July 29, 2006

It's all about priorities

"We French are not as fiendish about finding shortcuts as Americans are. Perhaps it is why we are no longer a great world power, but the trade-off is that we are not fat."

- Mireille Guiliano
French Women Don't Get Fat

July 12, 2006

adventures in dog-sitting

In a world where there are cat-people and dog-people, I am the latter-people. I love dogs, but my present living situation is not conducive to nurturing a loving canine relationship. So what's a dog-loving girl to do? She loves other people's dogs when they are out of town. No, I am not a dog-stalker. I am a dog-sitter. I don't lie in wait under the backyard deck waiting to hear the garage door open and close, and then rush the backdoor for a glimpse, yeh, a rendez-vous with another families' dog. No (even though that probably sounded creepily possible), people actually pay me to watch, water, and walk their dogs while they skip town to do things like Nascar races, in-law visiting, summer vaca and the such. Be not misinformed, this is not my full-time job. It's not even a hobby. I like to think of it as my personal service to the dogs of the world and their families. I would do it for free, but they keep paying me.
My latest gig was sweet. I got to stay in the couples' beautiful home for the weekend, and play with Sierra (a yellow lab) and Ali (a black cat), water the plants, take out the garbage, and secure Sunday paper back from non-subscribing neighbors. 'Erego the highlights:
Friday night after work I arrive at client's home. The first thing I do is feed Sierra because she is sure to be hungry. I forget how much client told me to feed her, so I ration out three scoops and serve dinner. Next I find the Dog-Sitter-Do list on the kitchen counter. #1 reads: Feed Sierra 1 1/2 scoops in the morning and at night. Great. I have already gotten her off schedule. I have fed her twice as much as she usually gets. So what will naturally follow?? Twice as much.... Anyways, you get it.
Skip-to, later that night I come home from the movies. I immediately take Sierra out back to do you-know-what, at twice-the-you-know-what-quantity. I turn the handle and think, "oops, I must have left the back door unlocked..." Quick turn of the thumb and forefinger, open, shut the door behind us. Five minutes later. Turn the knob, knob won't turn, knob is acting like it's locked, silly knob... stop that! Be serious knob and open the door....um...knob? I think it's LOCKED! What???? Noooo, not possible!!! Ok, so we're locked out of the house...hmm...it's 10:30 pm....what..to..do...? Camp out? No....that's ridiculous. I must make contact with neighbors. Neighbors will help....
10:32, I am at the doorstep of Neighbors Mark & Amy. Mark, whom I've never met, opens the door, sees me with Sierra, and immediately says, "Are you locked out?" I am relieved. "YES! How did you know?"
"Their last babysitter did the same thing."
"No way!"
"Way."
"So...what do we do?" (surely he has a key...)
"I don't have a key."
"oh." (confidence & relief fading)
"I can try to put a credit card through the door!"
"um, ok - will that work?"
"Sure! Let's go!"
10:41, Mark is at the back door, credit card in hand, saying "I don't know if this is going to work."
10:42, "It worked!"
Insert prayer of praise and thanks: God is good, is good all the time.
"No way! Thanks Mark! You are my brand-new hero!"
**Mark blushes**He's a bashful hero**

Other adventures that later ensue:
Saturday, 6:02 am: Sierra must needs to go potty because she is whining like a hyena.
6:10 am, I am back in bed, and Sierra is mad because she thought we were gonna play.
8:30 am, I am back up, ready to play.
10:30 am, Sierra and I set out to conquer the neighborhood on foot. She has already pooped, so I figure "we're good." Sierra proceeds to poop in the common area near the scenic gazebo where all-American family is celebrating child-birthday. "Sierra!!! Nooooo........! ohh...too late. Hmm..let's run away real fast......."

Sunday, 12:45 pm, car battery dies.
2:35 pm, car battery is replaced and all is well. Sierra never even knew...

Monday, 6:04 am, Sierra gets 1 1/2 scoops for breakfast. Un-saavy dog-sitter leaves pantry door open. Un-saavy dog-sitter turns her back to make coffee and hears strange noices coming from dog. I turn around to find Sierra helping herself to more food. She digs her nose up under the lid just enough to get a mouthful of food, and then runs away to the other side of the room to eat it! And then she runs back, and does it again! And again!
Silly Sierra....:)

Oh yeah, there was a cat there too. She is a nice cat, but fairly self-sufficient and didn't really care if I was there or not, just fill my bowl dang-it!

There were some other snafoos involving the garage door opener, but we're not going to go into that.

Not a bad weekend for a couple extra bucks.

Next week is a pending gig. Some sick foster cats. This is unchartered territory. I may need to cancel...don't know if I'm ready for this.

End of July-gig is Candy. She was my first gig. Awwww... memories.

Maybe I'll start my own business.

Maybe not.

Until I decide, I take referrals. Low rates, superior service. Nobody loves your dog like me.
...hey that's good...in that non-stalker kind of way, of course.

July 02, 2006

signs

A few months ago I was stopped at a red light on White Bridge Road. I looked to my left and read the Walgreens marquee that advertises daily specials. It said this:
Chicken Poop $2.99
It's all true. Although I was alone in my car, unable to share this hysterical mystery with anyone save the strangers in their cars surrounding me, I laughed out loud anyways. I immediately thought that some punk high school kid making minimum wage at Walgreens intentionally sabotaged the marquee in order to 1) get fired because he hated his boss and 2) wanted to humiliate his boss by making him publicly remove a sign that his punk ex-employee put up. When I heard the real story, I felt remorse, yet surprisingly pleased, at my ability to make up such detailed imaginary incident. Two days later this sign made the local evening news. The explanation was much better than my fantasy. Chicken Poop turned out to be chap stick. $2.99 chap stick. The woman who invented and marketed it grew up on a farm and named it after her father's wise words: "When you have chapped lips the best thing to put on them is chicken poop. That way you won't lick your lips!"

Today I passed an advertisement for Shoney's. It said "No Lie! Free Pie!" underneath those bold red letters, in smaller, less noticeable letters were the words, "Purchase Required."
For the love...

July 01, 2006

customer service

My job revolves around customer service. Everything I do is for my customers. Every form I complete, every paycheck I cut, every bill I audit, every report I run, is for the convenience of my customers. We have an endearing flaw at work that "we don't know how to say no". We spend 40+ hours each week making sure our clients are happy, satisfied, and coming back for more. I think it's because I work so hard at this, that I recognize instantly when, as a customer, I am getting a bum deal, being lied to, or worse, not being treated like my business matters. From time to time I may feel compelled to write about the unbelievable treatment I recieve as a customer (good or bad). Watch out Nashville, I'm taking names.

Computers Rx Specialists - Franklin Rd, Brentwood
These kids may know how to fix computers (I wouldn't know - they couldn't do anything for mine in 3 weeks), but they definitely have no idea how to treat their customers. I was told I would be called with updates. In the 3 three weeks they had my computer (should have only had it for 3-5 days), they called me once. They gave me the run around, they didn't follow up with their vendors or shippers on parts they ordered, they copied the wrong hard drive "for my convenience" (sorry to the poor local whose personal information was handed over to me out of lack of diligence), they lost my AC adaptor, and near the end, held my laptop hostage when I tried to take it back after 3 weeks of cumulative frustration. Did I mention they had it for 3 weeks? Customers beware!

Computer Renaissance - Bell Road, Nashville
These guys are my heros. Especially J. Scott Maloney, Director of Operations. This is where I should have taken my laptop 3 weeks before. Does anyone want to take a stab at why I didn't take it there in the beginning? Because about 3 years earlier I received poor customer service there. But, being a desparate customer, and a forgiving woman (yes, those are in chronological order) I went back. While these guys ultimately could not fix my computer either, they confirmed the worst - that is was dead - and I respected their professional opinions, because in the less-than-1-week they had my computer, they were able to give me advice based on personal experience with my laptop model, they kept their promises to call with updates, they helped me make an informed decision on a new computer, and ultimately made a no-pressure, no-hassle sale to me on new laptop. I love my new computer, and I am confident that if it ever needs fixing, the guys at Computer Renassaince will hook me up. But that will be another story for another time.

Batteries Plus, Nolensville Road, Nashville
Referred to me by the highly competent and professional guys at Computer Renaissance, I went to Batteries Plus to get a new AC adaptor (see review #1). These guys have a one week return policy, and I was about to spend $90 on something I was most likely going to have to return. Knowing that I may not actually need the adaptor if the laptop could not be fixed, and not feeling confident that I would actually get my laptop back and fixed within one week (see again reveiw #1), they extended my return policy to 2 weeks. Two weeks later, I returned the AC adaptor (see review #2). They didnt' have to do that for me, but they did. I beleive it is because they know how to treat their customers and because they want to build good relationships with all customers so they will see all customers back in their store. That my friends, is good business.

Snappy Auctions, Church Street, Brentwood
This my friends, is an example of bad business: So I took my dead laptop to Snappy Auctions so they could sell all the good parts on Ebay for me. After doing my own homework and finding that Dell Inspiron 1150 parts were selling like hotcakes on Ebay, and also checking the Snappy Auctions website for their hours of operation, I took said dead laptop there on a Saturday morning. According to my calculations they should have been open for a good hour by then. When I pulled up, the sign said Closed - Will be back at 10am. It was 11 am. So I left, went to the YMCA, came back about an hour and half later. Still closed. Not the best sign. "Do I want to do business with a company that is not open when they say they will be" I ask myself. So I call the number. Answering machine says, Thank you for calling Snappy Auctions! We are either busy assisting other customers or closed! Please leave a message and snappy agent will return your call soon.
Against my better judgment, I return with dead laptop on Monday during my lunch break. They are open. I walk in to a small greeting area with 2 computer stations for assisting customers. There is one person there. There are boxes and packing paper, and auction items everywhere. It looks trashy, unorganized, and desparate to be robbed. Sign #2 that this is a bad idea. Sign #3 shortly follows as soon as Snappy employee opens his mouth. "Our computers are down, and have been for the past few days" he says. "But as soon as they are up, which should be this week, I will post your item. You will recieve an email from us when the item is posted so that you can check it's progress; however, I dont' think it's going to sell."
Long story short, 2 weeks pass, no email. I go in to see what's the what. A lady is there, she sees no sign of my item in her system. She takes my name & number and promises the manager will call me tomorrow when he gets in. Tomorrow comes, no call. I call at 5pm. "Hi, you were supposed to call me today". "Oh yeah, I was going to call you, sorry" he says (same guy I spoke to when I left said dead item). He continues, "we're not going to post your item. We dont' think it will sell." I reply, "really - so were you going to call and tell me that anytime soon? You know, you've had it for 2 weeks." "Yes ma'am, I was going to call you tomorrow." "Ok, well I'll be by tomorrow to pick it up." Next day, I walk in, he recognizes me immediately, "I'm sorry, the truth is I just forgot." I say, "You know, I wouldn't have brought it here, if I didn't think it would sell. I saw lots of these things selling on ebay already."
Maybe they were not confident they could sell it, but they should have tried. They should have done a lot of things differently. Not because they did not sell my item, but because of the way I was treated (and forgotten), I am one customer who will NEVER be back in their store. And that is not good for them, because I am also a customer who has lots of things I might have wanted to sell through them, had I been treated like my business mattered.

Sonic, Church Street, Brentwood
Reasons not to eat here:
1) Once they forgot the meat on my hamburger
2) Once they forgot the bananas on my banana split
3) Once they took ten minutes to bring me my drink. (but I did get it if for free)
4) Once they got my drink order wrong and the girl argued with me about it. She brought me something I've never ordered before, I told her I ordered something else. She looked at the ticket and said, "the ticket says you ordered this". I looked at her and said, "the ticket is wrong". She looks at the drink, looks at the ticket, then looks at me all exasperated-like, "so do you want me to bring you the other drink?" I say, "please." I drive away with the drink I ordered, not entirely confident that it stands up to FDA regulations.
5) Once on a really hot summer day I drove in for lunch. I sat in my car, sweating, dry-mouth, stomach growling, getting irritated, waiting longer than it should have taken. By the time she came to my window, she only had my drink and explained she would have to go back for the rest. I'm thinking - that's OK! I would love to at least have my drink while I wait for the rest. She hands me my drink, and then, without giving me a straw, roller-skates away, not in the direction of the kitchen to get my food, but in the opposite direction to deliver someone else's food! Did I mention I had no straw? I can't even finish the story without getting emotional.
6) Different store (Bell Road, Antioch), but I'm going to put it here anyways. Once they brought me a large diet cherry coke with no ice. None. And the banana split I ordered (though this time had bananas) was completely melted. Why would they allow me to order and pay for items that cannot be made properly because their ice machine was down?
*I will add here, much to my own disparagment, that I continue to eat at the Brentwood location. What can I say, it's 1/2 a mile from my office. It may be a crap shoot, but when it's good - its very good!

To be continued...