Sunday, 21 January 2018

Canadians on Phones Not Drinking Coffee

Rainy gray weather with expectations of more snow cause thoughts to turn to piles of hot coffee.

(This may because am doing a two week detox with no access to coffee.)

Thoughts also turn to summer vacation and no time like the present to nail down annual beach vacation which includes a ferry reservation and they sell coffee on the boat.

Credit card declined.

Try again, maybe mistyped or forgot to check I ACCEPT box.


Sip mint tea. Shed tear.

Try again, use Second Credit Card.


Realize this may have happened before, tracing to Canadian Postal Codes which have letters in them and therefore are not recognized by Zip Code box.

Glance longingly at Travel Mug and call Customer Service.

Blah blah blah ferry reservation, blah blah declined, blah blah Canadian.

Oh, Hon. Customer Service says. I don't have access to those reservations yet. I will only have them on my computer as of January 30th. Till then, you can only book online.

But I can't book online. I have free healthcare.

Wish I can help ya. Maybe try typing in your Zip without the lettahs (best part of calling Massachussetts).

Try without lettahs.


Sip mint tea again. Nine more days.

Try several more things that don't work.

Call Customer Service back.

Someone else answers the phone.

Blah blah blah ferry reservation blah blah declined blah blah Canadian. Is there a way around this?

Yeah, sure Hon. I'm going to sell you a Gift Cahd, and then you're going to use the Gift Cahd to pay for the reservation. How much is your reservation?

It disappeared while I was clicking around looking for your phone numbah, I mean, number. Should I call you back?

I'll hold while you find it.

Find it, type it in, get desired reservation, pay using Gift Cahd. Check, check, check.

Thank you to Customer Service Person Two for giving me excellent Customer Service.

Maybe if I call a third time someone will pour me a coffee.

Complaint Lessons Learned:

1. Sometimes Customer Service people actually want to give excellent customer service.
2. If you don't get what you want, you can call back and try again. Chances are you will get someone else who wants to help you.
3. If you are looking online for a two week detox, try to find one that's sponsored by someone who knows what they're doing.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Pineapple Fanta Was My Favourite

Have a Google Alert set to my name. Usually this means alerts about someone named Amy who caught a large Bass in a Southern state.

(This information will become relevant in a sec. )

Land in Atlanta and first stop is diner breakfast for omelettes and spuds for farm to table poached eggs and slices of organic hydroponic free trade tomato.

Diner packed which means we chose well and people not necessarily being served in the order in which their call was received in order of arrival.

Servers wearing t-shirts that say on the back "Relax...It's Just Eggs."

How Perfect Is That.

Day Three in Atlanta give talk about how to deal with complaints. Mention in talk that not every complaint resolution has to be complicated and that sometimes we need to "Relax...It's Just Eggs."

Day Four in Atlanta more fun was had as an example go to World of Coke and drink all kinds of sugary drinks including an Asian soda that tastes like veggies very fresh glasses of water.

Ok, Amy, so are people in Atlanta named Amy? Are they catching fish?

Probably and probably but didn't meet any of either.

Did the World of Coke have a fish flavour?

Mercifully no.

So where are we going here?

(Trust me.)

Home a few weeks when Google Alert blinks with Amy Fish and guess what. It's me.

Turns out someone at the talk was writing a story and I had no idea.

Click here to read it and see the photo of me in uniform.

Lessons Learned:
1. Be careful what you say in a talk because there might be someone quoting you and you don't even realize it.
2. Yes I was fishing in a Southern state but not in the traditional sense of the word.

Monday, 27 November 2017

There Was No Bundt Cake Either

Husband's work friend's life partner goes for ultrasound.


Doctor writes gender of twins on papers and puts in envelope.

Seals it.

Husband tells me, gender(s) will be revealed at Spare-No-Expense His &Hers Team Pink or Team Blue Baby Shower in November.

OMG. I hope we get invited to that. It will be like reality television. But, like, real.

I hope they have a bundt cake.

(Be careful what you wish for.)

Shower day fraught with competing events that land us in elegant reception hall around 3pm, having missed the first buffet at 1:30pm but arriving just in time for sit down dinner. Pasta, green salad, steak, veal, wine, champagne, flower centrepieces, photo booth, fantastic DJ.

Gender has not yet been revealed.

In between courses people play games like how quickly can you hang laundry on the line while carrying two babies and a cel phone.

No indication yet as to gender of babies.

Pink and blue balloons, pink and blue tablecloths, flowers, gifts and stunning display of all the communal gifts purchased with communal cash that would not look out of place in a royal nursery, except that the royal nursery probably already knows what gender babies are and is governing itself accordingly.

Open bar.

Espresso bar.

Plates of cake passed around with fresh berries.

Three hours have elapsed.

Candy bar now open. Doughnuts, jellies, marshmallows, cupcakes, cake pops, sprinkled pretzels and baby themed cookies.

All in pink and blue.

We have been here for close to four hours. Husband passed restless three espressos ago.

We have to stay. I plead. We have invested so much into this. We need to know whether these are boys or girls or both.

Two giant black balloons at the Head Table contain what I first thought were the slips of paper but then Husband pointed out deduced that must mini balloons inside, colour coded for Team Pink or Team Blue.

DJ starts talking.

This is it.

We are going to find out now.

I clasp Husband's hand just as DJ offers his announcement:

Sweet table now open. 
Spaghetti, sausage, pizza, giant bowls of fruit, more cake, pastries, mousse (pink and blue), macarons (pink and blue).

Listen. Husband says. The sun has set. It's almost 7pm. I can not stay in this room for one more second. We will have to find out another time whether work friend (that you have met barely twice) and his life partner (to whom you have just been introduced) are having boys girls or both.  You will need to get over this.

Complaint Lessons Learned
  1. The idea that pink is for girls and blue is for boys may be outdated, offensive and politically incorrect, but it really makes for a beautiful party. 
  2. Going to a gender reveal shower and leaving before the gender is revealed is an unsatisfying experience no matter how many pink and blue cake pops they throw at you. 
  3. Letting people choose their own genders may not be a bad idea especially if it keeps baby showers to a two hour limit.
  4. If either of these babies decides to change their genders and reveal them at a shower when they grow up I hope the food is half as good.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Complexity of High School Athletics

12 year old daughter T trying out for school basketball team.

Also on overnight field trip with school.

Coming back at 3:30pm, tryouts at 5pm, perfect.

T arranges lift home with Friend. Enough time to change and have quick snack and run back to school.

T leaves for field trip.

New information: Friend is only picking up at 4:15pm. Will not be able to get T home in time to change and turn back around and get to school for 5pm.

But T doesn't have stuff with her because was planning to come home in between field trip and tryouts.

Change in plan.

Tryouts changed to 4pm.

Need to meet her at school w her stuff at 3:30pm.


I have work meeting that can't be changed.

Husband has physio appointment that can't be changed.

Solution: Pack her bag and drop it at school so that she can pick it up at 3:30pm and get ready for tryouts at 4pm.


Not so fast.

Change in plan.

Tryouts changed back to 5pm, they are doing work on gym floor.

T calls from field trip and is devastated by turn of events.

Can  not be expected to entertain self (what if battery runs out) for 45 minutes in between bus arrival and tryouts.

Change work meeting to pick up T at 3:30pm and provide entertainment and snacks (in addition to the three I packed in her gym back and dropped at school at 8am so that it would be waiting for her when she got off the bus).

Not so fast.

Change in plan.

Field trip running late and T will not be back till 4:15pm or 4:30pm.

But basketball stuff now in school office which closes at 4pm.

Need to leave work to be at school to pick stuff back up from office where I left it this morning so that it would be ready for her when she finished field trip which is now late and while I was at work meeting which is now cancelled.

Complaint Lessons Learned:

1. Flexibility in athletes more important than ever
2. Changing direction on the court means being able to change direction so you actually get to the court
3. Next time you are watching athletes on TV think about all the office doors that almost locked with their gym stuff in it, and all the parents that cancelled work meetings to get them there

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

The Bilingual Advantage

So like yeah Mme. Notimportant said the F word today.

Pardon me?

Yeah. She was complaining about how we did on the spring concert which like I really think we did great didn't you Mom?

Of course.

Yeah. So like anyway she was like you guys really F'd up. You came down the stairs on the left side and you were supposed to come down on the right side, and then the kids on the right side came down on the middle side.

(Middle is not a side.)

Huh. So it wasn't even about the singing part of the concert?

No. That's the weird thing. It was about the line. But she said it all in French, obviously. So Mom, can you like call the school?

Um, well you are actually in the school so don't you think this would make more sense coming from you?

Well since you're a parent don't you think - oh, actually that's rude. How come we never have any bananas? I want a banana. I don't want to talk to the school can you do it.

Hello is the vice-principal there please? I have to speak to him about coarse language, viewer discretion is advised an important issue?

Hi, this is Mr. Vice Principal. What can I do for you?

(Explain situation).

Well, you aren't the first person to call me to complain about this.


And it seems there is a simple explanation.

I'm listening.

Mme. Notimportant is French? And in French, in Quebec, the F word is not particularly offensive. It's something you'd say to your grandmother. Especially as a verb, as it was used in this context.

Seriously? What if your grandmother doesn't speak French?

Yes. So Mme. N, without realizing that the kids would take it the wrong way, used F in a French sentence, where it is considerably less offensive than in an English phrase where it would be considered grounds for dismissal significantly more impactful.

She has apologized to the children.

Reasons Why We're Lucky to Live in Montreal

1. The public schools are still warm and fuzzy and you can get the Vice Principal on the phone in a flash.

2. Everyone thinks it's normal for a teacher to apologize to students.

3. As long as you swear in the appropriate official language, you will not get in trouble.

4. If you run out of bananas, you can give your kids poutine.

Monday, 14 August 2017

No Such Thing As A

12 year old daughter T has complicated lunchbox needs for the following reasons:
  1. She does not like sandwiches
  2. She does not like roll-ups, tacos or anything else masquerading as a sandwich
  3. She was on the Green Committee and now only uses re-usable containers
  4. She really hates cooking and would rather take out the garbage than help me in the kitchen
  5. Every meal must feature ketchup (except for organic salami which calls for mustard)
This is further intensified by the fact that she leads an insanely active lifestyle which means:
  1. She technically should be having 2-4 different vegetables at each meal
  2. She will only eat veggies raw, and no mixing of species allowed
  3. Packaged foods are laughably out of the question
  4. She needs to pack a lot of snacks to keep fueling up properly
  5. Her meals have to be kept at the correct temperature as she moves through her day
Which has led me to do the following:
  1. Peruse Pinterest for healthy snack ideas
  2. Order an organic local farmer vegetable box in addition to Costco and fruit store shopping
  3. Bake blueberry muffins at 6am
  4. Buy many miniature ice packs
  5. Continue a fruitless (haha) search for the world's largest lunchbox that is also not embarrassing

As an example, this is what we packed yesterday:
  1. Two roasted chicken legs and rice
  2. Ketchup
  3. Cucumbers
  4. Peapods
  5. Pre-cut grapefruit
  6. Cheese triangles (2)
  7. Blueberry muffin 
That was all background information for you.

Now, please join me in my car yesterday as we drop T off at a full day of basketball camp. Today they will be doing drills. For eight hours.

We say goodbye, wish her a great day.

Drive three minutes to work.

Swipe card at underground parking.

Pull into spot.

It is 8:57am.

Phone rings.

Hey, Mom?

Yes, sweetie? You ok?

I. I, forgot my lunch at home.

Things That Crossed My Mind
  1. Establishing complex and non-negotiable lunch requirements and putting lunch in gym bag are two different skill sets.
  2. Less of my time needs to be spent procuring and preparing lunch, and more time needs to be spent on reviewing options for shipping and delivery.
  3. Cultivating a lifelong disdain for McDonald's in all my children was probably not a great tactical move, as there is one across the street from basketball camp and they have unlimited ketchup. Factory stuffed chickens be damned.