Monday, October 24, 2016

customer non-service

My reading glasses break on the way to work. I stop by a Duane Reade and buy a $15 pair of readers. The next day the arm thing falls off.

I go back to Duane Reade, and ask for the manager. A Chinese man whose English is not good identifies himself as the manager.

I explain the problem. He addresses me in the third person.

"Customer come in. She buy glasses. Glasses in perfect condition. Customer come back. Glasses broken. Customer break glasses."

I'm not exaggerating; this is a direct quote.

Losing my patience I say, "First of all. The customer is me."

"You break glasses," is the response I get.

"I did not break glasses. The arm of the glasses fell off. That shouldn't have happened."

"Glasses good when you bought them."

"I am returning these!!!!  Where is your boss?"

"I am boss.  Okay. You can return."

Then this morning, I receive an email from Liberty Mutual stating that I owe $13 on my home owner's policy. 

Your current amount of $13.00 for your Renters policy bill is due today. We understand that sometimes a due date can come quickly, so we wanted to remind you to pay now .

But I never received any bill until now.  How can I be late?  I call and get some guy who is reading from a script.

"A bill was sent to you.  What is your email address?"

I tell him, and add the obvious, "You must have my correct email address because I received a notice about my bill today.  But I never got the first bill."

"Well, it was sent in July." He later amends July to October 3.

Later, he makes yet another change. "The first bill was sent in the mail." 


Then I ask, "So what is the $13 even for, since I never received any bill."

"You added a necklace in July."  True, I did.

"Why is it so much, since the year is more than half gone and the necklace wasn't all that expensive? $13 seems high."

"Well, it's actually $8 and then another $5 for mailing you the bill."

"What?!!! Are you telling me that I am being charged $5 to receive my bill?"

"Yes, m'am; it's expensive to mail out bills."

"Fine, then it's too expensive to keep this policy.  Cancel it."

Well, that's the answer I wanted to give. Too bad I don't have the fortitude to go through the pain of finding another insurance company.  

Instead, I get the fee waived and make sure I am signed up for paperless billing.

Friday, October 21, 2016

lured to lure

I tell M I won't be able to make dinner. 

The reservation is late because T, M's husband, is arriving late from Boston.

Lure Fishbar is way downtown and I'm uptown.

Traffic on a Friday night is always bad.

I'm working all day and know I'll be exhausted.

And, I'm done work at 6 and dinner isn't until 9. 

But then I re-think it.

I don't see M often.

Dinner is also with M's husband, son Sam, and Sam's girlfriend, all of whom I adore (M's husband would be surprised and embarrassed to read this).

9 isn't that late.

And I'm too young (I want to believe) to rush home on a Friday night to watch Dateline.

So around five I call M and tell her I'm coming.

Work is awful. According to my tracker, I walk 8.5 exhausting miles with little to show for it. I earn $71. 

I have three hours to kill and use it to do nothing. I sit and read and rest my feet.

But it's worth it.

The restaurant is filled, the noise level high, but we have a great little round table. 

Sam knows restaurants and is a pro orderer.  We let him take over with the hors d'oeuvres and sides. It appears he over orders but surprisingly there is not a scrap left.

Lure is recreated as the inside of an exquisite yacht. The tuna tacos and lobster roll alone would make the restaurant worth the trip to Soho. But the food is of course secondary to a night with good friends I've known for over 35 years. And their son whom I first met when he was days old. And his girlfriend whom I've now known for a few years. 

How could I ever have contemplated not coming?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

a night of celebration and friendship

Abbey, my brother-in-law, is celebrating 70 years in business, and I am invited to the event at his company's offices.

Hundreds of people are invited, mostly clients and friends. I wear heels because the occasion calls for it, and am quickly reminded that I shouldn't. Walking from the subway to the event is difficult. I wobble. I walk slowly. And my feet ache every step of the way. I think all future shoe purchases will have little elevation. How sad.

My hair looks frightening. I had the keratin treatment a week ago and my hair is still stick straight and flat (albeit healthy looking). To make things worse, I can't color my hair for two weeks after the keratin treatment. I wish I'd planned better.  It's now been four weeks since my hair was last colored, and the half inch white roots are bright and noticeable.

Hordes of people are at Abbey's offices when I arrive. I only know family members, and immediately find some. I am a much better conversationalist when my feet aren't killing me and my hair looks good. Odd how these factors affect my socializing ability. 

I am proud being related to Abbey, and his amazing mother Rita. At 93 years old, she still stands tall in heels and looks as she always does, elegant and poised.

After the event I meet M at Bowery Meats in the East Village. She is visiting from Boston and staying the night.

I have my third drink of the evening with M, which is three more than I usually have. Though I really don't need any alcoholic to feel relaxed around my very close friend. The food is excellent (we both get strip steak) as well as everything else about the evening.

But in typical M fashion, when I try to take a picture, this is the best I can get.

Monday, October 17, 2016

a brief visit home

"I might come home this weekend."

"When will you know?"

"I'm not sure; it depends on what's going on here."

In other words, I'll wait till the very last minute and then weigh my options and consider my choices and then go to the place where I think I'll have more fun.

So late Friday my son decides that this weekend it'll be Manhattan.

Alexander arrives sometime on Saturday while I'm at work.

I know he's reached New York when I get a text around 5: Let's do sushi tonight.

I don't make it home until 8:15.  My son and sushi are both waiting for me. My son is so happy to see me;  now he can finally eat. He greets me with: "I'm starving; I almost couldn't wait."

It's been six weeks since Alexander was last home. We talk often, but seeing him is obviously so much better. Even if it's only an hour over dinner and one episode of Law and Order: SVU. I'm happy to take what I can get.

Soon I'm in my room and Daniel is over. They leave just as I'm falling asleep. I'm long past the days of going out at eleven.

And that's about it for seeing my son this weekend. 

Alexander wakes me to let me know he's home safely. 

Sunday morning I see him briefly before leaving for work. He doesn't have time for breakfast.

Today I'm organizing some photos and come across this one of Alexander.  My son will be 24 in a few weeks. He's only two years younger than his father was when I first met him in 1989.  


As Alexander gets older, the resemblance between father and son grows stronger.

Eric in 1993, age 29; Alexander age two months

I'm in there somewhere. I'm just not sure where.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

a kind customer

It's been a long, slow day. 

In fact, it is so obviously slow that a couple who buy a T-shirt comment. "The store is empty. No one's here."  But then they add, "We just came from Bloomingdales and it's so busy over there."

Do people think Saks is too highbrow for them?
Is it the location? Although you'd think Fifth Avenue in midtown would be the perfect place to shop.
Is it the product offering? I doubt it.
The service? Unlikely.

I have no answers. Although I hope management is asking these questions.

At the end of the day, a woman who is unfamiliar to me comes up and says, "I was looking for you. You helped me last time I was visiting New York and I wanted you to help me again."

She is from Wisconsin. She told me how I found her the perfect jean jacket and plaid shirt.  "I've never had a sales person be so helpful," she adds. "You found me things I'd never have picked on my own."

Okay.  So the pay is dreadful. And the hours horrible.

But when a customer I don't even remember, remembers me, and is grateful for my help, it kind of makes me think, maybe this isn't so bad.

But then, I get home and my feet and back and proverbial wallet remind me that it is.

Friday, October 14, 2016

gone girl

She's gone.

The manager who scolded me for asking someone to refill water they had used left the company the other day.  I was not saddened by the news. But, Mickey, the hard-working, highly organized, gem of a worker who was responsible for our back stock merchandise also is leaving our department. The latter is a real loss.

Our group could self-manage but that won't happen. We need two Mickey replacements and zero floor management replacement.  

It was another non-selling day.  Slow floor traffic. Lots of returns. And aching feet.

I hope I can make it through the holidays.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

a beautiful, but sad good-bye

I meet Allen and his wife Maddie around 8 this morning. We are driving up to Westchester for Carol's funeral at 10.

We arrive at 9:30, and already the very long road leading up to the synagogue is lined with cars. While Carol never liked being the center of attention, I think she would be happy seeing the large number of people who have come today.

There are no empty seats. In fact, video and audio equipment are brought in, so the 50 or so people who can't find standing space within the sanctuary (even including the balcony) can be part of the service.

The eulogies are all beautiful. They are filled with humor and warmth. Sadness and love. Her children and Michael (her husband) show remarkable strength. Carol was a thoughtful, giving person. Involved in the community. The synagogue. With her friends. And most importantly, her family. 

When Michael talks about Carol's natural instincts as a mother — how each child was mothered differently, depending on who they were and what they needed— it wasn't possible to remain dry-eyed. 

When Melanie, Carol's only daughter, says, "Every morning, my mom would come in my room to wake me up and say, 'Waking you is like unwrapping a present,' I think, what a beautiful thing to tell your child. And what a precious gift to give her.

Carol's two sons both speak of their closeness to her. It is unusual to see two young men speak of their mother with such admiration and profound and obvious love.

And Carol was, despite the cliche, the true love of Michael's life. He met her at Penn, fell in love, and then 11 years later (yup, it took a while), Carol returned that love. I honestly don't think any two people could be happier than those two were.

Mourners come from all over the country. I sit next to Carol's childhood friend who now lives in Boston. I see people I haven't seen in over fifteen years. One woman comes up and hugs me, addresses me by name. tells me how sorry she is, and even asks, "Did you drive up with Allen?" Neither Allen nor I have any idea who she is.

At the cemetery the rabbi says a brief prayer. And then the mourners use a shovel to throw dirt onto the casket. This is considered a last act of kindness one can do for a loved one — bury them. But the sound of the dirt hitting the casket sounds harsh. My friend should not be there.

Shiva begins immediately after the funeral. Michael's house is filled. But it is not dominated by sadness. People share stories about Carol. Her life is represented in part by the many people who have come to say good-bye. 

Carol is described today in many superlative terms. Woman of valor. Genuine. Generous. Unpretentious. Intelligent. Kind. Gracious. She was all these things.  And more. 

I will miss her big, welcoming smile. Her laugh. Her embracing hugs. And her friendship.