Diversity is a street between Belmont and Fullerton

Diversity is a street between Belmont and Fullerton. More precisely it is smack dab in the middle (2800 north in Chicago navigational parlance) of several streets between Belmont (3200 north) and Fullerton (2400 n.) . And, as long as we are being truthful, it is Diversey and not Diversity. Tell that to all the El train conductors who used to announce the next stop along the way after the Fullerton stop to give those of us in the 1960’s a chance to switch to a B train. Of course, nowadays the human conductor has been replaced by an authoritarian robotic command. Regardless, herein lies the irony.diversey
Continue reading “Diversity is a street between Belmont and Fullerton”

Tangents, Rudeness and Do Not Call Lists

Get me in a conversation and I like to go off on a tangent. Which reminds me of what happened the other day when I answered my cell phone only to receive a solicitation call.

But let me first explain that my cell phone is registered in my business name and address. It is the only cell phone I have. About a dozen years ago I came to the conclusion that I no longer needed a land line at a physical location. I was now a part of the many self-employed consultants who run a virtual office.
I can either do work at a client site and more often than not work from home remoting into sites as well. By the way, the spellchecker does not like the word “remoting”. Someone ought to tell the lexicographers that it’s the new way of working, baby.

I had maybe less than six months earlier re-registered my cell phone number on the “do not call list” as I was not sure if it was still on it. The website told me that my request was accepted but that it could take a month to kick in. Still, it seems that there are a lot of businesses that prey on suckers via Alexander Graham Bell’s gift to the world while ignoring the purpose of the list.

It’s true that charities are exempt as well as anyone affiliated with anyone with whom you currently do business. That means that a credit card company may sell your financial data and phone number to one of those solicitors and they want to claim that they are affiliated with the credit card company so it is okay to annoy you and me.

Anyway, back to the phone call. I’m driving my car with the bluetooth device plugged into my ear.
That’s another word- bluetooth. If you separate it into two words, someone is gonna think you have a strangely colored tooth and why would you want to stick it into your ear? So, again- the lexicographer is asleep on the job.

By the way- again- I want to run people off the road who put the phone to their ear instead of buying a less than $100 bluetooth device. If you happen to be one of them who holds the phone to your ear while driving- beware. You’ve been forewarned.

Again, back to the phone call. The lady said to me, “can I have the person who is in charge of your Com Ed bill?” For those of you who cannot figure this one out, Com Ed is short for Commonwealth Edison, which is the company that provides electricity to my residence. It also provides it to my so-called office but I could care less. I sublet space. The lessors deal with the utilities- not me.

I was annoyed for a few reasons- one, I got a call for solicitation on my business line; two, the number is supposed to be in the ‘do not call’ list; three- I hate talking on the phone when driving- even using the blue tooth because if it a customer support call it is difficult to give it the necessary attention.

I replied immediately: “that does not apply to me. Have a good day.”
The lady who called then said: “what do you mean by that?”
I answered: “look, you called me and I don’t need to say even a word.”
She quickly retorted: “okay, sorry.”

I hung up but really wanted to say: “no, you are not sorry. You pester people over the phone for a living. Even if you have a good product or service to sell you have no business bothering me or anyone else unless I asked you to call me. And I know whom I tell to call me.”

So, here’s the deal- if you hold a cellphone to your ear while driving and are also a phone solicitor- look in the mirror and ask yourself why people are rude to you. As Al Pacino once said in a movie
where he played a lawyer and said to the judge, “don’tcha even care?”

Through Rain, Sleet or Snow

By Larry Teren

Letter_Carrier_with_Mail_SackThe mail gets delivered in all types of weather as the saying goes, but maybe not always when there are vacations to negotiate. At least in my village.

The U. S. Postal Service recently announced that they were going broke within the next few months. No wonder. Recently, I walked past the lobby in my condo building toward the elevators and considered for a moment about checking to see if I had any mail that day. This was at 7:30pm. I had already checked at 4:30pm and the mail slot was empty. Before I turned the corner to the mail room entrance, I thought, “no way! If it wasn’t delivered by 4:30pm then I probably didn’t have any but others probably got theirs.” But then I remembered I had a conversation with a substitute mail carrier late one afternoon the previous week and he told me how he was exasperated because his local office was making him take care of the rounds for absent carriers after his own eight hour route. He was tired and it was unfair, although he was getting paid time-and-a-half overtime. Continue reading “Through Rain, Sleet or Snow”

My War With China

I suspect that one of these days when moderate Republicans are no longer allowed in this country that I will be stopped at the border coming into China. Not because I am a political undesirable- okay, maybe- but because I have a problem with one their manufacturers that exports to America. You didn’t hear about it? That’s because I’m going to fill you in on it right here.

You want the long story or the short version?

Huh?- I figured as much but I’ll tell you the long one anyway:

The other day the phones in my condo were no longer cooperating. I could dial out without a problem but the ringer on receiving a call was a brief belch along with static. I called your favorite three letter phone company and they dispatched a repair person the next day as promised. Okay, it wasn’t as promised but why get my blood boiling so early in the story. There will be plenty of time soon enough.

A tall, very sweaty, overweight much experienced linebacker (as they call them, I think) spent quite a lot of time testing signal strength and static in the phone room (don’t get me going about what it took to get the phone room open) as well as the various rooms in my fourth floor apartment. He came to a conclusion which had be starting to boil. He said that the linebacker fee I pay each month on my bill covers only the wiring at the phone room to the outside world as well as up to my apartment but not in the walls in the various rooms.

The main conduit is in the kitchen. There the signal on the phone is fantastic. But once you hook it to the line going throughout the other rooms, the static shows up. He said that he would not devote two hours to trying to sniff out where the breaks are. He gave me two choices which was really only one. He said I could keep the wiring the way it is and have the static and difficulty in answering calls or I can let him disconnect the line from the rest of the residence and have only one phone in the kitchen. I would then need to go out and purchase a kit of three or four wireless phones. This way I could plug them into wall outlet chargers and have phone availability in as many rooms as I wanted. It also meant that I would be giving up the answering machine in the bedroom and it would be instead built into the base unit in the kitchen.

So far, no China, right? Here is where they get involved. You can’t fight city hall nor the three letter phone company, I guess. I went to a popular consumer electronics store and bought a two handset wireless phone set that I thought looked pretty much identical to the single handset wireless phone I purchased several months. In fact, to the naked eye- no one can tell that there is any difference.

I took the two handset unit home, set them up and figured it would be a piece of cake to register the older phone as the third unit. However, no dice. I read the instructions several times looking for hidden clues that would help me break the mystery on why it refused to recognize the third phone.

On a hunch, I opened up the battery holder on each phone and the mystery was quickly solved. The two units that communicated with each other in a cooperative fashion were model 629’s and my slightly older, identical unit was model 619. Ah, those clever Chinese.

I called the customer service hotline and was told by a robotic female voice in a very bossy American tone that I could press options 1 through 9 or hang up. If I thought that I was smarter than them and pressed 0, it would not be of help. Instead, it would go back to the start and give me the menu options over again. I figured then if I pressed 0 several times in a row, maybe that would wake up the robotic night watchman on the other side of the world, and switch me over to a human being. At this point, who cared if they spoke English or not. However, once I pressed 0 five times quickly, the female robot came back on and said simply, “good bye and thank you for calling” and the dial tone came back.

Not to be outsmarted by a machine, I decided to call back again and this time choose the option to place an order, figuring that I would indeed be connected to a live person. After I carefully chose the option in which I promised to buy expensive accessories, I was told to wait and a sales person would soon come on the line. After ten minutes of listening to loud, innocuous music, I hung up.

My next tactic was to go to their website and click on the Contact Us link. I sent an email to them warning them that I would spread the word about the lack of customer service support and picket the store from where I bought the phones.

They wrote back in broken English thanking me for trying their product and wishing me harmonious enjoyment when making phone calls. I returned the favor by sending another email informing them that I was planning to dig a hole so deep in the back yard of our condo building and help the Mexicans who do our landscaping find a new escape route to China. Then when the Asians look at all the stuff they buy that has labels that read “Hecho in Mejico”, and try calling the customer support line, I’ll be the one designing their automated answering system.

Uh, after I cooled off, I went back to that popular consumer electronics store with a very nice return policy and exchanged the 2 handset unit plus the difference in price for a 4 handset kit sold with the three letter phone company icon on the box.

Oop’s I forgot. Two days later, I got another email from the first phone manufacturer and said that my dilemma (their words) could probably be solved by talking to a live person via a customer support
line. The number they gave me was special and not posted in their instructions manual nor on their website. But, you know what they say- “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.”