I feel the need

I feel the need

Friday, October 3, 2014

My greatest childhood fear might kill me yet.

Irony, that is the name of  my life's story.

When I was in kindergarten (through fourth grade, but this story takes place in kindergarten), I went to school in a two room school.  My classroom was home to 36 students in grades K-4.  (So you'll pardon me if I don't weep for educators now who talk about overcrowding in classrooms.  Mrs. Zimmerman, my teacher, juggled all subjects except gym for give grades and we all learned how to read, write, spell, do math, follow the rules, and be kind to each other.  It was crowded, but we all had a desk, most of them from the Flint School District after a school burned down...they smelled of smoke, but we didn't know any better.)  Anyway, as the youngest kids in the room, we got to listen to the classes the older kids were doing because when you're packed into a room with 35 other kids, you spend time coloring and listening.  And reading and listening.  And silently participating with a class at your desk...while you're listening.

I was mostly interested in what the first graders were doing because, frankly, I wasn't quite sure exactly what was going on with the way older kids, the fourth graders.  They were talking about things called fractions, which sounded strange, although there was a lot of talk about cutting pies, which was nice.  But first grade, I figured I'd listen to that and get ahead for the next year.

One of the things I just knew, I just KNEW was going to be a problem for me was something they called "fill in the blanks."

It would break your arm if you had to
crank out more than 5 copies...but
the smell was worth it!
See, it was the seventies, and there were 36 kids in five grades in the room.  Mrs. Z. relied on worksheets.  And one of the worksheets she used for first grade was the "fill in the blanks" worksheets.  It was part of their reading class and the deal was they had a sentence that had a missing word, a blank, in it.  Below the sentence were three words that looked alike and the student had to pick the correct word and write it in the blank.

At age 4/5  (I started school very young, another story for another day) I was convinced I wouldn't be able to read well enough to pick out the right word.  I watched some of those first graders crash and burn as they read their choices out loud. (As a side note, people wonder why I've never ever had a problem with public speaking...I give a lot of the credit to my young years in a multi grade classroom...you had to speak up and you had to do it in front of people.)

I snuck a peak at those sheets when Mrs. Z was busy with some other class.  All those blue letters on that white paper with the grainy blue dots from the mimeograph machine in the office.  I knew the 8th graders were the only ones allowed to crank copies out on that machine.  I loved the smell of freshly mimeoed pages...and I wasn't alone.  It was the first high most of us in the 70's enjoyed.  I looked at those sheets and I was convinced I'd never get out of the first grade because fill in the blank was going to kill me.


Anyway, I shared my fears with my mother and she told me I would be just fine.  

Flash forward some forty years.  Sitting at my desk I realized something yesterday:  I'm living my greatest childhood fear.  I spend my days sitting at my desk filling in the blank on paperwork, on plumbing forms, on computer credit card payments, on financing payments. All day long I fill in the blank.   

It might just kill me yet.

Okay, just a few fun things that happened this week because I love to share.  With PM gone now two weeks, we've learned to be a little self sufficient.  Well, okay, NGTJ and I have.  Captain Nubbin just runs around with his cell phone to his ear swearing.  And when he does sit down, it's to call an irate customer who's irate mostly because we're short installers  (they keep quitting.)  and in order to get our stuff installed, we have to get what I call "rent-a-mules" from the corporate office.  One would think the corporate guys would be super excellent at installing stuff.  

One would be wrong.

Anyway, so while I'm learning new skills and NGTJ is learning new skills some things don't change.  Last week I took a call from a little old lady who informed me that the shower doors we'd installed for her needed service.

"What's wrong with them?"   I ask.

"They aren't working properly."  says she.

"Are they not closing, or are they leaking?"  You would be amazed at just what can go wrong with shower doors.  You'd think it would be simple.  If it opens when you want it opened and closes when you want it closed, and kept the water in the shower when you were using the shower, that should be it, right?

Again, you'd be wrong.  People call me all day long with gripes about shower doors.  I want to tell them that shower doors get wet when the shower is on and when you open a pivot shower door after running the shower, a few drops of water are going to get on the floor.  See, because when you wave a wet thing over a dry thing a little wet is going to get on the dry. People believe because they bought a door it should keep the floor bone dry no matter what.

People are wrong.

But that wasn't this woman's problem.  "Well, see, they are too loud."

"What's too loud?"

"The shower doors."

I looked at her records. She had slide by shower doors, the kind you see in most tub/shower combinations.  When you slide the doors there's a bit of a rumble because the doors are mounted on wheels over head.  But it's not that loud.

"Ma'am, are you saying the doors are banging into each other?"

"No.  They make a loud noise when I close them."

"Like what kind of a noise?"

"A rumble."

Okay...."Are they hard to open and close?"

"Oh no. They move just fine."

At this point I just want to bang my head on my desk.  "Ma'am are you saying that when you move the doors you hear a rumbling noise and that's the only problem?"

"Yes.  They are just too loud."

I'm short handed right now and I'm just not sending a tech out to look at doors that are operating exactly the way they should be.  "Ma'am, I have to tell you, I believe the doors are fine.  There's going to be a certain amount of rumbling when you open and close them because they're mounted on wheels."

"But are they too loud?"  At this point she holds the phone up to the doors and moves them.  Ah...the elderly with cordless phones.

"No, Ma'am, I'm going to tell you, those doors are the exact amount of loudness for the type you bought."

"Really?  Oh, okay them.  We're quite happy in that case."

See, in order to be good at customer service, all you have to do is know how to communicate with the dimwitted.

One final note all.  It's October and I promised you a book by the end of December.  If that's going to happen, I have to get at it and really, really work.  So I'm starting my own NANOWRIMO a month early.  I'll be away from the blog for a while until I get a good grip on the new book.  But I promise you, it'll be worth it!

While I'm gone go ahead, read back blogs.  I know you all haven't read all of them!


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