Category Archives: And Another Thing…

The Three Best Smells on Earth

A few words on the power of scent, figured out based on the three best smells in the world:

  1. Palmolive Original Scent.  Both of my grandmothers used Palmolive to wash dishes when I was a kid.  That Palmolive smell is the essence of unconditional love and joy.  My mother’s mother, delicate, tender, utterly undomestic, and unflinchingly supportive and loving to her grandchildren, cleaned her dishes with Palmolive.  When we would help clean up after holiday meals, summer sandwich lunches, and Christmas cookie baking, we used that Palmolive.  My father’s mother, tough, strong, domestically accomplished, and unflinchingly supporting and loving to her grandchildren, cleaned her dishes with Palmolive too.  Helping clean up after hearty dinners and special treats and in between crafts and volunteering, we used that Palmolive.  Those two women were very different, but identical in the way they loved and supported everything their grandchildren did.  Even when we were less-than-gracious, poorly mannered, or downright snotty, both of them were loving and kind as they corrected us.  Both made sure each of their grandchildren (16 all together) knew we were loved utterly and completely.  Both supported us in whatever aspirations, big or small, we had.  Both have been gone many years now.  One day at the grocery store I decided to test-smell dish soaps.  When that Palmolive smell hit my nose, I was overwhelmed by a sense of security and appreciation.  No dish soap but Palmolive will do for me since that day.
  2. Petrichor. I don’t know what it is about this special smell when rain falls on dry soil, but it seems like the essence of clean fresh purity. If ever I find anything that really smells like it, I’m buying everything in that particular scent. Except dish soap, of course. See #1.
  3. Diesel fuel.  I do know what makes this particular scent resonate security, safety, warmth, and home.  My dad was in the Navy when I was a kid.  He was on submarines.  That meant he spent three months at a time gone.  Not off where we had to call him or send email.  Three months completely incommunicado.  At the end of that three months, the submarine would came home and trade crews, and dad would come home after work every day (or almost every day) for three months.  Diesel fuel, used infrequently but necessary on the submarine, was stored onboard for the whole three months.  All those months in cramped quarters, packed with machinery and equipment, meant everything sort of seeped into everything else.  When dad came home after those months-long absences, all of his clothes, bedding, etc. were infused with that particular odor.  The smell of diesel fuel was the smell of dad coming home to play, to work, to help, to discipline, and to be part of our lives.  Who could ask for more?
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HI! How can I not help you today?

I think I might have completely irrational expectations from customer service.  I have this vision of people who answer the phone or work at the front desk who say things like, “I can’t do that, but I can solve your problem this other way” or “I don’t know.  Let me ask my boss.”, or even “Yes.”  Reality is not so…..useful.

About three months ago The Hubs and I took the kiddies out to dinner at our favorite local Cajun seafood restaurant.  While we were there a vicious thunderstorm blew up, and we ended up driving home in a hailstorm.  Scared the peewaddle out of The Girl and The Hubs, and The Boy still gets kinda weird every time he sees a cloud.  After we pulled in the garage we noticed a bunch of little dings in the car.  Well, crap.  They weren’t bad, but the car is less than a year old.  We decide to get it fixed.  We have insurance, right?

We call the insurance company.  This is the new agent – not the one we The Hubs started getting insurance with back in the 70s or something.  I think that guy had the nerve to retire.  Just ’cause he’s been doing this for 50 years he thinks we don’t need him anymore.  Anyway, these new folks aren’t very invested in us.  When The Hubs called them in January and asked to be sure we have rental car coverage and “anything else we might need”, they didn’t think he meant rental car coverage for non-collision.  So, we pay for the rental car out of pocket.  Joy. 

We call the place that did the bodywork when my car had a run-in with a stray shopping cart at a big-box store.  They tell us that getting hail damage fixed is a big stinking deal, and that everyone has hail damage at the same time, so they’ll call us when our number comes up to let us know when they’ll fix it.  This is around the first of April.  In mid-May they call and tell us that we’re lucky – they can fix it starting on July 22. Yeah, we sure are lucky that after six weeks they were able to tell us that it would only be another two months before they got started on the work.

We get back from vacation in late June and I call them to ask how long they think they will have the car – I want to make plans for things like us maybe visiting my parents and The Girl going to camp.  The girl who answers the phone tells me that there’s a process and they have a waiting list, so I’ll have to bring the car in for an estimate and go through our insurance company before they can even start the process.   

What?

Sweetheart, that’s why I started the convo by telling you that we have an appointment with you to begin the work on July 22. We’ve already done all that. All I’m asking is how long it usually is, like a rough estimate. Gimme a days/weeks/months guess, based on your experience.

She tells me she really doesn’t know, and that they’d have to see the car first, which is why she told me it’s a process and I have to bring the car in before they can start the process. It’s like the world’s biggest circle jerk, and she’s pulling it all off completely on her own.

After several trips on this merry-go-round I ask if there is anyone there who can help me figure out a rough estimate of how long they’re going to have my car. Mike, her manager, gets on the phone and tells me that it’s a process and he’s going to explain how the process works.

They can’t both be this dumb, right? I interrupt him to say that I really don’t need another round of “the process”, and I’d appreciate it if he could just give me a rough estimate of how long they will have my car. Again, I ask for a days/weeks/months estimate, and tell him that after 30 minutes listening to the explanation of their “process” I’d appreciate it if he’d go ahead and cut to the chase. He actually has the nerve to say, “if you start acting like a human being I might.”

What the Hell? Clearly the company policy is not “the customer is always right”. In this case they don’t even adhere to “the customer is always a human being.”

Anyway, I hang up on him. When I walk in the door to the house The Hubs is sitting there playing on his computer, and I ask him to please call these people and try to get some kind of estimate on the time frame. He asks what’s going on and I give him the blast. He calls them.

The same Mike guy gets on the phone and explains that they have a process and launches into the 10-minute stock explanation of the process. The Hubs listens politely and then asks how long they think it will take, explaining that we know it’s an estimate and it might end up taking more or less time, but roughly what should we expect.

At this point the guy explodes and yells at The Hubs about how he is prohibited from giving out that information. Seriously, I’ve never run into anyone, from house painters to surgeons, who couldn’t give me at least a rough estimate of how long something was going to take. These guys are prohibited from doing it, though.

After that was when we decided to call someone else to fix the car. Their first statement: Well I don’t see why you would wait months. How’s Monday sound? It’ll take about two weeks.

The new place has the car now. I’ll let you know how it works out.

Really, Penn State?

What the Hell are people thinking?

OK, I get that Joe Paterno’s been there forever. I get that there is a long football tradition there at Penn State. What I don’t get is how any Penn State fan can be anything but pissed off at the whole pack of monsters there. How can a Penn State fan feel anything about the whole mess besides a deep anger that these savages ruined their University’s reputation? How many parents would have pulled their kids out of that football program after this kind of scandal broke? How many parents are going to work hard to get their promising young sons into that football program now, even after the firings? How many moms are going to be proud to say their boys are heading off to summer training at Penn State in the next few years? And just how many games do you think those boys will win? Basically, the entire “football tradition” at Penn State has just been reduced to child molestation.

Now obviously Sandusky is a special kind of monster, but what kind of monster does it take to walk in on that atrocity and do nothing? Doesn’t that count as an accomplice? Sorry, McQuery, you aren’t off the hook for telling Paterno. Frankly, I think you had a moral obligation to intervene on behalf of the boy you saw Sandusky abusing, PHYSICALLY if necessary. Walking away and tattling isn’t enough. If you said you’d beat his ass and then called the boy’s parents and the cops, that might be enough. And really, Paterno? You told the AD? That’s it? He wasn’t seen pilfering sticky notes from the supply room. Talk about a disproportionate response.

The whole mess makes me sick. People who prey on children (and those who protect them) have a special place in Hell, I hope.