Wednesday, April 18, 2018

an old-fashioned play with some contemporary twists

It was probably a couple of months ago when three of my friends and I got tickets to see My Fair Lady at Lincoln Center for today. We even agreed that lunch before would be great.

But then yesterday I wake up with a scratchy throat, runny nose, watery eyes, and a heavy head. All I want to do is sleep.  When someone suggests it might be allergies (and reminds me that I feel like this every spring), I conclude that's probably what it is.  Though of course I can't be sure.

Today I awake after 9 hours of sleep, and feel a little hung over (despite having had no alcohol in a week). I  send the following email to my friends:

I am so sorry to do this, but I am going to skip lunch and go to theater.

I hope I don’t ruin it for all of you (lunch, I mean), but this head cold is making me just want to sleep…so rather than be bad company at lunch, I’ll rest up and be decent company to sit next to.

See you in our seats. 


But then I get this email from my friend X:

Should we all cancel?

Also, if you are sick I don’t want to get sick ( sorry...) so I don’t want  to sit near you. Is it too late to reschedule everything?

And then this from my friend C:

That was my concern yesterday :((

So I call the theater and try unsuccessfully to re-schedule my ticket. I email everyone again:

Sorry everyone for causing such a mess. I did try calling to see if I could change date just for myself and there were no good single seats (I wanted a Wed matinee…guess they are very popular). And, C would have had to change the tickets because my ticket was purchased on her credit card.

But I really think my head cold is allergies as I seem to get this around the same time each year so I don’t think (and do hope) that I’m not contagious.

I won’t hug or kiss anyone.

See you in the seats.

The end, I think.

But then I get a call from C; who like X, also doesn't want to sit next to me. I'm starting to feel a bit like a pariah.

I am about to call the theater again, but then I remember. We have three seats together (me, X and C) and two seats together (S and her friend)  a few rows back. Fortunately S and her friend are not afraid to sit next to me.  So S and her friend switch their seats with X and C and now everyone is happy (I think).

Before coming, I didn't think I'd make it through three hours (my theater preference is 90 minute one-acts). But the beautiful music, with all its recognizable songs, grabs hold of me from the beginning and never lets go. 

I doubt Lauren Ambros will be remembered as one of the better Eliza's, but the overall show is great. When Freddy sings On The Street Where You Live I almost start crying; others do. There is much creativity in the sets, the choreography, and the costuming. And even the changed ending makes eminent sense for today's audience.

I love every minute, and think of my dad. This is exactly the kind of show he'd have loved. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

trusting strangers

I love Craig's List.

While I've never bought anything on it, I have sold a few things, and all to great buyers.

I am very trusting and believe that most people are honest and nice. Friends ask, "Aren't you afraid to let strangers into your home?" And the answer is, "No, not really." I guess because I've always had good luck with strangers.

I still won't sleep in a house alone. I read In Cold Blood while in high school and that ruined it for me.  But having people come into my home? No problem.

Last week I met Ari and Rich, two really nice guys who came to look at the sofa I am trying to sell. Since I re-arranged my furniture a few months ago, my sofa now blocks the entrance to my son's room. If you know of anyone who is looking for a sleek, modern Ralph Lauren sectional (it's 108 inches by 108) in great condition, let me know.

And this week Vincent (an adorable, young and married Parisian) came over. He bought my barely used Bose Wave 1 Music System. 


I was asking $275 and we negotiated for $240.

When Vincent arrived, I said, "Would you like to hear it?" His response? "No, I trust you." 

He handed me cash; I packed up the Bose; we talked awhile;  and he left.

Sunday, April 8, 2018


I want to be clear. 

  1. If I could find another job, I would.
  2. I need to work.
  3. It's more about self-esteem than money, although the money is important.
Writing a blog is taking a risk. I know I'll be judged and of course I am. It comes out in many ways.

A family member getting angry about something I once wrote; she no longer reads my blog and that hurts me.

Someone telling me I complain too much about my job; someone who doesn't work and hasn't in a jillion years.

Someone else saying if I have no money, why do I spend money on XYZ?

As much as I try not to write about people I care about in any way that I think would upset them, I sometimes err.

If I avoid everything that hurts or upsets me (and I do omit more than I write), my blog would feel insincere. So sometimes I am more open than perhaps I should be. 

And when I complain about my job, it is usually about the inequities and unfairness; it's not to say (although it may come off this way), poor me, I work hard and have no money. But rather, poor me, how did I end up here?

The truth is, I actually like what I do when I'm busy. I enjoy meeting new people. Helping them look good for everyday or an important event. Learning a bit about them. And working for a store that offers really great merchandise.

What I don't like is getting paid zero when it's not busy, yet still be required to work — processing other people's returns, lugging clothes all over the place, opening and closing registers, doing price adjustments, and getting little corporate support. It is a place that puts no value on the sales associate. And sometimes I feel compelled to just write about that! Even though I understand it may be tedious to read.

So with that long preamble...This week, aside from one great male customer, was horrid.

I work Friday and Saturday (and will be working again today). For these two days combined (18 hours),  I will earn $106 — that's $5.89/hour, assuming no returns (which is not a realistic assumption). 

Yesterday was particularly dreadful. I net $13 in sales— that's 78¢ for the entire day, including 9 hours on my feet with no break. (I choose to skip lunch, hoping I won't miss any big customers who might happen by). I walk over 16,000 steps, and come home utterly exhausted and with aching feet. 

I feel depleted and sad. 

Sad to feel so taken advantage of. 
Sad to feel so under-appreciated. 
Sad to be asked to do so much for a company that cares so little for its hourly workers. 
Sad to now be an hourly employee.  
Sad to not be using my advanced education and years of senior-level marketing experience.
And sad that I feel I have no other choice but to stay.

Sorry for the rant. I just had to get it out. 

And, every day's a new day. So maybe today will be better.

Thursday, April 5, 2018


I write a letter to the CEO of Verizon Wireless, John Stratton. WIth no effort at all, I find his email address online.

I detail my complaints and he responds within an hour, telling me someone from the Executive Relations Department will be in touch with me. And true to his word, Ashley calls soon after.

Ashley has this sweet, bubbly, baby-doll voice that immediately makes me question her competence. But she surprises me.  She understands my issues quickly, and tells me to give her a couple of days to see if she can get me the originally promised promotional deal. In the meantime, she credits my account $50 for the inconvenience, and $34 for the theater ticket.

In the meantime, I pick up my iPhone X from the Verizon store, and come home to set it up. Some things aren't working right. I spend the next two hours on the phone with Apple. The conversation ends with the tech saying to me, "I think you need to take your phone into a genius bar." 

Should this not surprise me? Nothing in this whole adventure has gone right.

I go to the Apple store and they direct me to a Verizon store, since that was where I purchased the phone. Fortunately, there is a Verizon store nearby.

Since the iPhone X didn't work, I decide the 8 is good enough and purchase the 8. I pay $378.12, leaving a balance of $384. That's $16/mo. for 24 months.

Ashley calls me today and tells me that she could not get the promotional discount for me but instead offers to pay off my phone, and gives me $150 for switching my line to Verizon (in case I don't qualify for the promotional offer). And if I do qualify, I still get to keep the $150.

I think that's a fair deal.

I am impressed with the quick, two-day resolution. And hope my experience with Verizon going forward is better than its start.

Now I can finally say it (I think), THE END.

Monday, April 2, 2018

nightmare with verizon wireless

It's definitely time for a new phone. 

I also want to switch from AT&T to Verizon. I anticipated a complicated process. What I get instead is the most horrible customer experience I have ever encountered.

In short, it takes me over 7 hours on the phone and in person. Multiple errors and misinformation occur every step of the way. And a laughable, Jeopardy-like fraud-verification process is involved. My son's phone is still not working. And I still need to pick up and activate my phone. 

Here's what happened.

On Easter Sunday I go into one of these Wireless One Verizon authorized retailers on First Avenue in Manhattan. I get Alicia — a totally inept customer representative.

She tells me I qualify for a promotion where I'll be paying $120/month for unlimited service on two phones. It takes over two hours to process. 

AFTER Alicia de-activates our two phones from AT&T, and
AFTER Alicia activates our two phones with Verizon, and
AFTER I put down $525.30 toward an iPhone X (and Alicia charges me tax of $121.30 when it should be $88.75)

... Alicia tells me I don't t qualify for the promotion she had told me I was getting, and now my monthly charge will in fact be $30 higher than promised BEFORE I signed. 

Isn’t this illegal?

I leave the store upset. And the more I think about it, the angrier I get. 

So  I return to the store within a half hour of leaving and tell Alicia that I want to reverse everything I had just done.

AFTER Alicia refunds my money for the phone, she says she is de-activating both my phone and Alexander's. Now we both have no cell service and we are told we need to go back to AT&T to activate our phones.

It is now almost two. I am supposed to see a 3pm performance of a play (Harry Clarke) that I have tickets to see. I forfeit the $34 (my ticket is non-refundable) and now my friend Stephanie has to go alone. I can't see sitting through a play before getting this nightmare resolved. To let Stephanie know, I have to stop some nice random person on the street who texts Stephanie for me.

And then the nightmare gets even worse.

I come home and call Verizon Wireless as I decide I still do want their service (it's better than AT&T when I visit the Cape).

I call and ask for the Win-Back group. I am again given mis-information (that works in my favor). So after 45 minutes, we finally begin the sign-up process, only to be disconnected. I almost cry.

Now I have to start all over again.

When I call back, I got a sales rep and ask to be connected to the Win-Back department. I am on hold for about 15 minutes when I get someone. The first question I am asked is, "What is your social security number?"  Huh?!  I haven't even been asked what service I want. Turns out I've been incorrectly transferred to someone from the Credit Department and not the Win-Back department.

So I ask again to be transferred to the Win-Back Department and this time, after another 10 minutes on hold, I get Asia Crew, the only person in the whole process who seems to know what she is doing. 

She tells me that I can't be connected to the Win-Back department since Alicia NEVER de-activated my son’s service (just mine, and I am the primary account holder, not my son).  How can this even happen?.  

Asia and I spend about an hour on the phone.  By  the time we hang up, I am told where to pick up my iPhone tomorrow and that my son's phone should be working. (It isn't, and now we need tech support but that's a whole other long story).

A few minutes after I hang up from Asia, I get an email from Fraud Verication saying that I need to call them before they can process my order, even though my order went through just fine with Alicia the first time.

Now I'm about to enter The Twighlight Zone!

I call the number I am given and am asked a series of totally ridiculous questions, including:

·    What is the name of the athletic mascots at the two colleges you attended?  Why the mascots and not the schools? I have no idea what the mascot is of the graduate school I went to.  

·    Then I am read the last four digits of phone numbers that I may or may not have had. I correctly identify my current landline number which I’ve had since I moved to NYC in 1985, but I have no idea what the last four digits of phone numbers I may have had before then. I mean really, who can remember their phone number from 33 years ago?!

So I fail the verification quiz. This time I think I actually do cry.

Now I’m 20 minutes into this call. It’s 6:20. I have a 6:30 dinner reservation with my mom. I have been trying to get Verizon as my new carrier since 11am.

I ask for a supervisor. After a very long hold, I get one. She cannot re-do a new set of verification questions. So even though the first time I had no trouble (with Alicia) getting service and buying the iPhone X, this time I need to: 

  • Take a photo of my license and email Verizon fraud a copy. 
  • Take a photo and email a copy of my current lease (as I receive all my bills electronically and erase them once I pay them). 

It's now Monday morning.

·    My phone order has still not been confirmed for pick up at the Verizon store on Third Avenue in NYC. 

      I am out $34 for the non-refundable theater ticket I lost.

      I spent over 7 hours trying to switch to Verizon. 

      I was given misinformation by numerous Verizon reps.

      I was over-charged on tax by Alicia. 

      I was promised one rate and once I signed (and my phone activated on Verizon), the rate changed (isn’t this called bait and switch, and isn’t this illegal?).

      My  son and I have had no cell service for about 24 hours now.

It's been an absolute nightmarish experience every step of the way.

And I still can't even write THE END. 

Saturday, March 31, 2018

much to celebrate this Passover

My son surprises me and does a really nice thing. "If grandma's coming to Passover, then I'll come too. I haven't seen her since Thanksgiving."

My mom was supposed to come down with my sister Jean and her family, but then Jean isn't feeling well so that got cancelled. Late yesterday my mom tells me she's still coming and will stay here for a couple of days.

I love when my mom visits for obvious reasons. Plus, she's a low-maintenance guest, even to the point of saying, "I don't need a new glass every time I drink something. I'll just rinse out this one."

It's hard to believe my mom is 88. She is on a 6am bus from the Cape and arrives by ten, before I've even finished my first cup of coffee.

She's ready hours before Adam is picking us up.

From the neck up.

My son, on the other hand, makes it in from Philly 45-minutes before we are leaving. He walks in attired in jeans.  When questioned, he answers, "This is what I'm wearing."  As it turns out, he is not alone. 

This is a celebratory Passover.

First, we are a close family.  

We miss Jean and Jim and their family, and Jason and Amanda and their growing family, including two-week old Isabela Mila. But still, it's a good-sized group of 16.

We also have Rachel and Adam's upcoming wedding to celebrate. They got engaged recently at the top of Aspen Mountain. We are thrilled for them both, and so happy to be adding the wonderful, and beautiful Rachel to our family.

Michael coming in from Los Angeles and Alexander coming in from Philadelphia is always reason to celebrate.

And of course, the two beautiful matriarchs always add humor and life to any family gathering.

Valerie has a birthday this week.

And we love when Nina and Jay join us. 

It's a great night of shared stories, many laughs, and so much to celebrate. Including the family's second-newest addition, six-month old Pebbles the cavapoo.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

out with friends

Finding a night where 6 or 7 people are all available is not easy.

That's why Brooke is not present, and also why we are celebrating my birthday a week or so after the fact. But really, having an excuse to go out with a great group of friends is nice whatever the date and whatever the reason.

This time we go local. I recommend an UES retaurant I've never been to, Quality Eats. As it turns out, it's a nice choice.

Shari, Janice, me, Zelia, Ronda, Pam
While all the food is good, it's an unappetizing-sounding dish that is increditble: the grilled nueske's bacon with peanut butter and jalaeno jelly. I have no idea how so many diverse and unlikely ingredients can taste so good.

Like many of our get-togethers, it is not devoid of some drama. But all is resolved by the end of the night, as it always is.

This small group of friends, originally bound by our same-aged sons, has been together for probably over ten years now. And my guess (and hope) is that we all stay spirited, passionate and vocal in our beliefs and opinions — and that all our many birthdays to come are celebrated together.