Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Customer Service

1.  When I phone you from an English speaking country, and you don't speak English clearly or well, expect me to be crabby about it.  If I'm not, then bonus. If I am, and you take it personally the call isn't going to go well for anyone.

2.  If I call you and I'm obviously angry, don't react in a 'my day is worse than yours' manner.  Again, the call isn't going to go well. You had a bad day, I had a bad day. It's inconsiderate of either of us to inflict that upon each other.  And no, you didn't call me just to bitch.  Chances are? I didn't either. You have no idea what straws were in my load before this last one so don't make assumptions.  You are a point of contact for the business you represent.

3. The minute you make the call into a me vs you situation, you lose.  You'll most certainly lose my respect which will make it darned hard to accept anything good from you without it being suspect in some manner. Do I mean you should take shit and abuse from someone? No. Absolutely not.  But if you get pissy because I ask for someone who speaks clearer English than you do (BECAUSE I AM HARD OF HEARING AND ANY ACCENT MAKES IT DIFFICULT for me to clearly understand you) then you're not really interested in servicing the customer, are you?

3A. And if you chose to make it into a racism situation, well.. just think about that in reverse for a moment.

4. I may not have started out in a cranky mood when I first called you, but if I've been passed about like a hot potato from department to department, having to listen to the world's worse choice in music (IE blaring rock and roll or rap or anything with a hard driving beat that gets my heart racing) I'm probably going to be that way when I get to you.  This will be doubly worse if I've been hung up on by someone else, or had to jump through a series of press 8 to speak to X department 3 or more times before I get fed up and press the * or 0 for a long hold to get past your silly, supposed timesaving phone messages.  Understand that. And if I want to bitch about it for a moment or two, let me.  Really, it'll go a long way to me seeing you as an ally.

5. By all means, smile when you speak to me.  It really does come through in the sound of your voice and cadence of your speech.  However, keep the shit eating grin that tells your co worker I'm another nut bar off your face, cause guess what? That comes through as well.  Se that part about I may not have started out cranky?  This will do nothing but make certain that I am.

6. I'm not always right, but I sure as hell think I am.  If you can be right without taking that away from me, you'll be well on your way to a career in Customer Service and management.

7.  Tempting as it might be to tell me to stuff it and hang up, reconsider.  I am a customer of the business you work for.  Without customers, chances are the company will have little use for customer service personnel. We don't have to be friends but this whole thing works better if you can manage to be a double agent and be on my side as well as your company's.

Just one more thing:

All of these work equally well for customer tips.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Life is Better with a Dog

NOTE:  Long, self serving and purposely sad, with a happy ending.  Read at your own decision.

Yep it sure is. 

When Girl died in January, that was the first time in over 20 years that I did not have a dog in the house.  People talk about how freeing it is, not to have that responsibility and I can understand that; but for me, it was a gigantic hole. 

That doesn't mean we didn't love Girl and were eager to replace her (sigh people look to your own before deciding why I'm doing what okay? Just saying). It means we understood that her time with us was done and that having loved her as we did, that love was available for another dogsoul.

It goes even further back to when Girl came to live with us.  She was a stray around stock when my son brought her home because she had climbed into his truck at the first crack of thunder and refused to vacate from under the dash.  At least it was on the passenger side ;). Alright I said, to his phone call, bring her and we'll take her to the shelter in the morning.

We had dogs when he found her.  In fact we not only had our own dogs, we had his big moose of a mutt.  However, when this bedraggled, thin and weary border collie with a smucked in eye and pads worn thin came into our house she went immediately to hubby and sat down, solemnly putting her paw upon his knee.

No fear.  No notice of the other animals. Just manners and a silent plea. 

Needless to say, she didn't go to the shelter the next day.  Her muzzle was already mostly grey, her teeth worn down and a certain hesitant stiffness to her joints upon rising had us thinking that this poor old girl had had enough and could live out her days with us.  How long could she have, we thought. Maybe she'd live out the year, maybe the winter but that's probably all that was left in her.

She moved with us the following September.  That was in 2007.  She became a constant companion to our elder daughter, especially after a bout of bullying had her become a home schooled student.

Ready at any time for a game of soccer or fetch she belied her gray muzzle with her exuberance and willing heart. 

She baby sat kittens, her soft fur soaked up tears and her gentle snores as she lay at the door, always at the door lest someone try to enter, kept me company through many sleepless nights.

In 2010 she fled the housefire after the girls, her fear of loud trucks and fire overwhelming her.  A neighbour caught her and returned her to my girls as they waited for me and watched the fire ;/ She stood beside them when I got there and when we checked into the motel later that day, she laid herself down at the door.  Likewise at the rental home. 

You just knew to open the door slowly because as she grew older she didn't always hear us and sometimes we had to give a little nudge of the door against her to get her to move.  However that hearing loss wasn't apparent when a stranger knocked. She was as upright and alert as a young dog in her prime.

Slowly her age caught up with her.  Soccer sessions grew shorter and fetch was only one or two tosses before eager as she was, her panting was too obvious to continue.  Walks with my daughter grew shorter.  Instead of walking her all the way to school she'd go midway and watch her till she got to the school yard before heading home.  Likewise with her trips to the park to swing, once there Girl would flop on her side and wait, but if daughter took too long she'd get up and give her a look. "I'll meet you at home." Shake out her coat and amble home.

Seizures started to punctuate her days.  Likely connected to the head injury that she had when found.  The time had come.  The decision was made.   In January she had one that she didn't come out of and she ended her days with her head in my lap as I sat on the floor with my back against the door. 

(Don't even begin to chastise me about not taking her to a vet, I tried, but they were far more interested in my method of payment than providing this final release to her. And yes, if you ask me I will tell you the names of the three vets I called begging them to let me bring her right in).

We adjusted, or at least tried to.  At night, I could hear her toenails on the kitchen floor as she patrolled the house, checking the doors before settling down for the night.  At least, I imagined I could.  

Coming home had a different flavor to it; there was no bacon in the house and no spontaneous trips to DQ for ice cream because not getting her a small dish of it was just too sad.

Years before we'd felt this sort of loss, when our boxers, Bop and Keys left us, the same as how they came, six months apart.  Over the years we'd broached the idea of another boxer, but the timing never seemed right.  Yes, we all wanted a boxer but couldn't quite face the idea of a replacement because that's how we would have viewed any boxer coming into our lives at that time.

"So get this.  I got offered a boxer for free. 2 issues..." the text from my daughter in ON started.  Thus began a series of events that simply clicked into place, culminating with the arrival of Bronx in our life.

Normally deciding to take in an adult dog would be a much harder decision for me.  I love that people rescue animals and obviously, Girl's rescue was a success.  There's always this niggling thought for me, someone's habits, bad or good are involved. 

There was none of that. My response to this text was an expression of sadness for the owner and the circumstances involved and a question. "So should I tell D to pick him up?"

Many texts and phone calls later, Bronx arrived a little over a week ago.  A lovely mannered, happy boxer who manages to "look a little like Keys and a little like Bop all at once" -- as expressed by nearly everyone who knew them and has now met him; while all the while being his own dog.


Wednesday, May 08, 2013

I'm a Fan

I wrote this blog entry on another blog some years ago when Doyle *Doc* Mullaney had to pull out of the 2005 season.

I've edited it a little to clear out some snark about links and such like as they have no place in this tribute.

Doyle Mullaney passed away a couple of days ago. I read that he was fighting a grass fire on his land and had what was apparently a heart attack.

I've seen lots of tributes to him, one of the posts on Facebook definitely made me catch my breath on a sob.  "The shamrocks are flying somewhere else today". If you know chuckwagons, then you know what that means.

His service announcement  is here.


Doc Mullaney has been a fixture of the Chucks for 42 years, and for health reasons has had to leave the Rangeland Derby this year, in midstream. That seriously sucks. Now in that great article (the writing was good, the online department *comment removed in the interest of good taste) it was mentioned that it hadn't yet been decided whether Doc's wagon would be driven by other drivers (a not unprecedented occurance; the most well known incident perhaps when Richard Cosgrove's wagon was driven for the entire week following his death during a race in BC shortly before the Stampede), or whether the next ranked driver would come up the ranks.

None of that matters, although from a what's really right in my personal viewpoint, the former is the most appropriate solution.

The Doc is gone... maybe for good, from the chucks and that's the important part. While he might not be as famous as Micheal Jordan or various other *sports* figures, he's a local legend around here.

Being a lover of all things Irish, I was quite enthralled by the shamrocks on his wagon, the leprechaun remarks and good natured jokes about his Irishness, when I first arrived in the big city (aka Calgary) in '79. Chuckwagon racing has to be experienced to be understood, and not just from the grandstand my friends. Not necessarily from the seat of the wagon either, but there's a certain *feel* that you either have for it or you don't. And by the way, if you don't get chucks and rodeo, please don't clutter up my comments with pita/peta remarks, 'kay? I couldn't freaking care less what those folks have to say.


Back to Doctor Doyle. He's never been a *star*, not going to hold the records, or post the times of the Bashaw Flash, and he doesn't have the 4 generation standpoint of the Glass family but he's been my favourite driver since '79 and since this is my blog that counts a lot. :P

His career thus far

In the early '90's not only was he my favourite driver, but he was also my favourite veterinarian. I doubt he recalls the hug I gave him following a fellow driver's untimely death, when I arrived at his clinic that monday to pick up some meds for a pet. There he was, a giant of a man, with tears in his eyes, doing what he did because what else was he to do. His friend had died, that was the chance they all take.

But I can sure tell you I recall the one he gave me when he put down our cat (he'd been severely injured and we'd waited some time to see if the injury would heal); enfolding me in his large arms and holding me close as I sobbed like a 5 yo who'd lost her best friend. Telling me all the while how hard I'd worked to save him and how I'd given him more chances than most would have to get well and that yes, this had been the best solution and I was brave to have done it.

I'm also not likely to forget the tears in his eyes when I told him that the pug puppy he'd saved from parvo had been killed by smoke inhalation during a fire at the campground we were at. This vet who has been described to me as unfeeling, rough handed and abrupt (by some) held this tiny dehydrated puppy in his hands, putting in a line, swearing a blue streak I'll give you that, but the hands? The hands were as gentle as if he held a newborn babe. He fed this pup baby food by finger tip and his assistant even told me he'd taken her home to give her extra TLC. The bill? It wasn't much, Tushi survived and loved to visit the Doc.

This is the fellow that I recall a few years ago, after a rather bad wreck at the Stampede, shouldering past the eager reporter who put a mike in his face to get a sound bite. Doc growled, something to the effect of: do you mind, a friend of mine is hurt. The friend he's referring to? His horses. Quite a sound bite if you ask me.

Doc has been graced with the following awards:

1980 Battle Of The North Champion
Meadow Lake Stampede Champion
1982 WPCA Active Supporter Award
1983 WPCA Active Supporter Award
1984 WPCA Active Supporter Award
1985 WPCA Most Improved Outfit Award
1986 WPCA Active Supporter Award
1993 WPCA Chuckwagon Person Of The Year
1995 Fort Nelson Chuckwagon Champion
1996 Fort Nelson Chuckwagon Champion
2002 WPCA Clean Drive Award

Not a bad record for 42 years by any one's standards.

Here's my hat, Doctor Doyle. Here's my cheer when you leave the barrels and here's my thanks for being my favourite driver for all these years.

EDIT to add:  He celebrated his 50th year in Chuckwagons recently.  Please see the website for more information on Doc and other drivers as well as the current season.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Still a volunteer I guess :)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. There's many a started and stopped draft in my folders.  

I  wanted to a time or two, out of outrage and out of wanting to share a ‘moment’ and for some reason I’ve gotten out of the habit.

So the other day, I had a chance to help out at a Senior Pro Rodeo.  These cowboys and cowgirls are over 40 and at some point competed at a pro level in rodeo. 

There are a few accommodations made for age and somewhat more brittle bones.  But for the most part these guys  and gals are competing under the same rules and conditions they would in a regular rodeo.

There are a few more for fun  events, like the rope and ribbon event where a roper ropes a calf and gets off their horse to control the calf, while his partner (a woman) snags the ribbon off the calf and races back to the chute.  There’s a lot of good-natured jeering as often enough it’s a husband and wife.

So anyway, I’m sitting at the little table I’m assigned to, selling tickets and because it was slack the crowd was a little thin.  I took advantage and was knitting along on a glove I’m making.

While one of the other volunteers and I were chatting we noticed an older cowboy approaching us. By the way he was holding his body, we could tell he was hurting.

As he came up to us, we greeted him in the way one does and we started talking about the rodeo and how it was going and such like.

He told us about how he’d torn his bicep in a previous rodeo and how that was making him use his other hand for bullriding.  I won’t go into how lipstick came up but we shared a chuckle about his using some bright red lipstick to mark his hand so he’d remember to tie in with the correct hand.

I’d offered him an advil jokingly as he had joined us and now he turned to me and said that he needed far more than an advil.  I agreed, nodding at his arm.  He said, well yes, that and my son died last night.

The other volunteer and I just… stared at each other.  We didn’t know how to answer him as he’d spoken in such a matter of fact tone.  Of course we expressed our sympathies at his loss but the conversation had come to a standstill.

He went on to tell us how his son had been disabled and how it wasn’t unexpected but still felt sudden all the same. He mentioned how everything felt out of kilter, like he'd forgotten to do something.

What floored us both was his indication that he was riding that night.  I understand that. Sometimes when life has taken an extreme corner or reversal, something usual is very welcome to give an oasis in the storm of the change.

This man, well past the age most people would consider tying themselves to a bull for the chance of an 8 second ride.  His body in pain from the injury to his arm and his heart hurting from the loss of his son, he was still going to compete; for that was his usual.

This is why I volunteer to work at rodeos; these glimpses of the real definition of ‘cowboy up’.