Nothing Sucks Like a Bureaucracy, Speak English, and Ineptitude is a Constant

My son wasted almost an entire Saturday farting around with upgrading his stinking phone.  I know he does everything on that damned thing, so it’s important to him that it works, but I ended up waiting around for him and his buddy to come back and ended up not being able to get the oil changed on my car.  That sort of pissed me off.  I ask for so little, and get screwed over so much.  Shame on me for allowing it to happen.  I need to get tougher.  I understand dealing with the phone company is a pain in the ass (which is why I tend to just do as much as I can with them online,) but I can only take so much of the negotiatory dance in one day.  I hate bureaucracies.  The cable company is just as bad, because you have to talk to thirty different people who tell you thirty different things before they get you to someone who actually knows something.  Then you have to bitch- obnoxiously- and negotiate rates with them and threaten to have your shit turned off at least once a year to get the good ‘ol boy pricing.  Whatever happened to loyalty discounts and so forth?  Why do I have to demand to talk to the supervisor and spend hours on hold and then hours arguing with someone seven states away (or in some God-forsaken third world hole) to get what I should be getting automatically without having to threaten and bitch about it?

I can deal with the cable company and the phone company a lot easier than dealing with any governmental or healthcare bureaucracy though.  Insurance companies of any sort (but especially health insurance) are the absolute worst to deal with, except for Dell Customer Service, who I will name, simply because I am convinced that everyone who works for Dell Customer Service lives in a ghetto in Mumbai and learned what few English phrases they know from watching Pee Wee’s Playhouse reruns.  Believe me, if he tells you his name is “Tom” or “Robert,” you can bet his given name is something that white Midwestern Americans can’t pronounce.  What amazes me (even more than the abysmal language skills) with these sort of bureaucratic systems is that no one knows anything.  Just what I need when I just bought a computer and I’m getting the Blue Screen of Death.  That actually happened to me once.  I ended up having to uninstall and reinstall Windows- yay!- after about 12 hours straight of farting about with these guys.

This is actually a screen saver.  It would likely keep others from farting with your computer.

If you don’t know anything, then why in the flying bejezzus are you answering the flipping phone?  The same philosophy applies to anyone who is supposed to be speaking with people whose first language is English.  If you can’t understand me and I can’t understand you, then what the hell is the point of the conversation?  Why in the hell am I repeating my account number, birth date and social security number fifteen dozen times if none of you idiots (providing you can understand enough English to have a clue as to what I’m saying to begin with) is able to find the information you need even when I provide my information so many times and in so many ways it brings me to the point of nausea?

This dog is NOT Sheena.  It has normal canine teeth, which Sheena does not have.  Otherwise this dog is Sheena’s doppelganger. However, I agree, dogs- even those as dim as Sheena- understand the English language better than a good number of redneck men.

My flaming type-A personality can’t take this degree of ineptitude for long, so I avoid these sort of “customer service” options like the plague.  My son is of a different temperment.  He thrives on pulling people’s chains and he takes delight in demanding to talk to supervisors and so forth, but I just don’t have it in me to be that crass.  It doesn’t come naturally for me.

Because my son belongs to a younger and more technically adept generation (and he is a hopeless techno geek anyway) he knows how to work his way through a bureaucracy, especially his cellular provider, who (for their protection,) I will not name.  I am not at all surprised.  He not only had the determination but the patience (which I do NOT possess, because I’d just say screw it and keep the old phone as long as I could at least call out and text on it) to end up more than likely talking with the CEO of the joint before all was said and done and he came back from the cellular store with the particular Android phone he wanted.   I’m still waiting until September for an upgrade. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a phone that doesn’t randomly call people for no apparent reason.  I’d also like to be able to get on Facebook with my phone, which I can’t do anymore, either because I don’t know how to install the software upgrade, or because my phone’s too old.   I should have opted for one of the Android phones the last time.  That way I could at least play Angry Birds if I get bored.

Yes, I am easily amused.

I have commented on the principle of entropy, which comes to us from the science of physics (too bad I can’t get with the math to be really good at understanding physics, but such is.)  Entropy is a high faluting way of putting forth the timeless assertion that as time goes on everything eventually turns to shit.  Ineptitude is one of those conditions that adds to entropy.  If entropy is what’s happening to the hillside that is eroding away into the sea, ineptitude is the torrential rain causing the friction and wear.

If you want an idea of the volume of ineptitude I experience in the course of a day: Visualize Niagara Falls.

The Shitty Service Discount (A Walmart Critique) and No Way to Spend a Weekend

I admit I’ve never been a Walmart fan.  While I am cheap and I like saving money, I don’t like standing in line for hours (or trying to find a cashier when all the checkout lanes are closed) and I don’t like surly help.  I see their side of the issue- either you want it cheap or you want it with a smile, but you can’t have both.

I don’t blame the Team Members at Walmart.  Minimum wage with no benefits really sucks and is only one step up from being homeless and living under the bridge.  That I do understand, and it bites.  My only counter to that predicament would be that one will never get out of the minimum wage, part-time no benefits hole unless you do what’s completely counterintuitive.  Smile and be the best freaking Walmart stockboy you can be.  Or at least, learn English.

In a way it was a bit fortuitous that on my last visit to Walmart- the 6AM Quest for Pennzoil- my receipt included a survey/ sweepstakes entry.  I don’t think I will win their $1000 gift card, especially if they toss out all of the unfavorable surveys.  However, I don’t see that Walmart location ever getting a favorable survey.   I simply told the truth.  The place wasn’t clean.  The Team Members I encountered were downright surly. I don’t care if it’s 6AM, if you’re a 24 hour joint you at least have to have one or two people at the register, preferably somewhat motivated English speaking people.  The only ones who would remotely consider rating it favorably likely can’t understand enough English to complete the survey.  Maybe they would have liked it better if I had scribbled it out in crayon on a page from a Hello Kitty coloring book instead of submitting it online.  I know I would never give me the option to fill in the blank and comment on a survey.  That’s just asking for me to give it to you with both barrels.  Case in point- here is my commentary I gave on the Walmart survey when asked, “How may we serve you better?”

I have to say my visit to Walmart was highly disappointing.  I made the mistake of thinking I could avoid the rush by shopping at 6AM since you are a 24 hour establishment.  I understand that 6AM is not the busiest time of the day, but it might help if some of your team members on duty actually spoke the English language- that is, the ones that I can find who aren’t actively ignoring me.  It would be nice if I could buy a jug of Pennzoil in less than 45 minutes, 40 of which were spent trying to find a cashier available and willing to check me out so I could finally pay you and leave. 

On a brighter note, while Martha Stewart might not have approved of the general squalor in your establishment, I am glad that I didn’t discover any feces or corpses on the floor, which was a plus. Then again, I didn’t look very hard for those either.  Perhaps the dead bodies and dookie are back in the grocery section or something.

 Given my usual irreverence, I thought, for my own amusement, that I’d conduct a little non-scientific Walmart survey of my own.


Usually when I get surveys of any sort I try to be honest and I try to be complimentary if the compliments are due.  I remember all too well how seriously Toyota takes their dealer surveys.  If a Toyota dealer gets even a neutral survey, the district rep will be in the dealership and on the “offending” department like white on rice wondering what you did to make so-and-so’s experience anything less than “completely satisfying.”  If Walmart takes their surveys as seriously as Toyota does, (which I have to doubt,) someone there is in serious shit, and in my humble opinion the whole damned place should be.  It’s one thing to offer discounts on virtually everything, (I understand there’s a big difference between Nordstrom’s and Walmart,) but there’s no excuse for a complete lack of customer service to the point of not having one available cashier during business hours.

Now I should be reprimanding myself for being so derisive.  I have to admit not all Walmarts are this dismal, and I should know better than to think anyone has anything but illiterate and comatose help at 6AM.  I am grateful that my weekend didn’t end as badly as it started. 

I have spent more time than most people in hospitals and Dr.s offices.  While I don’t enjoy it , I do have a certain comfort level in medical facilities that most people don’t have.  I understand a good bit of the terminology.  I know a good bit about common procedures- how they’re done and why.  I have to remember that poor Steve-o is not nearly as acclimated to such things and he freaks easily.  So when they had to take the baby to Children’s last Wednesday he was climbing the walls.

I have to admit that it was most unsettling to me Wednesday night to hear that my month-old granddaughter was barely responding, was dehydrated, had a high fever and had just been transferred to Children’s.  What Steve-o in his distress didn’t understand was that her mother and other grandmother took exactly the correct steps and got her immediate treatment.  If not for their quick thinking and fast action I shudder to think of the consequences.  Because she got treatment immediately – the cultures revealed that somehow she had gotten salmonella poisoning- she will recover completely and be quite fine.  Even so she was in the hospital from Wednesday night until Saturday afternoon.  Very few things are more distressing than such a tiny little one having to undergo IVs, blood draws, and worst of all, a spinal tap.  I never went through anything this serious with Steve-o.  He had a bad ear infection when he was 6 months old, chicken pox when he was a year old, and strep throat when he was 7, and that was about the worst of his infectious diseases.

Apparently salmonella is fairly common in the general environment and most adults have some immunity to it, but infants and small children don’t.  Even a very tiny bit of contamination would have been enough.  They threw out all her bottles and nipples and whatever formula and bought all new.  I hope that was sufficient to keep this from coming back.  I don’t like doing the hospital thing with adults,but there are few things more pathetic than a nine pound newborn strapped to an IV.   The good thing is she won’t remember a thing.  The bad thing is that I will.  I’m one of those people who does what needs to be done and for good or ill deals with the attending emotions later.  I stayed with her through the blood draw and helped keep her still and distracted enough to let the nurses do their job.  I never knew that the only way to find a newborn’s veins is with a bright red light shined under the arm.  Weird.

Yesterday I pretty much came home from church and the grocery and slept the rest of the day.  I hope next weekend that everyone is well -and that I can stay out of Walmart.