Things I’m *NOT* Doing

This trying to get back in the habit of writing/blogging regularly isn’t going so well. Thankfully, there are always Sunday Sundries, so I can just throw mud at the wall and see what sticks. Here’s a quick update with the theme of things I’m NOT doing:

  • Cruising the aisles in the grocery store – They could charge me an arm and a leg and I’d still opt in. I have always hated grocery shopping, and now, I don’t have to! My time is valuable, and never again will I have to lose my temper at self-checkout. I first tried it on a hot summer day when I couldn’t leave THE GIRL in the car, but didn’t want to have to take her home and come back to town. I’m hooked. My substitutions have been less than one per order, and honestly, they pick better meat and produce than I do.
  • Traditional shampoo/conditioner haircare – I’ve been a fan of “co-wash” since I first tried Wen, way back. (Thanks, Ruth!) My hair prefers a different brand, but at least once a week, sometimes twice, I reach for the conditioning wash rather than traditional shampoo. After a frizzy summer, I’m researching and dabbling with the Curly Girl Method and letting my waves run wild. (My hair has been described as surly – not straight, not curly – and that’s accurate. It can lean in either direction, but the only thing I can count on is my hair will do what it wants.)
  • Not going to the gym – As with pre-ordering my groceries and having them almost magically appear in my car, this wasn’t planned, but COVID played its part. Gyms closed, and while they have re-opened, I haven’t gone back. I hit ladies group when I can on Saturdays, but otherwise, I’m doing my own thing. It feels safer on so many levels, and while I miss barbells and a huge selection of dumbbells and kettlebells, I’m doing just fine with my very limited offerings at home.
  • Reading – This one needs to change. I miss reading, but can’t seem to pick up any of the dozens of books waiting to be read. I’ve managed a few here and there, but can’t seem to get back in the habit.

What are YOU not doing? Any tips for me on online grocery procurement, making peace with my wild hair, or how to re-connect with my lifelong reading habit?

Scrambler

Remember the word association game? Someone says a word and you say the first word that comes to mind. Today’s word is Scrambler. The “game” started yesterday at work, and to be fair, the first two people knew they were on the same page.

Let’s stop right there. What do YOU see/think when I say scrambler?

Third person confessed he was confused; context made it clear he wasn’t on the right page. He KNEW there was no carnival ride in the parking lot. Google Images to the rescue; there are a HOST of Jeep Scramblers there.

I kinda’ feel life is just a big ol’ scramble for a lot of us right now, with the confusion of a game of telephone mixed with the word association game too. Almost everything is more complicated than it should be, and that adds stress.

For me, I’m managing that stress with sweat. No… I’m still not going to the gym, but I am working out at home. It’s still too hot for running most of the time, but that’s okay because my running partner is currently napping. We worked yesterday, and a long, full workday leaves her exhausted for at least the next day. Before I blame it on her age, she did also pitch in and help cut grass yesterday evening when we got home, so it’s not as though she’s slowing down!

I also have a phenomenal support system. We all need people in our lives who have our backs, make us laugh and build us up. Everyone needs work colleagues who know what your coffee order is, who draw smiley faces on paperwork, etc. We should all have a friend or two who sends well-timed memes, even in a work email.

On that note, let’s lighten it up. Here’s a list of sundries based on my work world:

  • Dunkin’ over Starbucks. Large iced, 2 whole milk, 2 flavor swirls.
  • Blue gel ink, not fine point.
  • All the pink “clickable” highlighters, with a green or two in reserve.
  • Chrome, even when a website says it may perform better something else.
  • Don’t give me papers; share it in Google Docs or if you’re old school, send a digital file.
  • Salty over sweet, but please Covid, bring the popcorn machine back!
  • Filtered water, but if it has to be a soda, make it Dr. Pepper.
  • ALL the post-its. Baby notes for brief comments, traditional (UNLINED!!) squares for most, but sometimes a message requires the double-sized version.

What are your not so secret keys to a happy desk life?

Essential Services

The firefighter I used to be laughed at automotive services being declared essential services. Yes, we are the contracted vehicle maintenance shop for the University and some local police, fire and rescue units, but then yesterday, two doctors thanked us for being open because they too need to remain mobile.

This is not a time for judgment. I’d argue it’s never wise to judge, but that’s another story for another time. There are plenty of folks talking about what you should and shouldn’t do, and I’m not an expert, so…

What is essential? Good food. Exercise. Fresh air. Staying connected. I’m grateful my tribe filled my voids; I now have rice, broccoli and ground beef. I also found a silly, wonderful peanut butter whiskey (see my Facebook or Instagram) and crafted what I’m calling Eggs Benny-ish.

I love eggs Benedict. I bought The Pampered Chef stoneware egg pan just to do poached eggs. This morning, I felt the urge to break it in, but alas, no English Muffins, no Canadian Bacon. I rarely follow a recipe as written, so…

Eggs cooked per instructions ( 80 seconds on high in microwave). Biscuits split, covered with cheddar and deli ham, then put back in the warm (but turned off) oven whilst whipping up the hollandaise sauce. Eggs added on top, sauce slopped on and… yum.

How goes it where you are? What can we do to help?

Gretchen wants it known she had her teeth brushed today. She didn’t fight me nearly as much as I anticipated. We will be doing it at least once weekly from here on out, more often if I can figure out the routine.

Customer Service

I took a day off last week to go to the Social Security office and to DMV, along with a few other spots, in pursuit of making my legal name-change official. (So yes, if you don’t follow me on Facebook, I have returned to my maiden name. Really though, once this election season is over, just Chan or Channon is plenty. [And if you are local, no I’m NOT Chan Bryant. We both use Chan as a nickname, but our given names are notably different, and I am not running for sheriff.])

I am going to guess DMV and Social Security offices look a lot alike all over the country. It would be foolhardy to suggest our local DMV is the only one understaffed, using a convoluted alpha-numeric “take a number” system (that actually has some logic behind it, strangely enough), but our local DMV has had a reputation for poor customer service and very long wait times, so I was only hoping that I’d get done with both efforts (literally across the street from each other, so no travel time involved) in time to tackle few other errands before the close of business.

I reviewed the requirements, filled out the applications and double-checked my documents before I headed out. I didn’t take it as a good sign when I met a computer kiosk for check-in at Social Security, but I waited fewer than five minutes, and wasn’t with the efficient representative in the back much longer than that before I exited with the receipt saying my new card would be in the mail.

Riding that wave, I was optimistic when I went across the street to DMV. I wasn’t shocked to hear I couldn’t get a Real ID without the actual Social Security Card, and given that I have no big travel plans ahead, I happily enough proceeded with the “Federal Limits Apply” version. After less than 10 minutes, my number was called and I found myself in front of the friendliest person ever to work at DMV. She answered a few almost random questions I had about the name change, Real IDs and more, and again, I was on my way with less than an hour invested in BOTH offices.

Next stop was the bank. My bank is actually a credit union, and for thirty years, we’ve had a love-hate relationship. Every time I am about to break up with them, someone with exemplary customer service wins me back. The branch manager at my favorite location won me back in spades after my purse was stolen last fall. The entire mortgage department locked me in indefinitely time and time again over the winter-to-spring refinance debacle (not their fault and not a story worth revisiting), and the two tellers I saw last Friday continued on the remarkable trend. Even their annoying app that brought me to tears the night of the stolen purse (no ability to shut down my card through the app!) is being continually improved.

It was a day filled with women dishing out good service with a smile, and I feel the universe owes them all this mention, even though they’ll likely never see it. I don’t know that I’ve mentioned much at all about my job in years, but the thread of customer service is continuous, from firefighter/medic/dispatcher to today’s Service Coordinator in a multi-franchise, spanning much of the state automotive dealership.

When pressed to define what I do, I laugh and say I bat clean-up. Others say I’m a Jill of all trades. The manufacturers I hold credentials with would likely say I’m alphabet soup (BDC, service advisor, brand champion, etc.), but in the end, I spend all day trying to assure happy customers, happy technicians, sane service advisors and more. So when I am on the receiving end, I have very high expectations of customer service and at the same time, I try to be very patient and tolerant when those hopes are dashed. I hope for good service, and I want to be as gracious as is humanly possible when I’m disappointed. I know some days it’s harder than others to leave not-work on the back burner while you are working, and almost without fail, the person waiting on you isn’t intentionally raining on your parade.

When was the last time you had great customer service? What businesses have earned your loyalty and trust?

And are you a customer who inspires above-and-beyond levels of service? There’s one customer in particular who is my role model. I met her just before she was diagnosed with cancer. Even when her brother had to drive her and the car in for service, she was radiant and exuded joy as she introduced him to me and thanked me for inquiring about her health. I think of her when I know my foul mood is showing, and it inspires me to exhale and smile whether I want to or not.

There’s a co-worker who is sarcastic and very much a realist, but he NEVER fails to speak or tap on my desk as he goes by, even if it’s the 15th time we’ve crossed paths before lunch. He’s the one who dubbed me Chanpagne. He just has an easy, humorous way about him, and even when he’s griping, I laugh. He also finds acerbic yet publicly appropriate ways to call me out when I have let someone get under my skin. We can’t all be PollyAnnas, but we can all make others’ days brighter, in our own ways.

So thank you, to those of you who have been along for the ride through the various renditions of my blog. Kindness and candor are always appreciated here, and many of you have helped me, taught me, more than you know.