Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wordless Wednesday 6/20/2012

I Haven't Been This Upset Since I Was 14...

When I was 14 (possibly 15) I tried to help out my dad with his business...  He's done HVAC and refrigeration since before I was born.  He is one of the best heating and air guys in our area, or so I'm told by our customers, and he is pretty much completely self-taught.  But with all that comes a bit of a know-it-all attitude.  His favorite thing to tell me when I'm getting overwhelmed with phone calls is "Tell them 'I have heat/air conditioning'."  Yeah, that wouldn't go over well.  I've been well trained in customer service.  I've been cussed at, threatened both on the phone and in person, and on a regular basis I am yelled at by angry customers.  At the same time I have also been complimented on my professionalism and kindness as well as being able to assist some customers with quick-fix options instead of waiting for the tech to come out for something simple.  I generally try to remain as composed as possible, explain our policies/procedures/whatever and I kindly let people know that while I am doing the best I can for them, I do understand if they need to contact someone else.  I simply can't schedule a technician 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we don't work like that.  We get a lot of referrals and repeat customers.  The customers that stick with us know that we treat them like our own family and do the best we can without ripping them off.

That first day of answering phones for my dad, about twenty years ago, was the only day I worked for him for a good 12 years...  That "lady" ripped me a new one...  I had never been yelled at like that, even by my own parents!  She was pissed and she wanted me to know it.  I don't even know what she was pissed about.  She called my dad every name in the book, of course, she didn't know that it was my dad, and I doubt she knew I was a teenager.  I kept it together through the entire thing.  I appologized and told her I would have him call her immediately.  Then I broke down.  I called my dad sobbing.  It was embarrassing.  And for years he wouldn't let me live it down!  Always joking about how one customer could make me cry.

After that I worked in fast food, a fabric shop and eventually a bridal shop.  I worked my way to management at each of these jobs.  About eight years ago the bridal shop I was working at was closing, the owner retiring, and I was not ready to take on owning a bridal shop.  My dad was going through a divorce and needed an office person, and there it was, my next adventure.

He teased me a bit about not crying if customers yelled at me.  I've done pretty good about that.  Until today, and she didn't even yell at me...

We went out to her property last Friday for a home warranty call, her heater needs a part (yes, the heater has to work in order for the air conditioner to work) and she was told we would contact her to schedule.  Over the weekend it was 100+ degrees here, so Monday morning I walked into a crazy amount of faxed work orders and phone messages, I was in my office until 5:30 in order to make sure everyone was called back.  This particular customer however was not called as we are waiting for the part to arrive.  We did get a fax from her home warranty asking for status but as we were completely overbooked, no one had a chance to call it in.  We got a call from the home warranty today and while Dad was on one line giving the report, the home owner called in and spoke to me about her job.  There seemed to be some miscommunication regarding her job.  It was her understanding that a technician would be out Monday or Tuesday to replace the part and she was missing out on a personal paid obligation.  I explained the part had not arrived, would not be arriving for another day or so and that once it arrived I would contact her to schedule the appointment.  She was very nice, don't get me wrong, and I completely understand her frustration.  To a certain extent...  I got another call a few hours later from the home warranty company questioning our report, saying that we should be able to pick up the part anywhere and schedule the job immidiately for this customer.  I was told that the customer was saying very bad things about the home warranty and our company and complaining about how we do things, not just to their warranty rep but also on a social media website.  I was also told that this customer was very "high up" in society and that she "knows people" and we should do everything within our means to make her happy.  Then I was told that she "complained" that she heard children crying in the background while speaking to me.  This is where I lost it.  This was when my mommy-cat sprang up with claws and fangs bared.  This was what made me upset to the point of wanting to crawl up and cry.  Not only had I just spent the last hour dealing with customers that are unhappy we can't be out for a week because we are so booked, now I have to hear about how this lady is extra-popular and doesn't like my kids!?!?

Here's the deal folks...  I am not a stay at home mom, I am a working mom that is lucky enough to get to keep my kids with me at work and sometimes they make noise.  Yes, I do try to keep them as quiet as possible when I am working.  I will leave the room if they are being a bit too distracting but I don't exactly let them scream their heads off all day long.  I shouldn't be penalized for not putting my kids in daycare!  Instead of calling my dad to vent I called my hubby.  I was upset, I needed to vent.  It did end up getting back to my dad and he was actually just as upset.  His words "No one can tell me I can't have my grandkids in my own office!"  Cute Dad.

I then used my uber-cyber-stalking skills to look up this woman.  Guess what?  If I found the right person, and I'm pretty sure I did, SHE'S OWNS HER OWN BUSINESS!!!  You would think that a woman that owned her own business would be a little more supportive towards a fellow working mom?  I've had customers that have heard my kids just talking and they say how wonderful it is that I get to have them near!  In fact, yesterday, speaking to a long-time customer who just turned 94 last week, he said to me that he thought it was wonderful that I was able to do both!  And most of the supportive comments I get are actually from men.  It's not really that my kids are so super loud, its that I take my time with my customers on the phone to make sure I get the details I need for our company to do our jobs the best we can.  My two-year-old knows every letter by site, can count to ten since she was 18 months and knows at least a dozen words by sight!  When I'm not answering phones and doing paperwork I am working with my toddler to not only keep her mind challenged but to also keep her entertained when mommy is working.  I also have a six-month-old that I am still nursing, all while trying to keep up with the flow of life.  I'm not saying it to get sympathy, I'm just saying, hey!  I'm getting it done!  Today as I worked through lunch answering phones while feeding the baby my two-year-old put her lunch to her face like it was a phone and "answered" as if she worked for the company, said the company name and everything!  She proceeded to tell the imaginary customer "yes, uh-huh, okay, bye-bye."  And then finished eating her phone.

My job may not be as glamorous as some, it may not keep me moving in super-socialite circles, but at the end of the day, I actually like what I do.

And just to add icing to my cupcake today, I just received a call from a happy customer!  I don't think we, as customers, understand how that makes a persons day.  In general we are so quick to call someone out when we need to complain, but rarely do we pick up the phone or send an email when someone simply does their job, let alone goes above and beyond.  Honestly, I almost didn't take that job today.  I just happened to have the tech going to that area and squished it in holding my breath hoping that nothing go wrong.  This customer called beaming that we had exceeded expectations with regards to communication and service.

So, I ask you, please pay it forward today.  Give someone credit, even if it's just for doing something they should be doing anyway.  For every complaint that you feel compelled to make, go out of your way to give someone else a pat on the back!

Thanks for letting me ramble.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Final Graduations and Father's Day

The final graduation (for our family) closing out the school year was last night.  We were not able to attend but got to see some fabulous pictures!  It got me thinking about the three family graduates of 2012...

I told you all about my cousin's graduation a couple weeks ago... 

I had another cousin, well, she's the neice of my father's ex-wife, and she graduated... 

Then my husband's cousin's daughter graduated last night.

And I have known these kids (pretty much) their whole lives.  (My husband and I started dating two months after his cousin had her little girl, I met her about a year later.)

FYI, I totally stole these photos from them.  I did not take the photos and do not own any rights to them.  I'm hoping that they love me so much they won't care...  But, if they do, just send me a message and I will find an embarrassing photo of you that I do own...

It got me thinking about these three.  When they were born, I was turning 17 and ending my Junior year of High School.  I laugh and say it was the summer I forgot to eat...  I was a busy girl!  Working as much as I could, hanging out when I had the time.  No car, I walked everywhere!  It was a pretty great summer.

Senior year was good.  I actually really liked High School.  Maybe that's the reason I am okay with not ever wanting to go back?  Not because it was horrible, but because I really couldn't have done it any better.

I don't remember much of my own graduation.  People talked, poems were quoted (actually, that part I vaguely remember because it was my favorite Robert Frost poem) and diplomas were handed out.  Truthfully, we got an empty folder and had to pick up our actual diploma later.  There were parties and presents and we had a lot of fun.

Some of us went off to college, some worked, some did both.  I don't know that I would change much about the path I chose simply because I may not have ended up where I am any other way.  But there are always the words of advise that we can pass along, so here goes...

Two of our family grads are heading off to college next Fall.  They will be doing far more interesting things than I did at their age.  To them, I want to advise to remember to stay young while you can, don't get in too much trouble, miss home just enough to remember to call your parents once a week and enjoy every minute that higher learning can bring.  To all three, I want them to never stop reaching for the stars, I have seen the things they are capable of doing and I know they can all acheive amazing things.

For Father's Day, I think I'll be making this:

They are called Raspberry-Chocolate Truffle Triangles and they are from The Pampered Chef Make It Fresh, Make It Healthy cookbook.  I will try to take some pictures of my own and write up how they turned out, maybe even include a recipe?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Food For Thought Friday, Graduations

I had a great recipe to post last week!  And then I think I skipped over Friday completely...  So, here it is:

Yes, I am getting that lazy that I know post photos of the recipes instead of typing them out!  Actually, it's not my recipe at all...  My brother and sister-in-law had a BBQ on his surprise trip home Memorial Day weekend and this was a yummy dish that was served.  Now, let me tell you, I am not really into bean salads and I am a total wimp when it comes to anything spicy!  I was asked very nicely to "just try it" and I am so glad I did!  It was super yummy, much lighter than a heavy starchy side dish and just enough heat to give it good flavor but not take away from all the other yummy goodness!!!

Now on to more of my lameness...  So I missed out on posting Wordless Wednesday this week.  I suppose I could have posted old pictures of the girls or my recently cleaned (again) sewing room.  I think I might have even snapped a shot or two of a project I started on the weekend for my nephew...  But I kept thinking "I have a Graduation and a Birthday dinner to attend Tuesday, I will get plenty of pictures!"  Except, I forgot to bring my camera...  I would like to blame it on the head cold/sinusy stuff/illness that has been floating around my house lately.  I started to get a sore throat Monday night but toughed it out, even though we are also back to night-nursing Baby Sister...  I wanted to be up at 5 Tuesday morning, the graduation was about an hour-and-a-half away and at 10 am, but I did end up out of bed by 5:30 to feed Baby Sister and then get myself together.  Mom and I were out of the house just before 6:30!  Of course, we had wanted to be on the road by 6 but I think we did alright for not feeling well!  Caught up in a little bit of traffic but made it to my uncles house in time to ride with the family to the graduation.

This is the last of my cousins to graduate from High School.  Yes, I did just do a mental check to make sure it's from both sides of my family and yes, the last...  I was the first...  Anywho!  He also was graduating from a private school, that was a first for me!  The school is lovely!  One of my aunts and I had a fun time discussing shoes and clothing and talking about which mother's were trying too hard to "fit in" with their graduates and those that were dressed more appropriately for the event.

I'm not sure when the "tradition" of adding your college logo to your mortar board cap came to be but I must tell you that I don't think I saw a single blank cap.  And we aren't talking about community colleges here...  Duke, Columbia, Stanford, NYU, Vassar, Cal Poly (*wink*) these kids are going places!  From talks of generational gaps to wild rumpuses, the speeches were similar to those I've heard before but my mind (and my eyes) were so very full of all those college bound kids and the places they are in fact bound for!

I could go on to tell you that I had many thoughts about wishing I could afford private school for my own kids but I still have a couple years to ponder how we will find the best fit for their education.  I do wish, however, that no matter where these grads go, and I do mean ALL 2012 grads, that they know their horizons are limitless!

And speaking of limitless horizons!!!  After the long morning graduation festivities, we hurried back to our side of the bay (that always makes me laugh!  East Bay is never going to actually be the Bay Area to me) we made it home with enough time to freshen up and head over to join my sister-in-law and some of her relatives for my nephew's birthday dinner!  Again, forgetting the camera...  I am either going to have to steal photos from Facebook or send emails begging for copies!!!

Bry-Bear turned seven.  SEVEN!?!?  I'd like to say it feels  like only yesterday I went to see him in the hospital, the largest baby in the NICU!  But I am blessed to be able to say that these last seven years, although they have sailed past, have not gone by so quickly as to not have amazing moments with that fantastic boy!  Even having two kids of my own, and I think they are pretty cute, my nephew has got to be the most beautiful baby I have ever seen.  I know, that's kind of mean to my own kids, but I just can't lie.  He was stunning from the moment he was born.  Perfect.  And I am so glad I have gotten to be in his life as much as I have been.

So, even though I am lacking pictures of more recent events, in honor of my perfect nephew (evil grin)...

Telling him that he will always be my buddy and that I will keep him in my pocket!  Also representing my Grandfather, I'm wearing my Boston World Series Champs shirt!

I've got a thing about hands...  This is a picture of my hand and my brother holding his son's hand.

My little brother holding his perfect son!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Manic Mommy Monday~Small Triumphs

Manic Mommy Monday!

So I feel like I have only been posting whiny Monday updates lately.  I really never thought of myself as a whiny, cry-baby!  I normally feel like a "glass is half-full" kinda gal...

With that said, we had a house full of sickies this weekend...  Actually, it was only half-full of sickies...  First Big Sister started with a little fever early in the week.  She complained that her "eyes hurt" but we're thinking it may have been her way of saying she had a headache.  My mom has been staying with us, she was the next to get the ickies!  Then hubby came down with something by the end of the week.  Thankfully Baby Sister and I have avoided the no-good feelings.  Small triumph?  Absolutely!

Mommy has been getting less sleep this last week.  Pretty much every two hours after bedtime I am getting up with one of the two girls.  Baby sister for feedings (she is back to nighttime nursing again) and Big Sister with her fever and lost pacifier troubles.  Yes, she is two and still has a paci!  Other than the Evil Mommy I became the first couple nights, I am back in-it-to-win-it with little sleep!  I even got to work on time today!  Small triumph?  Yes again!

I got my sewing room cleaned this weekend and am even working on a quick gift for my nephew who is turning seven tomorrow!  Small triumph!  No way...  HUGE TRIUMPH!!!

I just keep reminding myself that life just is what it is...  The bathroom sinks were plugged up (we have two bathrooms back-to-back and the sinks and toilets kind of "mirror" eachother against the walls, assuming it made sense when it was being plumbed) and we used Drano and borrowed a snake with nothing helping.  My Uncle is a plumber (nice thing about having SIX Uncles (and that's just biological) is that each of them does something different and they all love to help their amazing niece!) so he dropped by to help.  We ended up having to remove a sink and cut into the wall, all the fun things of owning an older home that the previous owners decided to "fix up" themselves.  A couple hours later, wham-bam!  No more clogged drains.  Of course yesterday I noticed something in the sink.  I thought it was a hair, turned out to be a hairline crack, in the sink!  Nope, not gonna whine about it!  We spent almost no money to get the lines cleared out, the sink is still usable, and these pedistal sinks aren't as functional as they were "cute" when we put them in.  Gonna save up some cash and install a new cabinet sink in the near future.  No worries!

And the small triumph that has set me to smiling today?  Hubby offered to keep the girls at home so I could go into my crazy office and get a jump on the week!  I was here on-time, even after nursing Baby Sister!  I also had to bring in the pump today to keep the "factory" going.  I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned before my thoughts on breastfeeding.  Nursing and I have a love/hate relationship.  Large boobs do not ensure good milk supply!  It doesn't matter if I was nursing every two hours or every four, when I tried to pump, I could only get two ounces, tops...  If I got four ounces I would run around the house so excited about my "accomplishments!"  Lately I have been able to pump about four ounces every two hours and got six ounces after four hours, which is just about how often I am nursing.  I know, I know, there are women that get six ounces even after they fill up their kid!  Small triumphs, remember?

What will your triumph be today?  I'm hoping to finish that bag for my nephew but I know I have a couple hours tomorrow if I need some last minute adjustments!  Glass half-full!

Don't forget to check out how these other mommies are doing!!!