Saturday, March 21, 2015

ACK! Annoying Telemarketers and Mystery Callers

A politician from a state in the Northeast recently announced her intention to refile a bill aimed at reducing telephone solicitations. Apparently there wasn’t enough interest in the bill when she first proposed it during the last session. Good luck to her in getting it passed this time. I wish a politician would propose something like that here. Unfortunately, in the long run, it probably wouldn’t discourage scammers and other annoying callers.

Last month, I got a phone call from a telemarketer who claimed he was calling on behalf of a legitimate charity. I politely told him I couldn’t take the time to talk right now. He ignored me and went into his spiel. I decided not to be nice and hung up on him. For the past couple of months, I’ve gotten what I suspect are scammer-type phone calls. So although the charity the man mentioned is a legitimate one, the caller might not have been a legitimate representative of that charity.

The telephone was a great invention. However, from what I’ve experienced, telephone sales pitches from strangers generally are beyond annoying. And then there were those phone calls that made me wonder what the heck was going on. When we lived in Arizona, we would pick up calls when we were at home. In 2000, over a period of three or four months, we got an unusual number of hang-up calls that I know weren’t from telemarketers. Maybe several people simply punched in the wrong number, but I really don’t think so.

During that time, we also found mystery messages on our answering machine (I’ve blogged about this previously).We never did find out what those were all about. Maybe we offended a couple of people in 2000, and they decided to annoy the heck out of us. Why do I think that? I guess it’s probably because at least two people left messages asking to speak to Other Half, and one of them asked to speak to me. Oddly enough, no one ever called when we were available to answer the phone.

These days, I usually let the digital answering system screen calls. If no one leaves a message, I know the call wasn’t important. I picked up on the telemarketing call last month because I was expecting a call from someone I wanted to talk to. Unfortunately for me, after telling the telemarketer I was busy, he hung onto the conversation like a piranha fish hangs onto its prospective meal.

I’m convinced that telemarketers are so focused on selling something that they never listen to their "targets." They just hope to wear people down by yakking away faster than an announcer relating the possible side effects of a medical product hawked on TV.

In, I think, 2001, I wrote an essay about telemarketers and published it on the late, but not lamented, Themestream site. Sometime, but not soon, I might revise that essay and publish an updated version on the nonfiction page of my other website.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Show a Little Respect, Customers

Employees who toil at jobs in retail stores and restaurants often leave comments and complaints on a certain online forum. Sadly, sometimes tactless customers point to cashiers, sales associates, or servers and warn their kids, “If you don’t study hard, you’re going to end up like her [or him].”

That’s so rude and disrespectful. It’s nobody’s business if someone chooses to work at a store or restaurant. Some people actually prefer to work at those places. Customers are too quick to assume that the cashier, sales associate, or server isn’t capable of finding a better job.

Yes, it’s true that some individuals might not have the skills to get better jobs. However, many retail and restaurant employees are working their way through college, and that type of employment suits their schedules. And individuals who have retired from successful careers often work at retail jobs because they want to keep active or to supplement their retirement incomes. One woman, who was formerly a hair stylist, recently retired from her job at the cosmetics department of a neighborhood store—at the age of 84.

When I was a cashier/sales associate at Smart Mart, no parent ever pointed to me and told their child, “If you don’t study hard, you’ll end up like her.” Maybe people were just a tad more respectful in that area. Then again, that city was located in a somewhat economically depressed part of the state. Well-paying, full-time jobs were hard to find there.

However, if any parents had pointed me out to their children as an obviously bad example, I would have told them, “I am studying hard, and guess what? I’m on the dean’s list. Furthermore, I’m going to move out of this area and get a better job just as soon as I finish the requirements for my degree.

And I did.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Bus Lines: Ditching the Morning Bus Ride Drama

The bus route that goes by my apartment complex is probably the best one in the entire transit system. I used to ride that bus to Other City around 9:30 a.m. at least once a week. I liked taking the bus, instead of the train, because I had less of a walk to the library.

But I won’t ride that bus in the morning anymore.

Some very needy people board the bus when it reaches a certain stop a few miles from my destination. I’ve learned that those passengers probably have just left a neighborhood homeless shelter or a nearby soup kitchen.

Unfortunately, several of them seem to have mental health or anger management issues. According to a deputy sheriff, many of them are on probation or parole. During almost every trip, at least one of them will become disruptive. Their loud rants and ramblings about politics, the transit system, and whatever else upsets them frequently offend other passengers who can’t pass up the chance to verbally spar with them.

Sometimes these sad individuals verbally attack other passengers whose only offense is asking them to please quiet down. I was brought up to be nice, but there are times when I have to fight the urge to tell them to shut up.

Yes, I do know better. Some of these people are scary.

Other passengers have told me that the transit company is reluctant to ban passengers with a covered disability out of fear of violating ADA regulations. One very rude and disruptive passenger said that she could say or do whatever she wanted to and get away with it. She boasted that the transit company would never ban her from riding the bus because she is disabled and would complain to the ADA.

Apparently the only way disruptive disabled passengers can be banned from riding public transportation is if they physically attack the driver or another passenger.

I feel very sorry for these people whose lives are in shambles. And I realize that they have the right to ride public transportation. But I’ve decided that I just can’t put up with their outbursts any longer. I don’t think that what they seem to believe is their right to freak out during a bus ride supersedes my right to have a safe, reasonably drama-free trip to the library. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Another Mom and Pop Store Out of Business

[Note: This is sort of a rerun. I previously posted about this store, but this post is, obviously, the final one.]

The other day, I decided I needed a few more small plastic containers to house my endless supply of beads. So I took a walk to a nearby discount store. The store was closed. Permanently.

I’m not sure when that happened as I hadn’t been there for a couple of months. Maybe the owners decided not to renew their lease on general principles. Then again, maybe the national discount chain that is currently remodeling a nearby store had something to do with the decision to close the Mom and Pop store.

Although I previously had bought beaucoup small plastic containers and a few other things there, I wasn’t impressed with the place. It was a dark, dusty, disorganized store filled with mostly low quality merchandise. Like the store that will supplant it soon, it wasn’t actually a dollar store. Most of the items sold for more than one dollar. The most expensive item I noticed, a personal cart, was priced around seven dollars.

As I mentioned before, I will always wonder if the store owners thought their customers didn’t deserve a clean, well-organized store.

And as I mentioned before, the store was owned by members of one ethnic group, but the majority of customers were mostly low-income members of another group. During the past two years, I  went there maybe once a month. I usually noticed one or two customers and/or their children trashing the displays, but most customers were respectful of the inventory and the owners. 

Just my opinion, but I think the owners should have made more of an effort to keep the place picked up out of respect for the people who kept them in business for years.

Sorry if I’m perceived by some readers as being insensitive or politically incorrect, but, honestly, I’m not really sad to see that one go.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Next Time, I'll Remember When the Store Opens

One Friday morning not too long ago, I think I inadvertently surprised and, most likely, upset a shop employee. Honestly, I didn’t mean to do it.

I needed one or two inexpensive plastic containers for my beads. I wasn’t sure if the store had opened yet, but I decided to walk down there and find out. What I found were two ladies standing on the sidewalk in front of the store. “Is the store open?” I asked. They frowned, and one of them mumbled something. Uh, oh, they didn’t speak English. Or maybe they just weren’t speaking it to me.

I peeked through the door. The interior looked dark, so I figured the store wasn’t open yet. However, the lighting there is dismal, anyway, so I tugged at the door. Not locked. I pulled it open and saw a shop employee (SE) stacking up toys near the register. She frowned and told me the store didn’t open until 10 a.m. I was ten minutes early. I thought, Hey, if you’re not open, keep the door locked. I started to close the door, but she told me come in.

I walked in, followed by the women who probably just assumed they were included in the invitation. I don’t think SE noticed them standing behind me. She didn’t look happy to see them. I suspect that SE is probably well acquainted with them.

Supposedly, the store is one of those dollar-type places; however, items generally sell for between one and five dollars. Although I’ve found a few good things there (like inexpensive plastic containers), most of the merchandise isn’t the best quality. The displays are drab, dingy, and disorganized. And the place could use a good scrubbing.

The immediate neighborhood is composed of members of one ethnic group who, I would guess, are mostly low income folks. The store owners are members of another ethnic group. I would bet that the owners are not neighborhood residents.

The majority of the store’s customers are neighborhood residents. Every time I shop there, I notice one or two customers and/or their offspring tossing merchandise around or dropping it where it doesn’t belong. Their behavior always reminds me of the several times I worked at retail jobs and seemed to be constantly picking up discarded merchandise and putting it back where it belonged. That was a never-ending job.

I suspect that maybe, just maybe, the owners of the neighborhood store intentionally keep the store drab, dingy, and disorganized. Maybe they think the neighborhood residents wouldn't “appreciate” a clean store. No matter how many times the store was cleaned up,  shoppers would just trash it again, and again, and again.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

NaNoWriMo is Over for 2014

Well, NaNoWriMo is over for another year. This year, I managed to write 52,539 words in 25 days before deciding to call it quits. In 2013, I gave up halfway through the month and wrote only 10,000 words. Guess I had a lot of other things to keep me busy in November 2013. Now I have to focus on revising my NaNoWriMo project and getting back to blogging on a semi-regular basis.


Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Started in the Library, Ended in the Street

Some poor soul with mental health issues recently freaked out in the Oceanside library. Among other things, he overturned a table, prompting security to call for reinforcements. Figuring he was in trouble, the man fled from the library, ran across the street, and plopped down on the curb in front of the petite madeline Bakery and Patisserie (yes, that’s how their sign reads).

I had decided to stop there first before heading to the library. Thanks to a serious need for a caffeine fix, I missed witnessing the man’s outburst. Instead, I sipped coffee and watched as four police officers showed up.

My view of the confrontation was partially obstructed by customers sitting at tables near the window. Although the man didn’t seem belligerent, one of the officers pointed something at him. That move didn't look good. “Is she pointing a gun at him?” I asked a customer sitting near the window.

“No, it’s a Taser.”

The man apparently decided to surrender peacefully, so one of the officers cuffed him and sat him in the back of a cruiser. Then all four officers huddled on the sidewalk and discussed something for what seemed like forever.

I wondered why it took four of them to arrest one man. I can understand why two officers would answer the call because, these days, they never know what they’re going to find.

When I walked over to the library a little later, I noticed an evidence van parked on the side of the building. Hmm. . . .  Did the police confiscate the table?

Hey, you never know.