods of time - because they had NO IDEA where any of the caves would lead, or how long they would have to be underwater.  I shudder just thinking about it.  Here's a link to a story about that from 1996 if you want to freak yourself out.

Being myself

This should be an easy one, right?  Who else would I be?  But I have always had a hard time sharing myself - my true and real self - with others.  At some point when I was growing up, I seemed to get it in my head that my role in life was to be the good girl who never rocked the boat.  I was incredibly adept at hiding what I was really thinking or feeling.  I was an expert level pretender.  We are talking first round draft pick material, people.  If they had an Olympic event for it, I would have been looking like Micheal Phelps with stacks of medals hanging off my chest (or Mark Spitz, if that's your era.)  It became so ingrained in my personality that I really and truly did not even KNOW what I was feeling most of the time.  I took my cues from everyone around me and did my best to be what I thought everyone wanted me to be.

That is one of the reasons I struggled so much in college.  Up until that point, my world had been a place where I knew my role and was pretty damn good at it.  When I went off to college, suddenly no one was around to tell me who I was supposed to be.  I was so used to defining myself by the expectations of others, I had no idea what I really felt or wanted.  I was lost.

In the twenty years since then I've managed figure some things out and I am pretty confident about who I am.  But I still struggle to show myself to people.  I seem to have the most trouble with people I am closest to.  On most days, I could not care less what strangers think of me.  But I still find myself feeling like I have to meet some expectation with people closest to me.  Always be okay.  Always be fine.  Always be good.  Even when I feel like total shit.  I know that it is something I do to myself and I am working on changing it.

This blog has helped.  I am better at expressing myself in writing than I ever am in person.  And I can write something revealing or difficult and then shut off the computer and go dive under the covers and hide.  Time to take cover.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Forklift Friday

It was forklift Friday for me today. I am most definitely an office worker, but in a small company there are times that you do whatever needs to get done.  On Fridays, I'm the only one here who knows how to drive the forklift. That is not a picture of our forklift.  The one in the picture is way cooler looking than ours.  Looks like you could go off road with that bad boy.

Today was an interesting challenge - find the one crate out of thirty-two on the pallet rack and take it down, all while maneuvering in a very tight space because the guys had left a whole bunch of stuff crowding the shelves in the warehouse. It would boring to explain it, but let's just say that it would have made a good YouTube video. The one where they play goofy circus music while you watch the dummy on the forklift - move forward, back up, move forward, back up, turn too far, pull the pallet halfway out, push it back in, move forward, back up, pull the lift up too fast and dent the shelf above, back up, move forward, turn too far, etc. There were also various scraping noises involved.  I did successfully get the 400 pound crate on the ground and nobody was killed.

The next task was to try to put the crate in the back of a guy's SUV.  Ha!  He did not witness the previous forklift episode, but I showed him the dented shelf and told him that was my handiwork.  But I was the only one here and if he wanted to try it, I was his only choice.  He was a risk-taker. We tried it.  It actually went well - no scraping or denting this time.  It just wasn't possible to do it without crushing the back door of his SUV. We jointly decided against that.

There was almost a third opportunity to drive the forklift today because we had a truck come to pick up two outgoing crate shipments. But I decided not to push my luck and let the truck driver do it.  I'm actually not a bad forklift driver. The pallet rack incident was the first time I felt stupid.

So how do I know how to drive a forklift?  Just had one of the guys show me - on-off, forward-backward, up-down. Not that hard.

I have always had a good amount of what you might call blind confidence.  I just never think that there is any reason I couldn't do something.  And if there are doubts, I have the ability to act like I know what I am doing, at least until I really figure it out.  I can't say that this has led to an exciting life full of daring escapades or stupid risks.  It just leads to things like trying to juggle eggs in Beth's kitchen when I was a kid.  I was sure I could do it!

Or driving from Boston to LA by myself in a borrowed car in five days when I was 24.  Stopped at the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and the Grand Canyon.  The rest of it was just highways and motels. How could anything possibly have gone wrong there? (And nothing did!)

In college, driving the church van by myself in New York City to pick up the local disadvantaged youth and bring them to Sunday school. Going in to seedy looking apartment buildings to get them if they weren't waiting outside (even though the priest told me not to.)  I wasn't going to just leave them. How could anything bad have happened?  (Nothing ever did.)

Going into a crack house and watching a woman who was overdosing have seizures while I was training to be an EMT in New York City.  In this case, I wasn't actually required to do anything.  I was just riding along as part of the training.  How could I not pull that off?

Moving to California in my early twenties with no money, no job, using credit cards for everything and having only a friend's living room to sleep in.  How could that NOT be a recipe for success?  It all worked out exceptionally well.  Found a great job that made me an imaginary millionaire for a brief time.  Found a beautiful, rent-controlled apartment right in San Francisco and lived there for eight years.

Okay, maybe I have done some stupid things.  Now that I really start to think about it, there were plenty of stupid, risky things I have done based on my blind confidence that nothing bad could happen.  So I must be blessed or watched over by guardian angels.  I am grateful for that. They haven't had to work too hard lately.  My life has been relatively sedate these past years.

But you never know.  If I find myself in Beth's kitchen again, I might have to try that egg juggling trick just one more time.  I know I can do it!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Because I am from New England, I was watching the results of the vote on gay marriage going on in Maine.  From the title of this post you can probably tell how I feel about the results.

Last year, I wrote about my disappointment with the outcome of Prop 8 here in California.

Most of my links from that earlier post don't seem to work anymore, but here's a new one: 

The man who ran the campaign in California also ran Maine's Yes on 1 campaign.  I think it is a shame that they used the same tactic of misleading people about how the law would impact what was taught to our vulnerable, innocent children in schools.   Lying stinks.  Let's teach that to our children.

You know what I hope that they are teaching in our schools?  Civility and basic human decency.  You can't make fun of Johnny because he has two Moms.  You can't pick on Jenny because she likes to play with trucks.  Some people don't look just like you.  Some people don't act or think just like you.  They deserve your respect and you should treat them with kindness.  If they are reading a book about how different families look, that is what they are teaching.