Working Through My Fear

I’m going crazy trying to figure out what to write about. I start a million things and abandon them. My passion, enthusiasm and motivation are at a standstill. My therapist says I’m a perfectionist pussy…without the pussy part, but I know he’s thinking it. Apparently, I put such high demands on myself that I’m too scared to produce anything. Because, “Oh My God it could suck.”

Or scariest of all, what if it doesn’t? What if it’s good?

Shiver.

What makes that scary? I can’t answer that because it would have to be the perfect answer and there isn’t one. The short answer I don’t know, but I’ve been trying to figure it out.

The thing is the best writing, the stuff that really speaks to you whether it touches your deepest soul or makes you pee your pants with laughter is done by an author who is honest and shows vulnerability. It’s when you can relate that makes it good…makes it real. The trouble is society shakes its finger at realism. Vulnerability is weakness, not human.  We put on a front to save our dignity while watching scripted reality television folks.

Yay us!

I’m scared to actually be real and that’s holding me back. Once something is out there, it’s out there, which means friends, employers, kids can read it and it doesn’t go away. If you choose a public forum to lay out your opinions, idiosyncrasies or God forbid your skeletons you open yourself up to criticism which isn’t exactly something a perfectionist can overcome easily.

Plus, my Mom would have a shit fit. On a side note, it’s amazing how your Mother’s opinion still influences all your decisions…even in your 40’s.

I keep thinking the time will come when I’ll stop caring what people think and just write what goes on in my wacky head…but what if you hate it? What if you like it? Is the glass half empty or full? It’s a vicious circle. Sometimes I want to just give it up and go on with being an employee, wife and Mother. It would be easier, but would it be right?

Then I think of all the great things that could happen if I score a best seller…like going on a book tour and getting asked to write the screen play.  I’ll go to lunch with John Cusack and we’ll have witty intelligent banter before he agrees to play the leading man.  And let’s not forget having martini’s with Kelly Ripa the night before I guest host Live. We’ll giggle and give each other knowing looks the next morning throughout the broadcast. Oh, that Kelly, you couldn’t possibly know the time we had…

So. Much. Fun.

These are things I actually think about. Don’t even get me started on charades with Ellen and Portia.

The unfortunate part to this fantasy is when I get a free moment and sit in front of a blank screen; my funny, witty thoughts and creativity take a detour. It’s so frustrating. I wish I could make a career out of snappy Facebook retorts. One, two lines and I’d have it made, but putting the time in to write another novel or even this blog seems impossible sometimes. I’m tired.  I work a full time job. I have two kids with multiple extracurricular activities, my dog needs walked, I manage to exercise, despite and because of the 20lbs I’ve gained this year. I’m slightly depressed. Plus, I’m only on season 2 of Breaking Bad for shit sake and you expect me to find time to write?

Related: I hate reality.

It’s all fear.

Fear is an asshole. A mother fucking asshole.

I almost erased the cursing for fear of you judging me, but there it is anyway; my first step out of fear.

Sorry, Mom.

It’s The Holidays, Everyone Fricking Relax!

This here is a rant.

Over the past two days I’ve read comments on social sites crucifying (pun intended) others for using (Xmas) the abbreviated version of Christmas. One of the victims was me this morning on Facebook. I posted a picture of Christmas cookies and in my usual fashion rambled on and on and on and within my post I typed “Xmas” instead of “Christmas.” And so it began.

A “friend” of mine, really I haven’t seen her since I think I was seventeen…so ten years ago, (achem) took it upon herself to point out how I took the Christ out of Christmas. No joke. I have that power. She has every right to be concerned…She also made sure to tell me that I shouldn’t take any offense by her pointing this out.

First of all, I know what I wrote, thank you very much. Did I take offense to it? Well, obviously, yes because she stuck her nose in where it didn’t belong. It’s none of her damn business what I choose to put on my page. I see tweets and statuses everyday that either offend me or challenge my morals but I don’t go all self righteous and point them out. And do you want to know why? Because they are my beliefs and my morals, obviously not theirs; When it happens I simply scroll down and ignore it because it isn’t my place to tell someone else how they should think, speak, write, etc.

Now usually I’m pretty good when I get comments I don’t like to my posts. And I can’t even remember ever deleting anyone’s, even though I have some pretty “out there” friends. You know who you are.  I’m not a difficult person to get along with, as long as you don’t preach to me. The fact that I used Xmas instead of Christmas is simply because I’m lazy and trying to save time, not because I’m trying to diss Jesus. We live in the world of texting and tweets for God’s sake! I mean, I’m sure Jesus isn’t mad at me for saving some characters, actually I’m pretty sure he has other things to occupy his time then feeling offended by someone’s Facebook status.

That being said, I deleted her comment and then after thinking about it for a while I deleted her entirely. I don’t need someone dissecting what I say. She doesn’t even know what my faith is. Whatever “higher power” I choose to pray too or whether I do at all is my business. I never assume, especially when it comes to religion that someone has the same beliefs as I do. I never ask. It breaks my number one rule; never speak of religion (or lack thereof) with others unless invited to do so, you don’t have the right to preach. Leave it to the professionals within the walls of their denomination and keep your nose out of it.

Relax people, it’s Xmas!

Can I Help You?

Remember when customer service people took pride in their jobs and wanted to help you because you could actually make or break their existence? Where the hell did that mentality go? Now we’re surrounded by large warehouses filled with vest wearing employees who couldn’t give a rat’s ass whether you buy something or not.

Oh, they try to pretend they care, trying to be all “customer servicey” by putting one employee at the front doors to “greet” people. One person. Ya, I’m looking at you Wal-Mart. Its one person’s job in the entire rank of employees (two if you’re at a superstore) to make people happy. But once you pass the greeter you’re on your own, released into a sea of shoppers to dodge the aisle hog, the slow walker and that one person that you swear to God seems to be following you around the store purposely cutting you off at every turn.

Now let’s just say you’re in one of these places and have a question regarding a product. Well, then you’re really screwed. First you have to find a representative to help you, and then you have to actually make eye contact. Because that’s the trick, isn’t it? If they sense you in their peripheral they’ll haul ass around a corner and disappear. So basically you have to hunt down someone to help you. And if by chance you manage to tackle one, don’t be fooled by the array of buttons on their vest. They are not, in fact, a “specialist” in anything but avoidance and they’re not there to help you, they’re just putting in their time to get the hell home. In fact, the buttons are aiding their laziness; they aren’t even required to say the words “Can I help you?” anymore; they just have to wear a button declaring that they are.

Why can’t they wear realistic buttons so you know what you’re dealing with like, “I hate everyone.” Or, “Talk softly, I’m out of Oxycotin.” Or how about, “I’m here because no one else will hire me with these big o-ring looking things stretching my earlobes like silly putty.”

And don’t even get me started on trying to get a video game out of the locked glass. Remember when you used to stand and look interested at something behind glass and a salesperson would actually appear out of the blue ready to assist? Now there needs to be a training class for shoppers on how to approach this daunting task.

There’s usually (again) only one employee with a key and everybody wants him. One person. This time of the year when everybody, (except those two parents left who still don’t allow their kids to play video games) and there’s only one asshole with a key? Now here’s where training would come in handy. You must be the first out of all the other holiday shoppers hovering around the game aisle to identify the holder of the keys (hint: he’s the one with his pants riding low) and stalk him until he has a free moment between belches. Then you spring into action because if you don’t, well, you snooze, you lose and you’re waiting for another 20 minutes. He has many people waiting for him, many tired, grumpy Christmas shoppers and he could not care less. He saunters around with his pants at his ankles, jiggling his keys like a jail warden like he has all the time in the world, and he does, at least until his shift ends.

When he finally opens the glass is when he gains some interest in you because he wants you to hurry up. You could be cutting into his break time, so he stares at you like you’re a moron because you have no idea what a Yoshi is and why the hell your kid wants one. Well, fuck you vest boy, I did my time waiting for you. You can just stand there and text your girlfriend while I figure out if I’m going to let my 8 year old play a teen rated game. The answer is yes, by the way. Don’t judge me. I’m not good under pressure.

But it’s not just the blue vests, what about the orange smocks?  It doesn’t matter how many times I enter a Home Depot, if I need to find a salesperson for whatever I’m looking for, you can bet the section I’m in isn’t their “department.” Why? Because they would never actually be in their own department, what kind of bloody sense would that make?

They usually say they’ll get someone for you, but here’s the trick, if they’re really intent on finding someone for you, they will take out their little walkie-talkie thingy and actually call someone to come. If he or she doesn’t do that and walks away, you’re screwed; no one is coming, do you hear me? The joke’s on you.

But let’s just say that they do call someone, you still wait because that “specialist” is in someone else’s department hiding. So, as they emerge from their slumber making their way to the spot they are actually supposed to be in, they will be approached by ten other customers looking for anyone in orange.

“Look an orange smock, get him!!!” And now he’s walkie-talking people for those customers. Here’s some advice Home Depot staff, stay the frick in your “department” and there won’t be this much confusion and everyone can get on with their day.

Now, say your person finally gets there and just when they enter your aisle the old woman who has been waiting in the aisle with you, (aka, the one who has a hearing aid but still overheard you’re request for a representative), steals your person! Because all your orange smock knows is someone in aisle three needs assistance. And now you have to decide what kind of person you are. Are you aggressive and claim your “specialist”? Or do you shut up and wait. Again. My answer varies because I have a hard time reaming out an old person. I’m not saying that you can’t be old and an asshole, I just personally figure they’ve done their time and earned the right to go first. Always.

Now I know all this ranting makes me seem like I’m cynical and negative but I only wrote this because recently I had an extraordinary customer service experience that shone a big fat bright light on those places where it’s lacking. It was a pleasure working with these people (Holla, Carpet Warehouse). It was a class act from beginning to end, even the man with five teeth in his entire mouth who took a bus from another city just to work on the stairs was professional, funny as hell and actually proud of his work and it showed.

I don’t mean to get all down on all big franchised stores. I’m sure there are plenty of hard working people at these places. And I don’t blame the young people; I mean if they aren’t made to follow certain procedure then they’re going to take advantage. I blame management. I mean, quite frankly Chapters does a good job inspiring their employees to be kind, courteous and helpful. For starters, you can always find one, but usually they find you first, like they’re supposed to. Even the cashiers are well put together, clean and neat, this is not to say that they don’t have nose rings or tattoos but they appear generally happy to help you, even if they aren’t.

And that’s what I like when I’m in a place of business, a facade. I want to walk and shop in oblivion. Is that too much to ask? Work with me people. Please.

To Hell In A Hand Basket

This post is long, but so true. I can’t make this shit up.

I had a customer service day from hell.  I noticed my online file with a government agency was incorrect. They had an important date wrong in their system. I know because I have a photocopy of the original. Thinking it would only take a second to fix (my first mistake) I dial the 800 number provided under their heading, “We’re ready to help you.”

It rang busy six times before I was lucky enough to talk to the automated attendant.  Of course then I had to monkey around with pushing one, then enter my social insurance number and my password, then push two, then one, only for the computer to recite the same wrong date. Good, I think, I’m finally to the part where I get to push zero for a real live person.

“We’re sorry we are experience a high number of calls. Please return to the automated information line or hang up and call back later.”

Obviously, they had no idea who they were dealing with. I hang up and call back and keep calling back (because that’s who I am) until their computer finally identifies that my
SIN has been entered eight times and finally puts me in sequence. However, “the call volume is high.”

Was that supposed to scare me? I’ve got time. I call their bluff and wait. After about five minutes Angie picks up.

“Can I help you?”

I always fall for it; they set you up right away pretending to want to help you.  I tell her the issue with the date. It says 2010 when it should say 2011. She asks me some
security questions and then punches some buttons.

“Is says 2010.”

“Yes, I know. That’s why I’m calling,” I said with absolutely no tone whatsoever.

“Well, I’ll put a discrepancy in the system and have them look into it.” Then she continues to tell me the multitude of red tape that had to occur to fix it.

First of all who are they? They are everywhere, doing everything. Don’t they
get tired? I sense her about to hang up. “How long will it take?”

“5-10 days.”

This is a standard answer. I know because I used to give it for a living. So I explain that it doesn’t need investigating it’s an obvious key punch error. I have a photocopy of the original document in front of me, the date is 2011.

“Well, I don’t have the copy in front of me, just what’s on my computer.”

Sigh.  Obviously Angie had a big lunch because she doesn’t want to go digging through files for paperwork.

“Do you have access to the original copy?”

“I can get a scan of it.”

“Okay. I’ll wait.”

Angie hates me. She drops the phone, probably mumbled to her co-workers and made crazy hand gestures to the phone; maybe even flipped me the bird.  Hey, I’ve been there and I’ve seen worse.

“Okay I have the document. It says 2010.” Suddenly Angie’s voice has a hint of snarky.

Now I’m flabbergasted because I’m starring at a photocopy that clearly says 2011. “Are you sure you’re looking at the right document, #999654?”

“Yes.”

“A scan of the original?”

“Yes.”

There’s a problem here somewhere. “Where is the original?”

“Nova Scotia.”

Sigh. For those who don’t know me, I live in Ontario. For those that don’t know Canada; this document might as well be at the North Pole. Of course I know she doesn’t control where the originals go, so I’m still trying to be supportive. See how I’m working with her here?

“Well, something has been clearly mixed up. Since you have access to scanning can you email me a copy of what you’re looking at?”

“It clearly says 2010, but I can put in a request that you require a copy and they will mail you one.”

Again with the they, “And how long does that take?”

“5-10 days”.

Again, I’ve been on the other side of this conversation and she’s going to do nothing further to help me.

“Please send it.” I give the necessary details and hang up. This is not over, I think as I leave to pick the kids up from school. If I hurry I can make it to the local office before it closes and maybe they can clear this up quickly.

I drag the kids there all grumpy and hungry (me and them) and went in. The lady was very pleasant and sort of smushy and warm like how I like to think of Grandmas. She
takes my paper and looks up my account. Clearly on their system someone had typed in the date, my original is handwritten. So it wasn’t a scan after all. Angie,
you did me wrong.

“Well, you are absolutely right we’ll get that fixed up right away.”

I was kinda disappointed; she had really struck me as the type of person who would’ve said, “In a jiffy.”

“When will that be?” I asked.

“5-10 days…”

You would think the day would have ended there, but alas, it did not. If you still have the strength, read on…it’s worth it.

By this time, I’ve had it. My daughter is in tears because she had a terrible day dealing with hormonal grade six girls and she was “starving!” I tried to be sympathetic but really all I wanted was a glass of wine and some chips.

“Hey kids eat free on Tuesday,” said my young, innocent and yet to be scorned son.

The advertising restaurant (who shall remain nameless…Oh, who gives a shit, it was Denny’s. That’s right; those who judge shall be judged themselves…or something like that) was right across the parking lot. Well, I’m no dummy. This is the answer to my prayers, who cares if it’s 4pm.

In we go; kids instantly happy. I looked around. There was no one, I mean NO ONE in this restaurant but us, two waitresses and a cook. I’m concerned, but I feel myself
being lead to our table.

The kids order a hot chocolate, but their machine is broke, so they get lemonade and pizza. At this point I wanted a big greasy burger and fries to wash down the distain, but I did a bunch of self talk as I looked at the menu, which had more grease on it (I mean physically on it) then I wanted in my entire meal. I decided on grilled chicken on a whole wheat bun and a salad. And begrudgingly, a Diet Coke.

A bit later the waitress came back with my salad. The same salad you get in a bag at the grocery store. Now I know what I’m getting at these restaurants but did they have to make it so obvious?  Iceberg lettuce, bits of red cabbage and the dried up shreds of carrot? Yummy.

It didn’t matter. I ate it. But, like the kids pointed out, “Where the heck are our drinks?”

The waitress comes back and announces they have no whole wheat buns. What other kind of bun would I like?

“Well, do you have multigrain or rye?” I don’t know what I was thinking.

She tells me she “doesn’t know their names” and went to get a menu so she could point to the pictures of sandwiches.  As it turns out, my choices were a white bun or bread.

I tell her bun and she goes away. But, shit what about out drinks?

I look to the kitchen where I can see her behind the glass reading the paper. She must have forgotten. Give her a break I tell myself, you’re extra sensitive right now. Finally
she starts to fiddle with some plates.  With her bare hands, I watch her arrange our veggies on a plate. She grabs a handful of Goldfish crackers and puts them in a bowl, leaving a few in her hand that she promptly pops in her mouth, fingers and all. And if that wasn’t enough, she picks up more veggies and places them on the plate.

Was she kidding me? My first reaction was to walk out. But it quickly occurred to me that I would have to cook dinner. Plus, my daughter would go absolutely, hormonally ape shit if she didn’t eat soon and although I don’t let her rule the roost there are times when I just can’t deal with it.

“Excuse me, but I’ll need you to wash your hands and re-plate these,” I said to her before she could leave. “I saw you eating with your fingers in your mouth while you were getting this.”

She nods, clearly confused and takes our plates back to the kitchen.

My daughter says, “Um, our drinks?”

Crap! I forgot to ask again!!

I watch her wash her hands and plate the (hopefully clean, but doubtful) food. She brings them and my chicken sandwich. No pizza. No drinks.

“Can we have our drinks?” I finally say.

I have to mention again that up until then, we were the ONLY ones in the restaurant. I mean, she wasn’t exactly busy.

She disappears, clearly shaken. At this point the other waitress springs into action (not really but whatever) and seats another couple beside us. It also should be noted that these two came in with NO KIDS. Why on earth would you eat there unless you had kids that could eat for free?!

Our waitress brings the kids pizza. We all stare at her.

“Drinks?”  We say in unison.  She disappears, I assume to spit in our food.

I hear the man beside us asks if the turkey club is made of lunch meat or real turkey. A fair question I think.

“Oh,” says Waitress #2, “we’re outta turkey.”

OUT OF TURKEY!…SERIOUSLY?

Our drinks arrive, but I’m too busy listening in on the conversation next to us to acknowledge it.

The lady wants nachos, but doesn’t want the peppers, they give her heartburn.

“I’m sorry, they can’t make them without peppers because earlier in the day we cut up the onions, tomatoes and peppers and put them in the same bowl to save time.”

The woman just stares at her and then looks around at the empty restaurant.  Hey, at least her waitress was sorry!

I look at my son who was staring at his dinner like it was dipped in ass and scoffed down my sandwich figuring if I eat it fast, it might stop my gag reflex.

“I know I`m in public but I have to fart,” he says out of the blue.

I nod and tell him to do it at the waitress station.

He doesn’t because I raised him to behave better than how I tell him.

“How much did you tip her?” He asked on our way to the car.

“I told her not to pull on Superman’s cape. That’s a good tip.”

“We better get moving, what if she comes after us?” he said, concerned.

“I’d like to see her try.”

“Would you punch her in the face?”

“Probably,” I said, just totally done.

“I would to then.”

“Me too,” says my daughter.

They make me smile.