Thursday, August 28, 2008

Front End Work

I'm at work and making reminder calls for the next day when the phone rings. I answer with "office voice" and have a gentleman on the phone. Right off the bat I am thinking he has a wrong number - we don't get a lot of calls from men. I can also tell he's not paying attention because he jumps into a story about how he has a Jeep Liberty, had it in for warranty work and there is still a problem. He's on the verge of going off the deep end... you can just tell.

I gently interrupt him, "excuse me sir, if I may...". I go on to tell him which hospital clinic he as contacted. There is a long pause (you could feel the heat rising to his face). He tells me he was certain he called the number they gave him. I explained that unless he wanted a mammogram for the Liberty we weren't going to be able to help him with his vehicle. Again, silence. He stutters a minute. I get out the phone book and look for the phone number of the company he meant to call. I tell him - we do front end work here but not the sort he was seeking. He chuckles.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Not relaxing just yet!

You would think I've learned by now not to completely relax and believe everything is finally going as planned. Thus my blog's name choice...

Our youngest son, fishing for salmon and school tuition in Alaska, sent a text this weekend. "We (like that pronoun... we?) may have a problem. My wallet went overboard."

I know I didn't have a problem. I was camping at a site next to a peaceful lake, surrounded by mountains and enjoying a campfire with my husband and oldest two children and families.

I stop and ponder for a brief second - was his wallet inside a pocket worn by our son? I wouldn't put it past him to avoid the part of the story where he went the ocean, to keep me from fretting. That wasn't the case. He used his wallet to store a needle necessary to repair fishing nets. The needle came out of the wallet and the wallet didn't get back into the pocket. The net went overboard and the wallet is now property of Davy Jones' locker. Oh goodie.

We will keep an eye on bank accounts since he had a couple of cards inside the wallet, though for now I'm not concerned about that issue. We'll get them cancelled and replaced. We did discuss how he would get on his homeward bound flight and return to school, without proper photo ID.

Easy enough - we should be able to go down to the DMV and get a replacement card sent up to him... (SCREEEEEEEEECH................. the sound of brakes putting a quick halt to that plan.)

We headed to DMV, pulled our number and settled in. 75 minutes later I heard our number called and we carefully rousted our numb backsides from the wooden platform we were using. Armed with his birth certificate and passport we headed to the clerk. As we are explaining she reaches for her phone and calls "downtown". Lots of nodding, 'yes', some eye contact - but no help. We retrieved our documents and were sent "downtown" to the State DMV to speak with Mrs. Boss Lady.

Once again we share our dilemna with the clerk, who apparently is assigned to keep uninformed folks like us from reaching Mrs. Boss Lady. The clerk heads into the back bowels of the DMV to speak with Mrs. Boss Lady in person. I'm sure they were discussing their weekend's events and shared a cup of coffee before returning to tell us - again - no dice.

At this point my husband asks to speak with Mrs. Boss Lady - the waiting game continues. Eventually we are granted a moment of her time. My husband, being the trainer, discusses nonstandard deviation from processes, customer satisfaction (clearly a new concept to DMV), responsibility and leadership. We had documentation but no power of attorney. Our son didn't have access to internet to print their form or a fax machine to send it back to them.

Eventually we received some positive feedback. If we can get our son to call her before 5 pm in the evening last night or by noon today, to verify some information about himself, she will mail him out a new driver's license. We paid the fee and try to be optimistic.

Our next hurdle - Fed Ex vs USPS- the service they wanted to use to send out the driver's license. Our son doesn't have a physical address - unless Fed Ex now uses GPS coordinates. It's a small fishing town. If we want to mail him something it goes to General Delivery. When he is back in port, he walks over to the Post Office and checks for mail. Very small town Mayberry.

Our son got the text we sent with instructions. They are in the middle of a 48 hour run at sea and hopefully he'll get a chance to make the call before noon our time today.

Meanwhile, I have contacted the airlines. I again explained the situation. Wallet in the ocean. No photo ID. It took the agent a couple of times through the story to convince her that yes, that included school ID, military dependent ID and his credit cards but she didn't seemed too concerned about the photo of his mom!

I was assured that if he presented his birth certificate and a truthful statement as to what happened he MIGHT be able to get on the plane if the counter agent and TSA felt it was reasonable. I inquired as to what we might be able to do to guarantee the results. Leaving it up to a TSA agent doesn't give me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

The agent goes on to tell me in addition to his birth certificate, if he had some identification from his employer... not likely as he's on a privately owned fishing boat with a crew of five... or have a coworker with him when he checks in for his flight, it may be beneficial.

Finally - my ah-ha moment. I get it! His mom and dad, with original birth certificate and passport, cannot make arrangements with a local State agency for a replacement driver's license to be sent directly to our son so he can board his flight back to school but a Federal agency will permit our 25 year old nephew (and coworker) to vouch for him! Sheez! Gotta love it!

Another Olympic Event

(I actually wrote this and was published in the local newspaper August 1996. I recently came across it again and thought - given the current summer Olympics in progress - it would be fun to share.)

The Olympics. Two words which render complete strangers into lengthy, arm-waving conversations. Everyone has heard of or spent some time watching at least one Olympic event. We've sat breathlessly awaiting the results of the last competitor. We've, no doubt, wiped a tear away, or swallowed hard.

If the viewer is particularly sensitive or patriotic he or she may be nearing dehydration by now. The Olympic games draw athletes and viewers from countries far and wide. All of the Olympic athletes are thoroughly trained for their events. Today's Olympic frenzy is at an all time high. However, there has been little said of one of the most participated-in events. There is one group of athletes who continue to maintain a rigorous work out schedule. These athletes know not what a day off means.

In previous Olympics we have followed male athletes such as Bruce Jenner, Mark Spitz, Dan Janssen and Dan O'Brien through their quest for the gold medal. We've been wowed with the strengths shown by returning female athletes like Jackie Joyner-Kersey, Gail Deyer and Janet Evans.

In 1996, spectators will be awed by the participants in the newest Olympic event - the Momathon.

Many athletic events date back to the original Olympics, held in Greece. The Momathon was created, in recent years, out of necessity. Participants must last longer and go farther than any marathon runner. This event is not limited to a mere ten events as in the decathlon. It exceeds the skills required too compete in the heptathalon. In this new event, the athlete must see how many tasks can be completed successfully in a twenty-four hour period.

The American female team is made up of moms from all over the United States. These women fear not what the dawn brings. They have trained to perfection and are ready for the challenges set before them. It's not as easy as it sounds.

Spectators may be unfamiliar with the individual rounds that must be completed before determining the champion. The following is a quick rundown of just a few of the obstacles the competitors will face.

The Morning Drill. Athletes are up at sunrise, preparing breakfast for five (nutritional value is extra), bag lunches for four, organizing school backpacks with the appropriate homework assignment, while settling the reoccuring argument over who should be in the bathroom first.

Athletes will continue with arranging the departure of three children on two different buses and one to day care. All of this is accomplished while the athlete maintains some sense of sanity, gets herself dressed for the day (including make up) and arrives to her own appointment on time.

The Laundry Sharpshooter. To win this event, athletes must maintain a keen awareness for the obvious. An Olympic stadium's worth of revolving laundry will be inside-out and armed. Participants must be able to empty a loaded pocket, previously worn by a small boy. One never knows what dangers lurk inside. The next step requires the athlete to have precision aim and a steady trigger finger, while squirting stain remover at even the smallest of targets.

The Phone Conversation. This event can be tricky. The athlete may find herself speaking with a salesperson, whose task is to convince her to change long-distance services. Other possibilities include a mother-in-law, an overseas inquiry, the doctor's office appointment confirmation or the random surveyor. Athletes must be careful not to be caught off guard and sucked into the question forum. Distractions will include the doorbell, an unbalanced washing machine, questions and answers from a teenager (usually one of their own) and the famous tears and blood combination from a young child.

The High Hurdles. Athletes will make a short dash across a toy-strewn room to prevent a pot from boiling over on the stove, thus saving the family meal of macaroni and cheese. Obstacles include the ottoman, stacks of folded laundry, building blocks, the rocking horse, two Tonka trucks and a sleeping dog.

The Five-Mile Shuffle. This event involves children and the family vehicle. Athletes must deliver no fewer than three children to three different locations, with two being required to arrive at the same time. An additional distraction, because these are the summer games, would be a detour from the closest, most obvious route, due to road construction.

The Grocery Store 100-meter Sprint. Late afternoon and the athlete must enter the local food chain store and purchase sufficient quantities of juice and treats for a child's soccer team, and dinner for the visiting office VIP, while still being able to check out through the limited number express aisle.

The Bake-Off. This feat is a common event. The athlete is told by a pajama-clad child at 9 pm that she has been volunteered to bake two dozen cupcakes for tomorrow's class party.

The 800-meter Airport Run. This event is not part of the daily routine, but nonetheless equally important. It consits of a race through any airport terminal, under construction, with a dawdling 5-year old, a crying 3-year old and a year-old sleeping child. Additional equipment necessary to qualify include an overpacked diaper bag, a bag of books and small toys, a stroller and an adult carry-on. The athlete will be arriving at Gate 33 and departing in six minutes from Gate 211 AND the plane is already loading passengers. There will be no outside assistance from skycaps.

As with any Olympic game, athletes may encounter deductions from the final score. Athletes must avoid using familiar threats such as "Wait until your father gets home," "If I catch you doing that again...," "Do you see Golden Arches in front of our house?" "If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times...". These can be costly mistakes for the medal-seeking competitor.

When all the events are completed and the scores are taillied, the winners are not looking for a gold medal placed around her neck. These winners are the ones who sigh at the end of the day when they check one last time on those angels that lie peacefully sleeping. These winners are the ones who overlook the sticky, jelly fingerprints on the stair rail or the muddy footprints across the carpet.

Today's momathon winners are the ones that receive the bear hugs and the cookie-crumb kisses at the finish line. When all is said and done, today's mom's are all winners!

Monday, August 4, 2008

I am me!

Who am I? If you checked the Dictionary to look for a definition of 'Deb', I am certain there would not be a picture of my face... I don't know Webster.

I was born a Cheesehead, joined the Navy, was both an active duty member and a Navy wife - in CA, VA, Venezuela & Puerto Rico - only to return to WI and finally land in Idaho!

While in the Navy it seemed whatever happened would happen - just like Murphy's Law. But all these events helped to define the person I am today.

My husband and I have 3 children - and a daughter-in-law we love as one of our own. Together we share our first grandson.

It has always been important to include all of our extended family. Perhaps this goes back to my childhood-surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles & cousins.

I can say what I want about my family and friends but it is better if you hold your tongue. I am protective of those I love.

I am loud and shy. I am giving and selfish. I am caring and a B!+ch. I am both teacher and student in the lessons of life. It isn't as easy as it looks.

I do not need approval to be who I am - I am me!