Monday, February 11, 2013


There are occasions when I sit down at the ol’ keyboard to write down something new for this space in the paper and I draw a complete blank as to subject matter. Conversely, there are other occasions when the things almost write themselves. You know, something will happen at home or at work, or I’ll listen to a newscast or torture myself by listening to John Gormley Live on NewsTalk980 radio, or something, and then bing-bang-boom the words are flying on to the paper. But those occasions are rare.
            Sometimes, if an idea strikes me, I’ll jot it down so that when I’m going through one of my idea dry spells I can pull it out later and expand on it. That’s if I remember where I put the damn thing.
            I can almost remember having a memory, if you know what I mean? Ahhhh, those were the days my friend. Yes, of course, I still have a memory but sometimes it doesn’t work so well. My long-term memory?…no problem…the color of my grade 2 home-room teacher’s eyes?…blue, the Hubbard’s phone number in Marquis, Saskatchewan, in 1965?…26, (okay, that’s an easy one), but why am I standing in the back porch right now? Not a clue. I know I came in here for something and I’m not leaving until I remember why or what.
A while back I guess I had put some notes away for future columns and totally forgot all about the cache. In my defense, I had put them on to one of our numerous computer drives so then I had to remember where I had stored my memory but I didn’t have anything to remind me of what I had to remember or where I had put the notes so then I didn’t remember I had even done it until I came across the notes by mistake. Make sense? Only we short-term-memory-challenged will know what I’m talking about.
            They say that doing brain exercises can improve one’s memory. Or at the very least stop it from degenerating too fast. That said, I found that information when I Googled “memory” but there’s so much information on the subject that there’s no way at all I’m going to remember a tenth of it.
            And it’s all cyclical, too, isn’t it? Stress affects your memory and you get stressed because you can’t remember stuff which increases your memory loss and around and around we go.
            And the stuff that we don’t want to remember we do and the stuff that we’re supposed to remember we don’t. Like the time you snuck out a little gas in the gym when nobody was there and then a bunch of people showed up and you couldn’t blame the smell on anyone else or the dog, or anything, and you keep reliving the embarrassment of the situation over and over again. No? Never happened to you? Me neither.
            Come to think of it, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, in your life is based on memory. Right at this exact moment in time every smell, every sight, every sound, every feeling is recorded and compared to an experience that you have already had. At its most basic, that’s it, that’s memory, which, essentially, is life.
            So my hope is that this will be a memorable column for you, Dear Reader, and with any luck I will remember what I wrote here and you won’t be subjected to reading about it again if I forget that I wrote it and I write it all over again.
            “Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it.”-Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592).


It would seem to me that it was more than a little ironic that right at the time I was writing last week’s column regarding advances in electronic technology it was electronic technology that completely let us down. Mind you, as usual, technology didn’t let us down- the operator of the technology completely let us down. And our frustration wasn’t necessarily with the technological breakdown as much as it was with the customer service, or lack thereof, that became the most frustrating part of the whole ordeal.
            It all started when I bought my wife an iPhone for Christmas. Up ‘til now Deb’s had an old flip-phone with buy-as-you-go phone cards and she was quite happy not having to be a slave to her cell phone so I got to thinking that she should really upgrade herself into this century and get a phone where she can Facetime with the kids and grandkids and she can text and email and do all of those wonderful things that only a new cellular phone can do for you. Of course, these wonderful tools come at a cost. And not a low cost either, so in an effort to cut down on the cost of our two-member household paying an enormous phone bill we decided it would be a good idea to bundle up some of the phone services that we were using, make one of our cell phones our home phone and cut out our landline. Simple, eh? I guess not. Many, apparently, have done this. I wish we hadn’t because that’s when the trouble really began.
            We weren’t completely advised of all of the details that this little adjustment to save ourselves a few bucks would entail. We expected a couple of glitches, and there were more than a couple, but when SaskTel completely lost our email account information for four days we started to panic. Not only were we unable to send and receive emails, we completely lost everything. And I mean everything! Anyone familiar with email usage will know that it’s essentially a cyber filing cabinet and to lose all of the information stored in there could be catastrophic.
And, yes, all of you cyber-geniuses with your condescending head-shaking and all-knowing grin going, “tsk, tsk…why didn’t he back up his information?” I’ll tell you this, NOBODY does! Okay? NO-BODY. Well maybe the 1.6% of you cyber-geeks do it but besides them…NOBODY.
Anyway, we get on the phone, the first time, for one-and-a-half-hours of waiting and going from this rep to that rep to another rep all the while nobody can figure out where our stuff went and “Oops, sorry, there’s not much we can do about it now” answers and…”Perhaps you can send us the details of your problem in an email…” “YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!? YOU LOST OUR EMAIL! (expletive, expletive)”
Then we’re on the phone the next night again and they say they might be able to restore everything but “please give us twenty-four hours to work on it”. Okay…twenty-four hours and two minutes later we’ve got our email restored, with none of our old information by the way, and a new/old email account to boot and then the stupid thing stops working all together again.
Up until then we’d been fairly polite when dealing with these people but now I’m past agitated and this has been going on for, like, four days, and, believe me, I was in the retail lumber business for over twenty years and I’ve had my share of ticked off customers to deal with and I don’t like ‘em and I don’t particularly like companies that turn me into a ticked off jerk customer, either, and it’s a real shame that you sometimes have to be one to get any satisfaction but that’s just what happened. I turned into a class A (as in ass) jerk and they restored our stuff a few hours later. All of it!
I’ve always believed in the adage that, “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”, but, as with all things, there are exceptions to every rule.
“The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk to you. It just works.”- Jeff Bezos (1964-)- CEO


Here's a reprise of a little Christmas poem I threw together for you. Three Kings, shepherds and a babe in the manger. The E...