Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween! (And Happy Anniversary!)

Today is a great day. Not only is is Halloween (so we get to see a whole bunch of ghosts and goblins running around), but today is the one-year anniversary of Lennie & I dating. Yep, that's right: one year ago today, we had our first date at Red Robin. That was a really good day. No, that was a really great day.

So, Lennie, Happy Anniversary. I love you!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Spread Thin?

Seems that I've been suffering from "Can't Say No To Anything And Now Have An Over Stuffed Schedule" Syndrome. The result: I'm exhausted, I don't know which way is up, and I just want to go home and do some laundry (the laundry basket is just about at DEF-CON Two status). If someone out there has invented a time machine, or other mechanism to make the day a whole heck of a lot longer, I'm all ears! :-)


... I'm not really sure where I'm going to go with this post, so bare with me.

A Helping Hand
The church group that I'm active in has put together small bags of food (cup o' noodle, granola bars, etc.) for homeless people, and we hand them out as the spirit moves us throughout our travels. Seeing as I work downtown, I tend to see a lot of homeless people in my daily travels. So, I've started carrying a bag with me every day to work and handing it out as I walk to and from the bus, etc. Within the last week, I would say that I have handed out 5 or so bags to homeless/needy people. The last two hand outs, however, have left me feeling a little more cynical than I would like.

Here's a scenario: I'm waiting for the bus on Monday afternoon, and a clearly homeless person comes up to me and waggles a fast food cup in front of me
Spare some change?
they ask me.

I reply, "Are you hungry?"

They say, "I don't want to take your food from you... but if you could spare some change..."

Meanwhile, I'm digging in my bag and pulling out the Ziplock full of goodies.
"No," I reply, "This is especially for you. Enjoy."

The person takes the bag, says thank you, and turns to walk away. (And here's the kicker...)

They turn back around and say "Yeah, but can you spare some change?"

How is one supposed to respond to that?

Flash to this morning... I walk out of my standard morning Starbucks stop, coffee in hand, and see a homeless person seeking shelter in the doorway of the Banana Republic. I cross the street, pull out my bag, and ask him if he would like something to eat. I failed to notice the other homeless man asleep under the blanket.
He hears me giving food to the first person and says, "Can I have one of those too?"
I only have one bag with me, so I politely back pedal. That's all fine and dandy.
But then the first person says, "You know, I could really use some money instead. Can't you give me money instead?"

So here's the question: how do I respond to something like this? I feel like these people are ungrateful for what I am giving them, and are wanting to take advantage of me. I don't expect them to throw a ticker tape parade for me (after all, it is "just" a bag of food), but it certainly doesn't make me want to help people out if they're just going to brush aside what I've done for them already and expect more out of me. It's not like money grows on trees, and I feel like I work pretty hard for what I have. (It's the old debate: why can't these people go out and get jobs too, instead of asking me for my money...) Anyhow, I don't want to stop doing good works, but I just want to figure out how to not walk away from these encounters feeling cynical and bitter. Any thoughts?

Random sidebar comment: I was told by my out-of-town coworkers (one from Texas and another from Minnesota) that Seattle seems to have an inordinately high population of homeless people. I wonder how true this comment/observation is... when I was in junior high school (back in the dark ages, right?), I did a report on homelessness in Seattle, and there was a theory that because many (most?) homeless people are mentally ill, they tend to follow the sun -- which rises in the east and sets in the west -- therefore, they start to migrate to the West coast, and ultimately end up in places like Seattle and Santa Monica because there's no point further west.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


I think that I found the place that I want to bake my wedding cake. :-) See today's article from Reuters. Diamonds are a girl's best friend, you know...

... now if only I could find that $20 million that I had scraped up to pay for the cake. {Grin}

Monday, October 16, 2006

I Shake My Fist At You Sprint!

So I must say, today is the first day in just over a week that I have not received a marketing call from Sprint on my cell phone. It was a blissfully quiet day for me on the phone front, which was refreshing after what I went through last week.

Seems that Sprint has decided that my cell phone can be called by their automatic dialers to offer me an additional phone line. Now, they started calling on a Sunday night... yes, that made me really happy. Then they called on Monday, but didn't leave a message. On Tuesday, I called the number back (I was intrigued as to why this 866 number was stalking me) and I spoke with a representative directly. He made me the offer, I declined, and thought that I was done with them. But noooooooooooo, seems that Sprint didn't think that I really know what I meant when I declined their offer. Yep, that's right, they kept calling... Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. So, I decided to strike back. As a marketer, I knew that the National Do Not Call registration 1. prohibited them from calling my cell phone to market to me and 2. that they were legally bound to honor my request to be removed from their marketing lists. So, I called Sprint Customer Care -- actually, they should rename it to Customer SCARE. Seems that the first person that I talked to said that I had to call the US Government, or more precisely, the National Do Not Call Registry, as that was the only way that I could remove my phone from their calling lists. Riiiighhhhttt. (Just for the record, Sprint, you're messing with the wrong customer. I know my rights.) For my troubles, I was "rewarded" with 100 free text messages (whoopppeee!) for this next billing cycle. Have I mentioned that my billing cycle ends in 6 days?

Thursday -- I called Customer Scare again... was given a different answer. "Did I go online..." was the question this time. Yet, I wonder, why aren't the Sprint Customer Scare agents empowered to do the right thing for their customers? Ponder that one and let me know, would ya?

Fast forward to Friday afternoon. Another lovely call from the Promotions Department at Sprint. Hey, do I want another phone line yet? Nope. Still don't. Now I'm mad. And now we begin the third call to Customer Scare. After twenty minutes of stop-and-go customer "service," the lady assures me that I will never get another marketing call from Sprint again. (HA!) In fact, she has gone through "every screen" in the system and made sure that I was marked as "do not market to." I was once again "rewarded" with another 300 free text messages in my billing cycle, and as a bonus, 100 free minutes. Woo. My fingers should be tired from all of the text messaging I'm doing, huh? Not so.

Saturday -- for once, my phone didn't ring from Sprint. Ahhhh, I think that her magic finally worked. Wait for it...

Sunday -- is that my phone ringing again? Yep, it is. I cut the Promotions person off mid-sentence and said "I really don't want your offer, and frankly, I don't like that this is the sixth time in five days that I've had to tell you this." Do you know what she said to me? (This one got me steamed!) "I didn't make those last five calls, so it's not my problem. {click}" Yep, that's a happy Sprint employee, isn't it? Now I'm mad. So, I called Customer SCARE once again. (Note: this is the fifth or sixth time that I've talked to a Sprint representative in seven days, I'm kind of tired of them...) I asked (wisely?) for a supervisor this time, thinking that would help. Not so much. Here's the gist of the conversation:
Me: "I'm a single woman who does not need another phone line. I've asked repeatedly to be removed from your marketing list THIS WEEK, how hard is this to do?"

Him: "Hmmmm... I can see how you say that." STARTS LAUGHING AT ME.

Yes, laughing. I officially don't like him. I am assured that he has once again gone through every screen (and he claims that he doesn't see any of the other markings for my do not mail requests) and marked in "big red letters" that I will cancel my account if they ever call me again. He doesn't know how right he is. Oh baby. I think that I may start personally calling these people if they should choose to contact me via cell phone ever again. In fact, I'm going to take their personal cell numbers and call them at odd hours of the day. I think that's fitting, don't you?

So here's the moral of the story:
  • Don't mess with your customers. (This is a tough one, but I think you can do it.)

  • When your customer says, SIX TIMES, that they don't want your offer, they probably mean it.

  • And when they say "do not market to me," multiple times, your customer scare agents should be empowered to do it. After all, it's the law.

Don't believe me that it's the law, then here's a quote from the National Do Not Call web site:

Yes, you may place your personal cell phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. The registry has accepted cell phone numbers since it opened for registrations in June 2003. There is no deadline to register a home or cell phone number on the Registry.

You may have received an email telling you that your cell phone is about to be assaulted by telemarketing calls as a result of a new cell phone number database; however, that is not the case. FCC regulations prohibit telemarketers from using automated dialers to call cell phone numbers. Automated dialers are standard in the industry, so most telemarketers don’t call consumers on their cell phones without their consent.

So, Sprint, I shake my fist at you. Please don't be surprised when I pull my account from you, and go to a company (I don't know which one, btw) that actually treats it's customers with respect. A novel concept, I know...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

United Kingdom Adventures

Hello and greetings from Birmingham, UK!

It's been an adventure exploring Birmingham over the past few days, and I've learned a lot -- about myself, the UK, and tradeshows abroad. A few random observations:

Smoking. Those of us from the West coast of the United States, and more precisely from Washington State, don't know how good we have it. Seems that those smoke-free public areas aren't something tha we should take for granted. Fresh air is good. (Not that there isn't fresh air here, it's just that smoking is a lot more sociable here, which is not so grand for people like me who are allergic to it...)

Pure green beauty. The English countryside is beautiful. I can't say enough about the great green stretches of land that I've observed, and the beautiful flowers in Birmingham and Solihull. I could only wish for such lush flower gardens!

Trains rule. I definitely have an appreciation for the public transit set-up here, and love that I can hop a train between the NEC (National Exhibition Centre) and downtown at any given time. Convenience is a wonderful thing!

Tradeshows are definitely different here. It's a different atmosphere on the tradeshow floor than in the States. I'm not used to having hired beauties walking around giving out handbills, nor am I used to having performers dancing down the aisles to get people to go to a vendor's stand. I can't completely put my finger on it, but it's different than I'm used to, that's for sure.

Starbucks. Current sighting count = 6. Current number of times I've gone in and purchased anything = 0. Yep, so far, I've gone Starbucks free. Don't worry, I will breakdown before long! :-)

I'm having fun. But don't worry, friends and family, not too much fun. I'll be home soon, I promise. :-)