Gas Shock Wipeout

 “You don’t have to give them service before or after the sale, all you have to give ‘em is the best possible price.” …  Quote from Modern Day Economic’s Professor.

Finding parts for a 30 year old bus, is often for lack of a better word, a challenge.  Today was such a day, I went to five auto parts outlets, one parts supplier, and eventually, later on in the afternoon, the Internet.  Never did find the part.  I found a lot that were “similar” in size and shape, but not THE part I was in search of. 

That is often the way it goes … First yo’ muny … And then yo’ clothes.  The owner of a second-hand bus knows how hard it is to drive a bargain.

The thing that is often so frustrating is standing around at the parts counter, while two guys work the parts and the customers stand around in the background waiting to be helped.  If things are this busy, you would think they would have more people working the counter.  

Everywhere I go these days, I either see some poor slob who is over-worked and under-appreciated working his butt off.  Or I come across small groups of people standing around waiting on the next smoke break or the non-sanctioned hackey-sack tournament in the parking lot at 10 A.M..  

 Then there is the ever present question.

You show them the part, and they say to you … “What does this go on?”  You say, “An 83 Model Eagle Bus.” and then they want to know what is an 83 Eagle Bus might be, and of course, “where do I look it up in the book?”  You in turn say to them, “it won’t be in a book” and try to explain to them the nature of the beast.  

 They reply with “everything is in the book.”

At one place, I stood there for a full 12 minutes while this guy talked on the telephone, in the mean time, people who work there, zombies with little name tags on their shirts, are walking around and acting like I am invisible or something.  Back in the old days, they would inquire of you, “I am sorry, have you been helped?” but that dog doesn’t seem to hunt any more. 

No such animal I am afraid.

I did find the part on the Internet but I could not figure out by looking at the photo’s, if it was the right part, and at $41 and some change each (I need two) I enquired by email on the items.  No soap.  They answered the email alright, within the hour, as they had promised.  But confusion ensued, which is often the case with emails, and I found myself reluctant to commit without specific information.  

They in turn steered me via email to the home page “where information on all of our products” can be found.  This is the part that rubs me wrong.  If “all the information on the product can be found there” on the Home Page, then why am I sending them an email to inquire about the product?

The person on the other end, who said his name was “Joe” just blew me off, for lack of a better description.  It was apparent that he just did not feel like dealing with me, email or not.  He just shunted me off to the Home Page and that was it.  

All of this is akin to being snake bit, it is taking me a long, long time to die.

When this company is forced to lay someone off later on in the year, in a valiant effort to cut back because of lousy business and poor customer service, I sincerely hope Joe is the first one shown the door.  

Because all this has been so difficult and has turned into one frustrating dead-end after another, I have decided to give up on new gas shocks and just find me a suitable stick at Home Depot or Lowe’s to prop the door open with that.  Regrettably, it is not very professional by any means, but it is like Dr. Phil says …. “What ever works?”

This is the new revised plan or fix for the problem.  

You see I KNOW where to find a stick, I can run it thru “self service checkout” and be outta there in a snap.  For all of you who have stuck around this long, here is the finish.

I am home now, safe in my own little world of my own making.  I sit in my comfortable easy chair and sip on my coffee and my mind wanders to All In The Family and the episode where Archie is stuck on the elevator with all the people.  

 Where the lady says:

“Oh I hope I didn’t hold you people up?  This is the slowest elevator in New York City.  Oh has this been a day, nothing has gone right, this elevator that I caught, is the first thing for me that has gone right all day.  When I left the house this morning, I stubbed my toe, and I couldn’t run, so I missed the bus.  When I got to work, I locked myself in the ladies room, and my boss left, and I missed getting paid.  Could you please punch #4 for me?”  

Archie responds, ”Lady we just passed five.  Today is a complete wipeout for you aint it?”  

After the day I just had, I can really relate to that, I surely can.

OOO

It Aint What It Seems

Things have been driving me nuts here lately, and I can no longer abide by a lot of things.  I need to learn how to suck it up.  

Every now and then, I feel the need to get outta town for awhile.  That time has come, so much to the wonderment and absolute glee of the major oil companies, I am going to get out in my bus and burn off some fossilized carbon atoms and spend large sums of money in order to do it. Things have gotten better here lately, diesel is once again, under $4 per gallon and I hear that President Obama numbers have gotten so good he has been upgraded from an empty chair to a small empty sofa.  (Please note I did not say Love Seat, we all know that dawg aint gonna hunt, don’t we?) So I have decided to “suck it up” … bite the bullet, eat my shorts, whatever.  I am out of town for a week or two, so if you don’t see any new posts.  Don’t worry, it is because I am out of pocket for awhile. When you wish upon a star, it makes no difference who you are … Oh yeah, before I forget.  I read some more interesting news on the space thing (that is what I am calling my latest obsession, my therapists she calls it a fixation, but I like space thing a whole lot better).  Anywho, a galaxy-wide search for earth like planets has returned a startling number of candidates.  Using NASA’s Kepler space telescope, astronomers this year announced they’d spotted roughly 2,326 new worlds and they are still counting.  Ten of those planets are close to the size of ours and orbit their suns (orbiting around a star, such as we do) in the “hospitable zone,” where temperatures could be a balmy 72 degrees which would support liquid water and potentially life.

Which brings us to that age old question …

I wonder which side

of the road they drive on?

Some people should absolutely NOT drink.  I am one of them, my wife says that no one appreciates it when you get up on top of the coffee table and do surfer imitations while singing to a Beach Boy Album (ask your Mom and Dad kids, I don’t have time to explain all of this).  A California man (where else?) was charged with unlawfully maiming a reptile after he bit a python at a connivence store.  He saw a woman showing off her snake to the clerk, so he walked up to it and sank his teeth into it, so hard, as to require medical attention for the snake.

Now I have been a little bit tight at times in my life,

but never thought of biting a snake,

maybe the foreigner behind the counter,

but never a snake.

Loyalty can get expensive.  Did you know that you are most likely paying too much for just about everything?  Well you are, and here is an article that explains it all.  It appears that all of the “newcomers” in America are getting the deal, customer loyalty counts for zip.   Surprisingly it makes a whole lot of sense when you stop and think about it.  You get the better deals by shopping around … Check it out. Working from home could be dangerous.  Me I am pretty much set in my ways and do most of my work from home, but still there is the inherent danger of working at home and not at the office.  With all endeavors, there is always the little thing that happens that kind of throws a wrench into the machinery.

Everything has a shelf life, all things wear out.  Do you need glasses??

Look carefully at the picture below.

Did you see the bare butt of the girl in the background?

If you did see that in the picture, you need to have your eyes checked, as that is the armpit of the girl holding the the camera.  (I have taken the liberty of making an eye appointment for you at 2pm, next MONDAY afternoon)  Things aren’t always what they appear to be. So Boys & Girls, the email is shut down and we are headed out of town!  We thought we might go down to Alabama and visit our relatives, see what they are up to.  My side of the family … really fun people.

Y’all be nice to each other while I am gone, play fair, don’t kill anyone.  Browse the archives, there is plenty to read over there, and here is the best part. It’s all free.

OOO

Shell Oil Sucks

As a typical American, I have multiple vehicles, all of which require fuel in order to use.  So this year, I applied for and was granted a Shell Oil Card for my purchases.  This card is not directly issued by Shell, but by Citigroup a credit card outfit in South Dakota.

This where the first problem rears its ugly head.  They issue the card, and then promptly put a $400 limit on the card, even when your credit rating is absolutely blemish free and stellar.  Try figuring out how to fill up three cars on a $400 limit at today’s prices and then throw in a bus with a 225 gallon tank, and you can readily see what the problem might be.

Last month I sent them $225.00 in the form of a check, my account balance at that time was $223 and some change.  They in turn, converted my check to an electronic payment (which allows them to keep the check, a practice I did not ask for), then they submitted the billing to my bank, who issued funds to them as payment.  Nice huh, now I have NO proof of payment.

This is where it all starts to unravel.

The Nimrod in South Dakota, reading the check submits it as “$25 instead of $225” and my bank pays the lesser amount.  Now I note that this error has occurred so I call them to inform them of the error.  This is when they start the process of trying to make me jump thru hoops and you are required to listen to elevator music, while they put you on hold trying to figure out what the hell they are doing?

Then the girl comes back on the telephone after what seems like an eternity of time (roughly 13 minutes) and informs you (the consumer) that YOU need to issue a NEW CHECK in the amount of $200.00.  So you ask why?  They are the one’s who caused the problem, but they dump it right back on you, and you are supposed to gladly cough up an additional $200 while they figure out the best way to handle the problem.  With no assurances as to what they are going to do with the check that they now have, which has a $200 balance still on it.

Now I am informed that they are going to dispute the payment for me and that resolution of this problem could possibly take as long as sixty days.

What a crock.

It is no wonder why America has turned into a lousy third world debt ridden country with moron’s like this routinely screwing up the simplest of business dealings and then failing (often with impunity) to stand up and correct what it is they _____ up.  (You fill in the blanks)

In this day and age, motor-fuel is a necessity of life, I don’t own a horse, and I am too old to ride a bicycle.  But one thing is for sure …. I don’t “NEED” Shell Oil Company … Like flea’s on a dog, locations to purchase motor-fuel are everywhere.

I am going to stop doing business with Shell, they most likely will just keep rolling right on down the boulevard without me and I will not be missed.  Sad to say, I kind of feel like a one armed man at an ass kicking contest, almost as if I brought a pen knife to a gun fight.

It could be Shell Oil that is messed up, or it could be the people who handle their accounts, which is Citigroup.  In the end, some sixty days down the line, you could find yourself kicking the wrong dog and starting all over.  As it stands I really do not know who is at fault here, I just know that it is bad business and they can forget mine, I am taking mine somewhere else.

One thing is for sure … I don’t need crap like this.  Both of them, can kiss the part of me that goes over the fence last.

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Cartoons courtesy of AmericanProgress.org

Loose Change

Awhile back I learned of a technique, a little trick of life, that increases my discretionary income.

It is called “The Rule Of Fives.”

Basically this is how it works.  You cull out your fives (separate them) in your change when you are out doing business in the community.  Each time someone makes change for a twenty and they hand you back a five dollar bill, you cull it out (separate it) from the rest of the herd and put it in your pocket.

Most of the time, my spare change and what knot, I carry on a money clip.  I carry two money clips with me most of the time, when I get a five, I put it on the other money clip.  When I get a hundred dollars worth of fives, I sock ’em away and last year, get this, “I had $1,455.00 in five dollar bills after a 12 month period of time.”

Never being really successful at saving money, this was the best half-assed plan I could come up with to generate mad money or funds for the things I like to do once a year.  Let’s face it, some people can do a vacation fund, Christmas Fund, 401-K and then there are those miserable folks like myself.  My entire life savings at one time consisted of a Folgers Coffee Can on the top of my refrigerator filled with loose change.

Not very impressive … or for that matter … practical.  So something had to give.

It is not like the lottery where folks feel like they can get something for nothing.  You have to work at it, but if you are loyal to it, disciplined, it pays off with some nice rewards.  So I always have a few fives on me most of the time.

Last week I am in a convenience store, a root n scoot, 7-11 kind of deal.  On the counter, taped to the cash register is a hand lettered sign that reads, “We Need $5 Bills.”  So I look at the guy and I say, “How many five dollar bills do you need?”

He quickly replies with “All you have.  How many do you have?”  Which kind of irked me to begin with, Okies are always “answering a question with a question” which has a tendency to drive me up the wall at times.

Which my wife will gladly tell you is a short trip.

So I check my money clip and I find eight $5 bills.  So I say to the guy, I have eight.  He then replies, “I will take them.”  At that point, I say to him, “How about I give you the eight five dollar bills and help you out, and you in turn give me the Big Gulper (Large sized soda)?”

He then says, “Naw, the drink is a buck thirty.”

So I lay out two dollars on the counter to pay for the Big Gulper and he fishes out two twenties from the cash register.  Then he makes change for the drink purchase and asks me “Where are the fives?”

And I reply, “they are in my pocket.”

At this point things are starting to rapidly erode in our customer-merchant-service person relationship.  He looks at me rather sternly and says, “What is this man, I thought we had a deal?”

To which I replied, “Hey, I aint your man, and we did not have any kind of deal.  I was going to scratch your back and I was hoping you would scratch mine (give me a free drink). You failed to do that, so no fives for you.”

Which instantly did not make me any friends at this particular store.

What is it in American business these days, where everyone expects everything from you, but they are not willing to extend the courtesy right back across the counter.  It would seem that with times as hard as they are, you would want to attract as much business as humanely possible.  Now I know some of you are not going to agree with any of this, and that is fine.  Comments section is open, take a shot at it, let us know what you think.

Try the five dollar thing it really works.

Try it for one year and you will be surprised at the end result.  And as an added bonus …. You can take Momma out and buy her something nice next year.  Be forewarned,  you won’t get a free drink, even with a pocket full of fives.

 



OOO

Give Me A Break File

If you are a member of the human race … Please press one.
If you live on the planet Earth … Please press two.
If you would like to speak to someone who understands English …
Good luck.

People are always wondering how it is that the United States slipped into this third world debt ridden status that it presently enjoys.  It could be because it is a fairly accurate description.  About the only thing we make in this country, is debt.

Here is an example.

I ordered some software from a major software provider on the Westcoast.  The cost of this item was not cheap, over $200.  It arrived today and it did NOT work.  So I dutifully call the people (tech support, now that one is a hoot!) and make inquiries and the tech rep tells me, “I will be honest with you.  The browser has a glitch in it and it will not work.  But I can show you another way to use the product.”

My next question to him was, “If you knew this _____ did not work, then why did you take my money and ship it to me?”  No answer for that.  Then he tries, unsuccessfully, to show me how to go around this and still use the product, a product that does not work as advertised.

Nuts!

I spend over an hour on the phone with people who speak something other than English and get nowhere.  So now I have to ship it back (at my expense) and hope that I might sometime in this century get my money back.

One more thing, “I was charged $5.95 freight on the item” and I look down at the USPS box and there it is …. $4.33.  No honor among thieves.  And this Boys & Girls, is why we are sliding into oblivion and owe every monkey’s son on the planet money for our national debt.  Man, man.  I have not had this much fun since I fed my laptop a cup of coffee at the International House of Pancakes!

I sure hope the lines are short at the Post Office Monday.

Have a good weekend.

OOO

Something Stinks

Smells badSomething Is Rotten In San Jose.  A California office building was evacuated when someone tried to clear out the rotten food from the office refrigerator.  In the end, a total of 18 emergency vehicles’, 50 fireman, and numerous hazmat teams responded to the AT & T Call Center in San Jose.

All this a direct result of someone trying to clean out the office refrigerator.

The stench from the refrigerator was overwhelming and it cleared the building of some 325 employees into the parking lot, seven persons  sought medical attention at a local hospital.  Veteran firefighter Capt suspects the putrid, liquefied item was originally some kind of meat.  He also added that “sometimes meat, a dog or a human, when the all start to rot, it is a horrible thing.”

Thank you Capt. for passing that information on.

Sort of reminds me of an old joke.  A lady, selling cosmetic’s is riding up in an elevator and she has to pass gas, so she lets it fly!  She then reaches into her bag of items, and pulls out some pine scented room deodorizer and sprays it generously around the confines of the elevator. A few floors later, the doors open, and a drunk gets on. He immediately starts to sniff …. Sniff, sniff and then he turns and looks at the lady.

She says to him, “Is there anything wrong?” and the drunk replies, “Uh, I dunno.  Does it kind of smell like a pine tree farted in here to you?”

As for San Jose?  Mama always kept a open box of Arm &  Hammer in the refrig, and it seemed to do the job.  That must have been some powerful smell. It could be much worse, you could be living in India for instance.  India has 41 cities that are now currently over 1 million in population.  The rapid growth of these mega-cities is overwhelming municipal services, leaving many with mounds of rotting trash, sewage flowing directly into polluted rivers and middle class neighborhoods that are now encircled by slums.  Count your blessings.

Here is something else that stinks.

The way America is doing business is pathetic.  Now let me set the stage for you.  If you are late on a bill, you pay a penalty, if you are late on a credit card, thirty-nine bucks, late on your house, penalty and possible forfeiture.  Now I have routinely ordered stuff here lately and it was promised by a certain time, but isn’t delivered.  I ordered some plastic, promised by Friday on the third Friday I complain and they give it to me the next day.  I have some upholstery work being done, promised in two weeks, it is now in the FIFTH WEEK and I don’t know when I am going to receive it.

Now here is the rub, they take our business, and our money, but they do not deliver on time, or anything resembling close to the promised date, and they still charge us FULL PRICE for the item, when we pick it up, sometimes literally weeks later. That sucks.  It is no wonder we are considered a debt ridden cheap third world country.

Check this one out, this will scare the **** out of you.  The co-pilot of the regional air carrier Coligan Air that crashed in Buffalo in February was making about $16,000 per year.  Now consider this, the average truck driver in the USA makes about $40,000 per year and a city bus driver, $31,720.00.  I don’t know about you, but I want “well paid happy people up there in the cockpit” not someone who is worried about how he is going to pay his VISA Card or Cable TV bill.

Not being a big fan of airports and all that, I don’t believe I have all that much to worry about. You however might have reason for concern.  But for me, I know I am not flying any more, my flying days are over.  Another thing, all of this airport security, the questions, intrusion, screenings, searches is just one more way of reducing your liberty in this country.

Thank John Ashcroft and the Patriot Act, Bush and company, for that.

They are just reminding you that they can still **** with you any time they want.  American’s are like that, they will trade off what little of their freedom they have left, in exchange for the feeling … the illusion … of security. That is the way we are, in our minds, we create absolute, point-to-point cause–and-effect assumptions about things when, in fact, there’s really nothing holding those assumption in place other than our own thinking.  We are no safer now than the day when the twin towers came tumbling down, we just like to “think we are.”

Think about it.

Lot of Internet chat rooms and sites talking about the MJ (Michael Jackson) thing.  Asking people “for their opinion on it.”  Which always strikes me funny, they ask for the opinion, and when someone gives it, they flame them for it because they do not agree with it.

Let’s see …. Let’s all pool our ignorance and form an opinion.

Someone said it much better than I could.  They said:  “The rhetoric of the rant is the dominant form of public comment on the Internet, where the pithy, personal, scatological attack has become a minor art form, rather like sculpting excrement.”

That should about sum it up.

Next?

I have been invited to submit articles for a Bus Conversion Magazine in Florida.  It is nice to be recognized for your talents, and it makes one feel somewhat special.  I have often written bus related items on the side and have not posted them here.

We are soon to move to the country, and we will have no cable service or Internet.  I am not sure I want to pursue sat. Internet service or Dish TV at this time, it is kind of up in the air, I may in fact, shut it all down and retire from posting and writing altogether.

As I have a lot of things going on right now, I have not made a conscious decision as to whether or not I will do this new thing, but it is nice to be invited.

Everyone wants to be chosen or invited, it is nice to be recognized for your efforts.

OOO

Wednesday’s Tuesday Affliction

People are funny

Lot of folks want something from you, very few are willing to give you something back.  Not being all that sure when this practice became “common place” in America but I can tell you this.  I am not a big fan of it.  Everywhere I go someone is barking at me, “Zip code!” … “Receipt, you cannot leave the store without it.” … “telephone number.” Personally, I am kind of like the monkey and the skunk on this issue, “I have had about all this stinking ____ that I want.”

Now that last one especially irks me, someone who usually pays in advance or in cash.  If I am using cash, why do they need to have MY telephone number?  I purchase a pack of batteries at Radio Shack and they want me to give them my telephone number, what for, I don’t get it?

One common denominator in the above paragraph, did you notice it?

The absence of civility or politeness seems to be disappearing, if not totally gone in this country.  The word “Please” or “May I?” is clearly missing.  Taking it one step further, I have discovered that in Louisiana they are actually teaching courses on it (politeness and civility) as the need has become so acute and the apparent disregard of it totally by the parents has led to an entire generation of rude, crude, demanding mini-people.

As I pointed out in the first paragraph, “Lot of folks want something from you, very few are willing to give you something back.”  Here is a prime example, I walk into a root scoot the other day, go to the Big Slurpy section and retrieve a number three wash tub sized cup and fill it.  I am not supposed to have it, but often to my doctor’s dismay, I will stop for a diet Dr. Pepper and a lot of foam.

At the counter I see a handwritten sign that reads:  “We need $5 bills, help us out.” Which was reasonable, please note no mention of “please.”  So I say to the guy, “How many do you want?” and point at the sign.

He says, “How many do you have?” and I think to myself, “damn another test and I am unprepared.” People who try to control a conversation by always answering a question with a question irate me, I know, I have been married to one who has done this for over thirty-years.

Back to the root n scoot fellow.  “I tell him that I have at least ten of them that he can have.  This is because I carry two money clips with me, I cull out the fives, use them in my savings plan and for tips when I eat out.”

He then says, “I will take them all.”

So then I say to him, “How about  giving me the drink for free?  I am doing you a favor, helping you out, so fair is far, you give me the Slurpy for free?” Mr. I Hate My Second Job Clerk gets rather indignant about it and says, “No way Bud!  The drink is $1.39.”

Which kind of sets the mood from there on out, one thing I do not care for is being called “Bud.”  My name is not Bud.  Another thing I am not overly fond of is “attitude.”  Ka-Ching the register rings it up …. “No Sale.”

Retrieving two rather worn, used up dollar bills from my other money clip, I say, “there is the money for the drink” and he makes change for the drink and then tries to hand me two twenties and a ten.  So I smile and I say, “What is that for?” pretending that I do not know what is going on.

“For the $5 bills” he says.

So then I ask him, is that is how it works around here, I scratch your back, you do nothing for me while all the time I am doing you what is known as a “solid” (favor) in most parts of the country?

“We had a deal on the fives.” Was his reply.

Maybe in “his world” we did, I of course did not see it that way.  Like I said, “Lot of folks want something from you, very few are willing to give you something back.” I scooped up my Big Slurpy and headed out the door with MY fives.

That was Tuesday and of course “today is a totally different day” wonder what it will bring?  Be sweet to all those you meet, because the words you speak, may be the ones you have to eat.  A dollar won’t take you very far in America these days, but a “please and a smile” will take you a long ways down the road of life.

Think about it.

OOO