Sunday, February 24, 2013

Customer Support (or Lack Thereof)

If you are a human being who has interacted with a company, you have experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly of customer service. Until recently, customer support was one of my (many) primary job responsibilities. Honestly though, when working for a company that serves others, customer support is (and should always be) an important job responsibility. Some companies truly seem to care about their customers and will go above and beyond to ensure their happiness and satisfaction, while others seem to exist solely to frustrate you. This blog post will give a few examples of each, based upon my personal experience in the last year or so. We'll start with a few companies who've got it right! :)

THE GOOD
1-800-PET-MEDS
As many of you already know, we had a really bad tick problem several weeks back (which, I am cautiously optimistic to report, has finally been resolved...for now anyway). My dogs were both on K-9 Advantix at the time. I had just ordered another 3-6 month supply ($$) for each dog, plus heartworm meds. When I realized that K-9 Advantix wasn't working, I decided to switch to Revolution, which controls fleas, ticks AND heartworms. I contacted 1-800-PET-MEDS to see if I could at least return the packages that hadn't been opened. Not only did they offer to reimburse me for (and take back) the unopened packages (and even the opened ones) of K-9 Advantix, but they also offered to reimburse me for the unused heartworm meds. They told me that I could donate the boxes that had been opened to Golden Rescue South Florida, after I told them I had worked with them in the past. THAT was awesome.  Plus, they emailed me every few days to check on my dogs. That's what customer support is all about! A++

MUTTS AND JEFF DOG TRAINING
I first met dog trainer Jeff Nelson when we were fostering a Golden mix who absolutely did not get along with Makani. He snapped and growled at Makani all the time. Golden Rescue put me in touch with Jeff, who had just moved down from New York. I drove our foster dog to Jeff's house in Delray and left him with Jeff and his HUGE Rottweiler (feeling very guilty, as this was our first failed foster experience). That foster dog got adopted within days after spending time with Jeff.

A couple months later, Golden Rescue hooked me up with Jeff again when our new foster dog, Simona, needed a little training to learn to stop gnawing on people. This time, he came to our house. Within 10-15 minutes, Jeff had taught us the simplest, most effective, positive techniques for eliminating negative behaviors in dogs. I was completely in awe of him.

When we got Cali, I emailed him just to ask him if his techniques worked with puppies. He emailed me back, asking that I call him because he had too much information to give me in an email. I called him and he spent 20-30 minutes going over puppy training techniques with me, AND told me to contact him any time I had any questions. 

Jeff is awesome. He knows dogs and he loves them. If you ever need a dog trainer, I highly recommend that you contact Jeff Nelson. A++

OMNI HOTELS & RESORTS
I don't really consider myself a hotel snob (I don't have to stay in luxury hotels on every trip), but cleanliness, comfort and good customer service are very important to me. Whenever I plan a vacation, I research the heck out of hotels - not only looking for the best rates, but reading TripAdvisor and Expedia reviews, checking to see when the hotels were built or renovated, etc. When I started traveling for business, I decided to sign up for the loyalty programs with Hilton and Marriott. Our company's National Sales Manager, Bob, has been traveling for business for a long time, so he is very high up in both Hilton's and Marriott's rewards programs (like the Gold or Platinum Level). Since it takes many stays to rise through the rewards programs rankings, I am permanently stuck at the Dirt Level. Every time we traveled, Bob would get a room on like the 25th Floor (sometimes a room that required a special elevator), while I'd be stuck on the 6th Floor. We'd always joke about it as I got on the elevator to take me to my room on the lowly floor. That is, until I discovered the Omni Hotels & Rewards Select Guest Program.

When we attended ISTE in San Diego last summer, we booked rooms at the Omni, which was right across the street from the convention center. A few weeks before our trip, I signed up for the Select Guest Program, which is AMAZING. Not only are Omni hotels gorgeous and clean, but if you are a member of their Select Guest Program, you get perks from...not your 10th or 20th stay...but from your very FIRST stay. Benefits include complimentary laundry pressing service and shoe shine (which I've never taken advantage of), but also  free internet (which costs about $20 per day for), and (my favorite perk) morning beverage service. You just tell them what beverages you'd like and what time you'd like them delivered. It was great to have a fresh pot of coffee and a glass of orange juice delivered to my room every morning. LOVE IT!

Plus, Omni is great about fulfilling customer requests (like room time/location, etc.).  I'll probably never rise above Tin level at Hilton and Marriott, but Omni makes me feel special. Given the choice, I would stay at an Omni Hotel any time! A+

6PM.COM
If you are looking for great shoes like Vans skate shoes or Reef sandals, (or accessories, or clothing...) at fantastic prices, check out 6pm.com. Even better than the prices (and the free shipping!) is their customer service. I ordered a pair of Vans for my son. He wore them for a few days, but said they just didn't feel right. In inspecting them, we discovered that the toe area of one of the shoes had been stitched incorrectly and were pinching his toes. Since he had already worn the shoes, I figured I was S.O.L., but I thought I'd contact 6pm.com anyway. 

Not only did 6pm.com offer to take the shoes back and either exchange them for another pair or issue a full refund, they also sent me a postage paid shipping label to return the defective pair of shoes! :) A+!

Honorable Mention:
PUBLIX ON EAST ATLANTIC BOULEVARD IN POMPANO BEACH
After the dreadful experiences I've had at the Beacon Light Publix (cashiers mumbling (if they speak to you at all), eternally slow service at the deli counter, some of the ugliest cakes I've ever seen at the bakery, and package help (and I use that term very loosely) that either don't even offer to help you out with your groceries or who are overly friendly, expecting you to give them a hug (creeeeeeepy), I have go give an Honorable Mention to the newly renovated Publix in eastern Pompano Beach on Atlantic Boulevard. There have been shopping trips when no less than five employees have greeted me with a SMILE, offering to help me find what I'm looking for. Honestly, all of the employees, from the deli to the produce department to the stock clerks to the cashiers are friendly and pleasant. They really do make "shopping a pleasure". A

Now for...
THE BAD (AND THE UGLY)
HTC/Radio Shack
Ugh. :( Last June, I bought myself a new phone - an HTC EVO 3D 4G from Radio Shack online. I had problems with the phone practically from the time it arrived. It would randomly shut down and reboot itself, sometimes multiple times, sometimes in the middle of the night. Normally, I would just return it, but since I bought it online, Radio Shack could not take the phone back (or exchange it) at the store (which would mean I'd have to be without a phone for several days, maybe weeks). Then, I contacted my carrier, Virgin Mobile, who told me that I could  return the phone to a Virgin Mobile retailer and exchange it (if they carried the phone). It turned out that no Virgin Mobile stores in my area stocked that phone. So, I called the manufacturer of the phone, HTC. They seemed convinced that it was a battery issue, so they offered to send me a new battery (IF I charged $45 to my credit card, which would be reimbursed once they received my old battery). Mind you, this was after paying $300 for a brand new phone that didn't work properly. But, my other alternative was going without a phone, so I ordered the battery. New battery came. Didn't solve the problem. So, I called HTC again and asked if they would replace my phone. I was told they would not replace my phone, but if I wanted to send the phone to their repair center, they would fix it for me and return it in a few weeks. A FEW WEEKS?! Seriously? 

Needless to say, I still have a defective phone. Not only does it still shut down randomly (yesterday alone it shut down at least than seven times and rebooted twice in the middle of the night), I have TWICE completely (and mysteriously) lost my factory-installed contacts and phone dialer apps. When I called HTC, I was instructed to do a factory reset (which wipes everything out), since, if I sent it back to HTC, "that's all they would do anyway." I will never buy an HTC phone again. EVER. D


DELTA
I'm sure you've heard it - Doesn't Even Leave The Airport. OK...with this one, I'll admit, it is not entirely fair to generalize. First of all, there is no airline that I can honestly say I've had a fantastic experience with. Southwest is about the best of the bunch, as you get your first bag free, the planes tend to be newer, the flight crews tend to be friendly and they have those awesome swizzle sticks shaped like little hearts! (Come on, who doesn't love hearts?). But my latest experience with Delta has left a scar for sure. You can read all about, if you wish, it in my last blog post, by clicking here.

To give you a brief synopsis, my "On-Time" flight was 40 minutes late leaving the airport. While in flight, Delta.com informed us that we were going to miss our connection in Atlanta, so we should make alternate plans (which lead to my meltdown). Our alternative ended up being spending the night in ATL and flying out the next afternoon (IF we missed our flight). We landed 10 minutes before our connecting flight was scheduled to leave. After running "The Amazing Race" through the airport, we made our connection, but our luggage did not. After being told our bags would be delivered that night, they did not. When my bag was delivered, it was not my bag - it was Bob's.  

I tried calling Delta to complain, but couldn't get through because of "longer than normal wait times due to Winter Storm Nemo." I tried finding a customer service email address or a place to submit feedback on their website. Guess what...it doesn't exist. I wonder why? In searching the internet for customer satisfaction ratings, looks like Delta earned a 63%. Clearly, I am not the only person who feels this way about Delta. Several websites and Facebook pages have been set up by other disgruntled customers. A couple of examples include: Deltareallysucks.com and the IHateDeltaAirlines Facebook page. Given the choice, I'll stick with Southwest, thank you. I agree with the general consensus - D-
COMCAST
Image from memegenerator.net
Ugh (again). I LOATHE Comcast. We signed up for Xfinity cable/phone/internet service about five years ago when a guy came to our door and gave a great sales pitch - $99 a month for all three. It was $99 a month for a LITTLE while, but, over the course of five years, the price climbed to nearly $200 a month (for pretty much basic cable, phone and internet). Our package included no premium channels and although the internet was fast WHEN IT WAS WORKING, it went down almost daily and I would have to reboot my router to get reconnected. I called numerous times, only to be told that "they were not showing any trouble in my area, and I just needed to reboot the router." After years of this, my husband tried to call Comcast and explain our frustration, not only about the dropped internet signal, but also our rapidly rising monthly bill. They told him there was nothing they could do. So, he did some research and decided to switch to AT&T/DirecTV. 

Once we had everything set up for AT&T/DirecTV (after paying a $200 installation fee for the new modem), my husband called Comcast to cancel and THEN they asked why we didn't contact them earlier, that they could have helped get our monthly fees lowered. WHAT?!!! Grrrr. Am I any happier with AT&T/DirecTV? Not so much. I now totally get the whole Slowsky's turtle AT&T commercial. But, we are now stuck. Comcast...FAIL!

PROACTIV
This company officially gets my "Worst of the Worst" award. I don't care how bad your skin is...please take my advice and do NOT order Proactiv. Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Julianne Hough only use it because A. Money is no object for them and B. They have agents handling their affairs. If you are just an average person, stay away from this company! I ordered Proactiv for my teenage daughter to help clear up her acne. I went online and ordered the three-step program for $29.99, which didn't seem TOO bad. First of all, it took FOREVER for the products to arrive. Shortly after they did, I received a notice that my next shipment was on it's way. Excuse me...WHAT?! Seems that when you purchase Proactiv, it automatically puts you on a monthly plan. (Shame on me for not reading the fine print!)

So, I tried to cancel. This was not (or at least not what I thought) I signed up for. So, again, I went online. First, I tried to chat with somebody (no, I really don't like to pick up the phone). I started the chat, but no representatives were available. So, I tried to send them a message. You can't just email them, you have to complete a form. I typed them a lengthy email, but before I could send it, I had to type in the "captcha"...you know, the wiggly, barely legible alpha-numeric code that some sites require you to type to prove you are not a robot (as if a robot has acne????). The first five captchas I typed failed. So, I decided to click the speaker icon to hear it read aloud. HA! Have you ever done this? It sounded like a dying cat. It was completely unintelligible. After about 10 tries (and failures), I was really pissed off. So, I picked up the phone and called Proactiv.

After waiting on hold and being transferred to a couple of different people, I was finally able to speak to someone about cancelling my account. She offered to put me on the every-three-month or every-six-month plan and I told her NO! I wanted my account cancelled.

It is now three months later, and we are STILL being billed by Proactiv. There's no doubt that the stress this company causes leads to more breakouts. And, by the way, you can buy a generic alternative three-step program at Target for $14.99 - half the price with none of the commitment! Proactiv - FAIL.

If you've had exceptionally good (or bad) customer service from a company, I invite you to comment below! I'd love to hear about your experiences. Thanks for reading!

With Love and Aloha ~ Nancy




Friday, February 22, 2013

Meltdown at 37,000 Feet

Allow me to begin this blog post by saying that, although the experience I'm about to convey was extremely stressful for me, I am thankful that I did make it home safely. Exhausted, aggravated and sore, but safe. Gotta give Delta props for that. Given the choice though, I would not fly Delta again. Here's why...

Smiling upon arrival in Austin.
Earlier this month, Bob and I traveled to Austin, Texas for TCEA. The trip didn't begin quite so great. Not only was I selected to be body scanned, I also had the privilege of being patted down by one of TSA's finest, had my palms swabbed for explosive residue AND had my backpack searched upon boarding. Now, the image to the right was taken that morning. Do I look even remotely suspicious? I'm 5'2" and was carrying a Hurley backpack for goodness sake! I appreciate TSA keeping me safe, but I felt a little violated. Yeesh!

Both flights TO Austin were smooth and pleasant. No delays...no problems. As I've mentioned before, I love traveling for work, but it is completely exhausting. By the end of the week, I was SO ready to just get back home to my family. Now, when I initially noticed that we had a 35-minute window to connect in Atlanta that we were REALLY pushing our luck, but I knew that flights usually arrived quite a bit earlier than scheduled, so I wasn't overly concerned. Our flight was scheduled to leave Austin at 4:45 p.m. When I checked the flight status on Delta.com around noon, it indicated a 20 minute delay. Uh-oh! :/ But, the next time I checked, it stated that the flight was on time. OK, I thought, we're in business. 

Once again, I was body scanned at the airport (lucky me), but no pat-down this go-round. At 4:00, our plane was at the the gate, so I was not worried at all. BUT...it took the crew 45 minutes to get the passengers off of the plane. ??? We didn't start boarding until almost 5:00 and our flight ended up leaving around 5:25. The hope of making our connection was fading fast, but the pilot said that our flight time was one hour and 38 minutes, so maybe...just maybe we'd make it. The New York-based flight crew on that flight was horrible. I'm not sure I saw any of them smile. The crew member who did the safety demonstration (no back-of-the-seat TVs on this ancient plane that was probably older than me) barely spoke English. I wouldn't have known what to do in an emergency if my life depended on it. (I prayed that my life wouldn't depend on it!) Then, they completely skipped our row when the served drinks (and at that point, I could've REALLY used a $7 one!). 

My anxiety only escalated when Bob logged on to Delta.com through the in-flight internet. When he entered his information, the system told him that we were screwed. OK, it didn't actually say, "You're screwed", but it did indicate that a delay in our travel schedule would result in our missing our next flight and recommended that we look for an alternative flight. There were two later flights that evening from ATL to FLL. The first was full. The second (arriving at 1 a.m.) had three seats left. Bob asked if I wanted him to book seats for us on that flight. I asked if it meant that we'd have to give up our seats on the flight we may (or may not) catch and he said "yes". Ugh! I didn't want to give up hope. I still wanted to try and catch our flight. I wanted to get home! I asked him what would happen if we missed our flight and didn't get on either later flight and he told me that the next available flight to FLL out of ATL was at 11 a.m. the next day! At which point, my emotional dam burst. I just sat in my seat and cried (and prayed A LOT). Thank the Lord Bob has a wife and three daughters and can handle tears! 

Good choice of  footwear, but suspicious looking backpack
So, our next flight was scheduled to leave at 8:20 from Gate B2. Our plane landed shortly after 8:00. My heart was racing. Then, we sat on the runway for several minutes in traffic!  By this point, my adrenaline is flooding my system and I know that if I don't burn it, I was going to have a panic attack for sure. Finally, at 8:10, we were at the gate - Gate T-14. Now, keep in mind, ATL is the busiest and largest airports in the world. Naturally, our next flight couldn't be in the same concourse, or even the NEXT concourse over...that would be too convenient. Bob had to get our equipment out of the overhead bins, so he told me to just make a run for it (what a guy!). As soon as the door opened, I did just that.

With my 25-lb backpack, I ran as fast as my legs would carry me. Let me tell you something, I may work out 5-6 days a week, but I am NOT a runner. Fortunately, for some inexplicable reason, I had chosen to wear my Reeboks on the flight. (Normally, I wear slip-on shoes) and my adrenaline was surging. I was trying to run (without passing out) and pay attention to just where the heck I was going. I followed the signs to the tram that would take me to Concourse B. I almost got on the tram going in the opposite direction, but fortunately, God placed an angel in my path who told me I needed to get on the other tram. I made it to Concourse B around 8:15. Then, I looked up at the sign to see where I was - B18!? Seriously?! I have to get to B2?! By now, I'm already tired, but I ran as fast and hard as I could with my backpack (which I seriously considered ditching). Around B10, my lungs were burning, so I slowed down to a walk to catch my breath. Then, I heard someone yell, "Nancy! Why are you WALKING?! COME ON! I've got my computer bag, the projector, and the banner - I can't carry you too!" as Bob (the marathon runner, who is 10 years older than me and just put me to shame), sprinted past me. "I'm coming!" I yelled, "Please tell them to wait for me!"

As we approached the gate, the Delta rep was just beginning to assign seats to people on stand-by. As Bob and I (and three or four other crazed people from our earlier flight) approached the gate, out of breath, she had to tell the people on stand-by that they couldn't get on the plane (that must have stunk!). But, WE MADE IT!

We got settled into our seats about two minutes before the door was closed and locked.  We were seated in an exit row and the flight attendant had to ask if we were capable of assisting passengers in the event of an emergency. I told her that I was so happy to have made the flight, I felt I could handle anything. She replied, "That's what I like to hear! A happy passenger!" and she SMILED. Imagine that - a pleasant flight crew! In spite of the fact that I could swear I tasted blood bubbling up from my lungs, I was confident that everything was going to be okay. Once we were in the air, Bob informed me that the last time he checked later flights before our last plane landed (still not sure we were going to make our connection), every flight was booked until the next afternoon! 

We made it back to Fort Lauderdale a half-hour ahead of schedule! As soon as we got to the baggage carousel, we were paged to report to the Baggage Claim office. Although we had made our flight - our luggage did not. Honestly, at that point, I didn't care. I was just so happy to be home. The Delta representative informed us that our bags were on the next flight, arriving about an hour later and that they would be delivered that night. I was tired, but figured I wanted to get my bag, so I agreed to keep my cell phone on to answer the driver's call for directions (which I was told I was required to answer). I waited until about 12:30 before I finally crashed, figuring my phone would wake me up. It never did, because the driver never called...until 8:45 the next morning. Now, if they had just told me that my bag wouldn't be delivered until the next morning, I would have been fine with that, but they told me that I had to wait for the driver's call the night before. Grrr...

Cali guarding Bob's suitcase until
the driver returned
Naturally, I wasn't home when the driver called the next morning. Delta had given him the wrong address (surprise), transposing two of the numbers of my house number. As I was driving back home, I received an email confirming that my bag had been delivered. I was relieved and ready to unpack and get started on my laundry. Only when I arrived home, it wasn't MY laundry waiting for me - it was Bob's (yes, I had Laundrie's laundry)! They had left the WRONG BAG! Apparently, the Delta Skycap in Austin had mixed up our bags at curbside check-in. By the time I called the driver (thank the Lord he had called my cell phone so I had his number), he was halfway to Palm Beach! He had to turn around and return my bag to me, then turn back around and deliver Bob's bag to him! I'm pretty sure he was as unhappy as I was at that point. When my bag arrived, my luggage ID tag was missing. I'm still not sure whether it was lost at the airport, on one of the flights, or if the delivery driver ripped it off because he felt like a dumbass for leaving me the wrong bag. 

In any event, I was home and so was my bag. I tried to call Delta to complain, but thanks to Winter Storm Nemo (I know, right?) there were "longer than normal hold times." I had been held up by Delta long enough. I was ready to get on with my life. 

Looking at Delta's slogans over they years, I'm not surprised they changed from their 1994 slogan "You'll love the way we fly." Wanna know something funny? Their latest slogan is (wait for it...) "Keep climbing." The unwritten message in that is "You're gonna need to be in great shape for your sprint to catch your connection!"

With Love and Aloha (but not so much for Delta) ~ Nancy

Monday, February 11, 2013

Austin ~ Even Weirder in 2013

Another fun Austin T-Shirt in honor of Mr. Nelson
I recently visited Austin, Texas for the second time. On my last visit, I learned that one of Austin's slogans is "Keep Austin Weird." Last year, we stayed outside of downtown, and I didn't really think the city was all that weird. This year, however, we stayed in the heart of the city. The half-mile walk to and from the convention center every day gave me plenty of opportunities to see the real Austin and learn that it is, indeed, pretty weird. 

I love going to conventions - seeing new places, meeting new people, etc. There's not a lot of downtime during the shows. It is a GRIND. Pretty much 8+ hours on your feet, either standing at the booth talking (SO much talking!) or walking around the exhibit hall for a break from talking (and standing). I try to take full advantage of what little free time I have and experience as much as I can of the city I'm visiting (before 9 p.m., of course). ;)

Taken from the middle of Congress Avenue
Day One in Austin - after setting up our booth at the convention center and practically inhaling a delicious pulled pork sandwich to the sounds of Lynyrd Skynyrd, I needed some Tums, so I used my phone to locate a CVS on Congress Avenue, the main drag through Austin. Head south on Congress, and you'll cross the river and the infamous Congress Avenue "Bat" Bridge. Head north on Congress and you'll run right into the majestic Texas Capitol Building. Walk along Congress Avenue, and you'll see a whole lot of "weird." On that day, I saw a homeless man whose feet were covered with either bird feathers or Swiffer Duster refills. I'm not sure which and I'm even less sure why. I doubt he was sure either. On my last day in Austin, I saw a person dressed up as a chicken walking down Congress, a homeless man who had sculpted a beautiful two-foot-tall angel out of aluminum foil, and a crazy woman with her pants down below her butt doing some weird dance on the side of the road (reminded me a bit of the African dancing in Lionel Richie's "All Night Long" video), and mumbling incoherently to herself. She scared me a little bit.

Too bad it didn't open 'til after my bedtime!
There were bats in the hotel that we stayed in last year, which was located on the river, right next to the Congress Avenue Bridge. I didn't see any bats this year (lucky for Bob), but I did get quite an education about the Austin bats from an unlikely source - the most well-dressed, polite cab driver I've ever encountered seemed to be an expert on the local bats. That was a little weird, but enjoyable.

As the editor of several travel reference books, I knew a little bit about Austin's reputation as the "Live Music Capital of the World" and about the city's legendary Sixth Street, lined with bar after bar featuring live music. Our hotel was located just two blocks from Sixth, and it was on the way to the convention center, so I enjoyed "taking it all in" (from the sidewalk - I never actually stopped in any of the bars, as I had imposed a strict one-drink limit on myself after my Doomsday experience). 

Be sure to read "The Rules"
Strolling down Sixth Street at night is quite an experience. Neon everywhere and the sounds of live music filtering out into the street. Bars with names like "Chuggin' Monkey," "Mooseknuckle," "The Dizzy Rooster," and my personal favorite, "Peckerheads." Most feature signs out front with ummm...interesting sayings like, "Bend over and spell 'RUN'". Some signs clearly stating that if you take a picture of the sign and don't come in for a shot, you're cheating. The Jackalope features a larger-than-life jackalope (jack rabbit/antelope hybrid) with a saddle that patron's can ride, provided they have a drink in hand. Rules state that "no male nudity" is allowed. No rules prohibiting female nudity, mind you. Yeah, a little weird. 

Though I never actually sat in on any of the sessions, the live music coming out of the bars was great. I heard amazing renditions of the Gin Blossoms, "Found Out About You" and Matchbox 20's "3 A.M.". I also saw a talented young lady strumming her guitar and singing "Take it Easy" by the Eagles while standing on the corner of 6th and Trinity (in Austin, not Winslow, Arizona) with her guitar case open to collect spare change. It was kind of weird to hear a girl sing about having "seven women on my mind," but it was Austin, and she had some mad vocal (and guitar) skills! 

Austin-style toilet seats at "Wild About Music"
Oddly enough, Sixth Street proved to be even weirder in the daytime than it did at night. The bars aren't nearly as lively, but the people are still pretty weird. On my last minute stroll through Austin before leaving, after being scared off Congress by the dancing woman, I decided to head down Sixth Street. There were a couple of shops I wanted to hit before heading out,  like "Wild About Music" - an incredible music store/gift shop that featured a resident kitty on the counter. I also stopped into the "Austin Visitor's Center" on Sixth, which was kind of a let-down, and even had a misused homophone blazing in neon. Austin is a city, not a building, people! [Yes, I am a nerd.] When exiting the Visitor's Center, I heard a very loud catcall from down the block, followed immediately by a (equally loud) "Shut the f**k up!" which was responded to with "That's what your mama told me last night! Why don't you come down here and shut me the f**k up." At that point, I decided I had enough weirdness, and headed back to the hotel to catch a cab to the airport.

In case your hometown isn't
weird enough for you.
I was ready to leave the weirdness behind me and return home to my family. My trip home was an adventure in itself, thanks to Delta. But, that's for another blog post. Travel troubles aside, my trip to Austin (business-wise) was a huge success. I got to meet and spend time with some great people, eat some delicious (though not-at-all healthy) food, and to experience some interesting things that made me thankful that I live where I do! Keep Austin Weird? I don't think it's in any danger of changing any time soon! ;)

With Love and Aloha ~ Nancy


Monday, February 4, 2013

Large Older Sibling is Watching

A note to my readers: This post is cryptic for a reason. Read on and you'll understand. ;)

Anyone who knows me knows that I love Facebook and post all the time. Many would say TOO much. Guilty. I do, however, try to keep controversy out of my posts. Every now and then, though, a post will appear on my news feed that I'll feel is worth sharing and so I do just that. I don't expect all of my friends to like or agree with things I post, just as I don't necessarily agree with everything my friends post. If my friends something that I don't agree with, I just let it go. It doesn't mean I don't consider them my friends anymore, we just have different beliefs and opinions and that's OKAY.

If you are an avid reader of my blog, then you know where I stand when it comes to the current state of the country in which I live. You know that I am not a fan of the one in charge, and I don't care for or agree with much that he says or does. I know that many of my friends do like him and think he has done great things. That's fine. That's one of the beautiful things about living where we do - having the freedom to have (and express) an opinion. At least I thought that was the case, until last week.

A post shared by one of my friends featuring a popular funny man (whom I find very amusing) came across my news feed. His first name starts with a 'J' and his last name sounds like a wolf-like animal who is very deserving. The post itself was a guide to help one determine which side of the physical barrier that separates one yard from the next (sometimes chain-link or wood), as it relates to the two primary groups that control the country in which we live. Let's say, it was to help one determine whether they are more of a pachyderm or more of a jackass. (Sorry, that was too easy. ;))

It compared how the two "animals" were likely to handle various situations very differently. For example, it explained how if a pachyderm didn't believe in a higher power, he simply didn't attend a house of worship; whereas if a jackass didn't believe in a higher power, he would demand that all references to a higher power be removed from society. If a pachyderm needed a little help financing taking care of his body and well-being, he would shop around or seek out employment that would assist him in financing this; whereas a jackass would expect everyone else to take care of him. If a pachyderm didn't care for a person reporting a story, he'd just watch something else; if a jackass didn't care for a person reporting a story, he'd demand that the person be taken off the air. You get the picture. It was supposed to be amusing (although it certainly had a lot of truth to it). So, I shared it with my friends on my news feed. 

Later that day, my husband told me that he was planning to share my post on his feed, but he couldn't find it. He asked if I had taken it down. I told him that I didn't. I looked on my wall, and the post was gone. I went to my friend's wall (from whom I had shared the post) and it was not on her wall either. Strange indeed. So, my husband told me that he had checked a popular site (whose name is like a combination of a beloved black and white cartoon beagle and a minty green mouthwash(and which, by the way, is heavily influenced by jackasses)), which said that Mr. deserving wolf-like animal was not, in fact, the author of my post. OK. So...maybe it had been removed for that reason??

I told my brother (who is also more of a pachyderm) about what had happened and I sent him a link to the story comparing the "animals" from another site. (This version didn't even mention Mr. deserving wolf-like animal). A little while later, my brother called me and asked if I had seen his post on FB. He said he had shared the story on his news feed. I logged on to FB and the post was nowhere to be found - not on my news feed and not on his wall. It had been removed! Spoooooooky. So much for the very first freedom that we are all supposedly guaranteed. Does this remind you of any other time in history? As my husband says, "If you like the direction we are headed, there's a pilot program 90 miles south of Key West." Are you scared yet? 

The most ironic thing about the whole situation is that the last line in the storystated, "If you are a [pachyderm], you will share this so that your friends can have a laugh. If you are a [jackass], you'll be offended and delete it." Wonder who is in (total) control? Here's your sign.

With Love and Aloha ~ Nancy