Heroes Haiku

Heroes are born fast

Who stand and protect others—

We will not forget.

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Scammers, Scammers Everywhere

Note: this is a cautionary post about what we have experienced ourselves, not a slam on all businesses.

Well—I thought that the Crankee Yankee and I had winkled out all the usual telephone scams and were pretty “scam savvy” by now. We have been through the old “Sir or Ma’am, your computer has just informed us that it has problems and we need to fix it.” The Crankee Yankee took care of that one pretty fast: he asked the caller which computer he was  talking about.

The caller, understandably confused, asked how many computers we had. The Crankee Yankee replied, “52; which one has contacted you?” The caller said, “are you a business?” The Crankee Yankee said, “yes I am.” The caller then asked what sort of business it was. The Crankee Yankee replied: “cyber security.” The caller hung up quickly.

And of course there have been other scammers who call now and then. We usually just hang up on them.

But, as we all know, just when you think you’ve heard it all, you haven’t. For years I have been sending Harry and David gift baskets to family and friends for the holidays. This year I ordered a Valentine’s Day basket full of fruit, cookies, cheese and candy to send to our granddaughters and their mom and dad. Easy-peasy as always. Until it wasn’t; a few days later I got a call from the company saying that my selection was no longer offered and could they send something else?

I happened to look at the phone number and noticed it read “1-800-FLOWERS.” Which made me suspicious and also because the woman calling had a marked foreign accent. Now, I am not slamming people with different accents; it’s just that in all the years I’ve used Harry and David, this number never came up, nor did the person ever have a foreign accent.

I decided to just cancel the whole thing and go to another company. I asked them to please just refund my money. I was offered a better, more expensive basket for the same price, and politely turned it down. I was then offered discounts and more offers. I thanked the woman and said that all I wanted was a refund.

I got exactly seven more phone calls trying to get me to take another basket, more discounts, etc. Each time I said, no, I only want my money back. I wasn’t rude, I didn’t yell, I just repeated that I was no longer interested in sending a basket and just wanted the refund.

When I got the eighth call, I said that I wanted nothing more than a refund. I told the person on the phone that this was the eighth call I’d gotten, and because of this I no longer wanted to do business with them. They very reluctantly agreed to refund my purchase.

I found another place to get a gift basket out and it was received on time with no problems. I checked my Paypal account and saw that my original order had finally been refunded. I was glad to see the end of this. However, after two more days, we got another phone call. This time the Crankee Yankee picked it up.

He was told ‘so sorry, but the refund we sent you actually was supposed to go to another customer. Would you please give us your credit card number so that we can take back the money we sent you, return it to the correct person and then refund you again?’

After he stopped laughing, the Crankee Yankee told them that that was not going to happen. The mistake was theirs, not ours, and that we certainly would not be giving them our credit card number. (Seriously, who would?!) And isn’t it the company’s fault, not ours, that they made this mistake? (If indeed it was a mistake.) It’s not as if we were trying to scam them; we received the refund we asked for, and nothing more. Done and done.

I did a bit of research and found that Harry and David had sold out to 1-800-FLOWERS two years ago for a cool $142 million dollars. I’m guessing that my piddly little order isn’t going to be even a blip on their bottom line. I don’t think that they will go under because of my departure.

Scammers are everywhere, so watch out!

 

A Moment in Time

This post is dedicated to the people who lost their lives yesterday in the Florida high school shooting, those who lost family members and friends, and all those whose lives have been changed forever. My prayers go out to you all.

They came to school as every day—

Leaving home with books and dreams

A moment in time; the same routine

Is new for each sunrise

We live our lives day to day; a moment in time,

Imagining the days and years to come—

High school graduation

College graduation

New job

A life companion

New home

Babies

A moment in time toward the future.

But those lost yesterday have lived their lives

In only a handful of years.

So much behind them, there was so much ahead—

They have gone on, unwillingly halted in this life,

Leaving grief in their wake

And their futures gone.

How do we live through this?

How do we reign in our anger and tears

Where is there an answer in this moment in time?

Those who have gone from us

Are with us still—

Just left too soon.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Well, here we again on Valentine’s Day. When I was a little girl, Dad always gave me a little heart-shaped box of chocolates; Mom got a much larger one. It didn’t matter in the end, because I always got into her’s. I was famous for biting off a corner of a chocolate; if I didn’t like it, I put it back in the box. Mom always referred to these as “spit-backs.”

Years ago when I was again single after my divorce, a fellow I worked with asked if we could go out to dinner together on Valentine’s Day as neither one of us were seeing anyone. I agreed. Of course, everywhere was packed with lovers of all ages, and we got a kick out of watching them all.

Funniest of all was the name my “date” gave the hostess for when a table was available. My friend was over 6′ tall, muscle-y, and had the kind of death-ray stare that intimidated everyone who didn’t know him well. (He really was a pussy cat; just looked scary.)

To that end, he told the hostess the name to call when our table was ready: “Dumbass Sh*thead.” The hostess looked confused, and asked him to spell it. He did, only he pronounced it “dumbaz shy thad.” I did my best not to laugh right then and there. But when his name boomed out over the loudspeaker, I just lost it: “Table for two for Mr. Dumbass Sh*t—oh, CRAP!”

Suffice it to say, we had a lot of fun not specifically having Valentine’s dates that night.

Bless the Crankee Yankee’s heart; he always asks me what I want for Valentine’s Day. He never has been very comfortable about giving me gifts; he worries that he will somehow disappoint me. So instead he takes me shopping. I pick out what I want, he pays for it, and we are both happy.

The Crankee Yankee  would rather have me pick out something I like rather than guessing. This Valentine’s Day he bought me a beautiful necklace I picked out on Etsy. It is a lovely sterling silver tiny crescent moon pendant with a tiny diamond in it, on a sterling chain. I absolutely love it.

When I ask him what he wants, he always hugs me and says, “I’ve got you; that’s plenty!” Of course, the five cats and I usually get him something; a big bag of roasted cashews, another backscratcher, a Dunkin’s gift card, and so on. After all these years, it really isn’t the gift, it’s the thought, the love, the remembrance and the time together.

I remember that first marriage of mine; for any occasion I received loads of jewelry, vacations, and clothes. What I didn’t get was a good husband. Not that gifts on a special day are a bad thing, but I came to realize that those gifts were only a cover-up for bad behavior, lying and cheating on me. Needless to say, we divorced with no harm done.

I have known the Crankee Yankee since we were both in our 20’s. We both had first marriages that failed, and we both went our separate ways for a few years. When I was living and working in Texas, I got a phone call from him. At the time, he was a long-distance trucker. When he called he said that he was going to be passing through Dallas in a few days and would I like to have dinner with him? I did.

We got caught up on each other’s lives, and stayed until the restaurant closed. A few months later he called to invite me to his daughter’s graduation from West Point in May of 2001. He told me that she had also recently become engaged to a fellow West Point grad, and would be having a West Point wedding in September. He asked if I would like to go with him for that, and I accepted both invitations.

We had a wonderful time at the graduation, and we spent a lot of time talking. We caught each other up on our failed marriages, and laughed about not wanting to get married again—ever.

Well, by the time we went to his daughter’s wedding, we were engaged. All the reservations and fears I had had about marriage melted away when he proposed to me. He had been my friend for years, and I knew what a good and faithful man he was. And now, nearly 16 years later, here we are on another Valentine’s Day.

The Crankee Yankee is my best Valentine’s gift ever!

Should All the Eggs Be in One Basket?

As I notice more and more technology becoming the norm, I wonder if there will be a time when no one remembers how to do things the “old-fashioned” way. Those of us who have not kept up with the latest technology may be forced to hire their own “geek translator,” or Heaven help us; a robot facilitator.

I read a post somewhere where a woman around my age was complaining that she didn’t like this new-fangled technology. She had been in a grocery store where the shortest line was the newly-installed self-scanners. The directions were clear enough, but it frustrated her that there weren’t more “humans” to ring things up.

The answering posts were pretty harsh, especially from one young woman who posted: “well, old lady, you’d better step into the future and stop whining about your Good Old Days. Lady, they are SO over! What are you going to do; go hungry because you’re too stupid to download a shopping app, use the scanner or get a Smartphone and pay your bills? How are you going to get your money when banks no longer exist? Guess you’ll just have to hurry up and DIE if you can’t get with the program!” (Ouch!)

Just the other day I bought a pedometer. All I wanted to do is see how many steps I take each day and how many calories burned. I had originally wanted to get a FitBit, so I talked with the people who sell them. I told them that all I really wanted was the steps and calories, and perhaps heart rate. They looked completely gobstruck when I told them I wanted a FitBit that didn’t need to be synched up with a SmartPhone, BlueTooth, etc.

Well—they looked at me as if I had a tattoo on my forehead that said “OBSOLETE.” They patiently explained that they didn’t carry that; that all things are (evidently) part of the everything-hooked-up-to-everything technology today. Maybe, they said, a pedometer would “do it” for me. So, I bought the pedometer. Works for me.

Later on in the week, I had to go to the bank to get a bank letter regarding an annuity I have. When I asked for a copy, the nice young woman did a double take and said, “a copy? What do you need that for?” I explained that I wanted it for my files, and said, “but I bet you get asked this all the time.”

She blinked at me and said, “no, we don’t. We don’t keep paperwork; it’s all online.” Silly me, I thought. Of course everything is online. But here’s the thing: what happens when/if technology fails and we can’t prove anything because there’s no backup or paper trail? Look I get it; I’m all for not cutting down more trees and harming the environment. But again; what happens when there is no way to prove anything because all the technical stuff failed?

It is definitely my age that makes me think that putting all of one’s eggs in one basket is not a good idea. If our present technology fails, then we lose not only connectivity, but records, documents, pictures, files, etc. At my age, I try to have at least a toe or two into the current technology, but I can’t help but feel that I need to keep paper backups and so on. Just in case.

Perhaps we are slowly evolving into a hive mentality where everyone knows everything about everyone, and documents and pictures and such are available to anyone through “The Cloud.” It’s beginning to sound (to me, anyway) like a genuine Twilight Zone-ish “new normal” where convenience rules and no one has to go looking for all those old-fashioned pesky papers, etc.

It could be just me, but is that really a good thing? What if technology fails? Sounds like there’s no backup for that one. Just sayin….

 

 

 

Grace and Gratitude

There are days when I find myself feeling full of both grace and gratitude. Some days are filled with joy, contentment and happiness over the smallest things; a great night’s sleep, a snoozing cat on the sofa next to me, a good joke, a cup of coffee, and the Crankee Yankee mostly over his bout with flu. Grace and gratitude!

Days like this are gifts that are given graciously. I never feel that I fully deserve them, but am grateful just the same. It’s that rare and precious feeling you get when the little bit of our world seems safe and full of pure happiness and peace. Grace and gratitude!

After the snowfall from a few days ago, the temps dropped down and the tree branches and the stark bushes were sheathed in ice. The sun lit up all the icy limbs with every color of the rainbow. It was as if our little part of the world had turned into Tiffany’s window display. Grace and gratitude!

There was a hymn I used to sing that had this line in it: “I have been given much, so I too must give.” I think about it each day; how lucky I am to live in a free country. I have a snug roof over my head, clothes to wear, food to eat. I have love and companionship, laughter, love, hope and joy. I have family and friends. I have had wonderful people who came before me and helped me on my way; who taught and inspired me.

It reminds me to give of my time and attention; to make a positive difference where possible. It can be as simple as a smile to a stranger, or as life-changing as giving blood at the Red Cross. We give as we can, and all gifts matter.

So far in this life, I have loved many people and have been loved by many people. Although I have lost some dear ones along the way, they are with me still and have changed my life for the better. How often did I hear my dad say to me, “be aware!” That life lesson stays with me to this very day, and I do strive to be aware at all times.

I keep reminding myself each day to look around, to notice everything, to truly be aware. For all of the bad and horrible things that have happened in our world, I believe that there have been many more acts of goodness and kindness. Most may be unseen to all but those who are direct receivers, but the intent and the energy of those acts of goodness still make a difference.

If we can just stay aware, there is truly more grace and gratitude out there than we can imagine. Look for it, and you’ll find it. Be grateful, be gracious, be kind; be aware. Watch for it; it’s everywhere: grace and gratitude.