Today’s Beef: ‘Schedule’ Should Mean ‘Reliable’

This is a purposely amorphous beef, got it?

Work schedules. I hate ’em. I’ve always hated ’em. Ditto for television schedules. Hell, just include event planning of any kind. When you say you’re going to do something on a particular date and time, then that something should occur on that date, at that time. And, if you’re going to change the date and time, you really ought to warn the people who might be anticipating the occurrence of same. Getting my drift?

Let’s say, you really want to watch that new show on Scifi channel, and they’ve told you it’s going to premiere on thus and such a date. Now, you know this is Sciffy, and you don’t want to record the hundred or so other airings of the same program, so you set the DVR (don’t have one? Get one. There’s two kinds of TV watching; before you have a DVR, and after. There is no going back from the experience) to restrict itself to the announced time and date of the program.

…and then they change it! No warning, no nothing. If the program is part of SciFi Friday, if you promote it as being part of SciFi Friday, doesn’t it make sense to leave it as a part of SciFi Friday, to aviod confusion. SciFi is just an example. ABC, NBC and CBS are worse; especially with the not-so-popular shows that tend to get shuffled around. Don’t even get me started on the subject of Fox and Firefly; or TVLand and their inability to actually start shows within 10 minutes of scheduled showtimes. What’s the point of an announced schedule if you aren’t going to adhere to it?

Or the family event that you’re expected to attend. Someone else does the planning, you’re just along for the ride. Tell me when to show up, and I’ll be there. Then they change it, never tell you they changed it, and are actually puzzled when this annoys you. “No, really, I like driving an hour for no reason, and then waiting for the rest of you clowns to show up. I want to do that more often” Common courtesy, ever heard of it?

Then there’s work schedules. Cast in stone, never to be altered, work schedules. You never have the days off that you want. Somebody else has always got better days off than you. And if you are setting the schedule, no one ever wants to work shifts outside of 8am to 6pm; and even in a 24 hour 365 day business, no one wants to work holidays at any time. They all whine incessantly. But you can’t change the schedule, because it’s the schedule that everyone has agreed to abide by.

Or at least, that’s the way it ought to be. Reliable scheduling, at least at work.

(here’s a thought, try offering cash incentives for holiday work and after hours work; and make sure the employee’s understand it’s an incentive. Or perhaps you should axe a few of the whiners just as an example to the rest of the crew. I just wish I could do that when it comes to family outings…)

Today’s Beef: Ever Heard of the Concept “Private Property”?

I’m walking out to check my mail today, like I do every day. Walk to the end of my driveway and open the mailbox. Drag out the collection of adverts for things I don’t want, and bills for things I need; and head back towards the house. As I am returning to the house, one of the delinquent mothers for the children that attend school across the street, driving alone in an 8 seater SUV, determines that she must turn around in my driveway.

She is actually in error in this assumption, in more than one way, but I’ll get to that shortly.

This is a perennial problem for those of us who have the misfortune to live across the street from a gov’t school (a gov’t school where my child would be a representative of a 2% minority. Not to mention the abysmal performance of the school when compared to others in the area. Consequently my son attends a different school. One I have to drive to. One with enough parking of it’s own) one of the many gov’t run businesses that are exempt from the more mundane architectural and site design rules. Mundane rules like providing adequate parking. Totally irrelevant requirements that private businesses of a similar nature could not build without. Requirements like traffic impact studies. After all, why would you want to study traffic impact around an area that will be covered with children due to the nature of the business? Why bother, the gov’t can just slap up another school zone, inconvenience travelers and property owners alike, and pretend to be aghast at each accident that occurs because they exempted themselves from (expensive) processes that they require of any other entity building within the city. But I digress.

This delinquent mother proceeds to do very large three point turn, utilizing my driveway, even though I happened to be walking in my driveway. Realizing something that she clearly doesn’t, that I’m standing on my own personal property, safe within the boundaries of my own castle, I stand my ground and slowly read my mail, all the while mouthing a few choice curses reserved for trespassers and door to door salesmen.

Clearly having not mastered the concept of property, much less the use of automatic windows, the errant mother opens her door and curses me for getting in her way. Can’t I see she needs to turn around and pick up her children?

I calmly replied, in a few less words, that she should exit my property forthwith; and that not doing so would prove out her questionable personal habits and upbringing. She then challenged me, opening the door again, to say that to her face. This proved impossible, since she immediately closed the door again and proceeded to back out, in a rather cramped fashion, into the public right of way; the area she should never have left in the first place if she didn’t want a confrontation with any irate property owner.

I contented myself with a simple hand gesture that could be seen as a rough equivalent of the words she had dared me to repeat, all the while wondering why she had not bothered to drive around the school, like the rest of the similarly sized vehicles did (they at least carry the appropriate number of people) She promptly picked up her one child, and vented her frustration at me as she drove off.

The person illegally parked by the fire hydrant in front of my house, who witnessed the whole thing, also expressed a dislike for me as she drove off. She should count herself lucky, I generally report vehicles that sit parked by that fire hydrant (although I usually slap a warning note on their windshield first) but was too concerned with being run over in my own driveway to notice the potential fire hazard sitting in the street.

So you pull up in my driveway and then curse me for using my own property in a manner that I see fit? What part of the concept Private Property isn’t clear here?


Strangely, since that day, I’ve noticed a distinct lack of traffic in front of my house. Perhaps they got the hint that private property rights are vociferously defended here. Chalk one up for the property owner. Now if I could get them to quit throwing their trash in my yard, I might not mind living next to the school.

If only dealing with the tax collector was that easy.

Classmates.com, just like being back in school

I’ve had a running battle with Classmates.com for years. I originally joined up in order to reconnect with fellow Government School survivors, see if any of them have managed to pull it all together and make something of themselves.

Little did I know that the website is run by the same quality of petty little modo that they hire to administrate the average Texas School District. I’m surprised that the world continues to exist with the weight of so many soul-less creatures living on it.

Yepper, being on the classmates site is almost exactly like being back in school. Customer service reps like the average teacher, happy as can be until you question their judgment. The bullies have changed a bit. Now the nerds who program the site are the bullies (it’s probably revenge) setting up a confining little rats maze of questionnaires that are supposed to let everyone know who you are; but don’t let you give answers that actually describe yourself. And, of course, it wouldn’t be school without the in crowd. The in crowd is represented by the people so desperate to be loved that they pay the (over priced) subscription fee (revenge of the nerds!) so that they can hang out with all their in friends from yesteryear.

…if only there was a cafeteria stocked with greasy soyburgers and wrinkly green beans, I’d feel like I was back in that nightmare.

Luckily it’s still possible to slip a note in secret to a friend, or I’d have no use for the place, at all.


From the archive:

———-

From: R. Anthony Steele
Date: Saturday, December 21, 2002 01:42 AM
To: Member Care
Subject: RE: Enter Profiles

The section on Politics is wholly inadequate.

It’s pointless to include the questions at all, if a full range of answers is not allowed. Specifically, I am a Libertarian, I have been one for more than ten years. If I continue to participate in politics, I will continue as a Libertarian. As such I am not able to complete the first of the profiles, and I’m not interested in filling out the rest unless some modification of the first is possible.

http://www.self-gov.org/wspq.html

The structure of the answers also leaves out the possibility of truthfully stating your politics if you are a Green or any other minor party.

I sincerely suggest a re-vamping of the entire structure for questions of politics.

Thanks,
R. Anthony Steele

———-

Dear Classmates Member,

Thank you for contacting Classmates. Our members are at the heart of our business, and it’s your involvement that helps us continue to grow and change to meet your needs. We appreciate and value your taking the time to provide feedback.

In response to your feedback, we will forward your message directly to a Product Manager for review. While Product Managers generally can’t respond to all feedback directly (with millions of members we get a lot of feedback), please know that member comments were responsible for the current change and have been responsible for many improvements in the Classmates site.

Again, thank you for your suggestion. We appreciate your help in making Classmates a better Web site.

Sincerely,

Kelly
Member Care Team

———-

Sounded promising. A few months later, they sent me an invite back to check out the ‘all new’ bio questions.

———-

From: R. Anthony Steele
Date: Saturday, January 25, 2003 01:42 PM
To: membercare@mc.classmates.com
Subject: Enter Profiles

I got an e-mail today claiming the profiles were “all new”. However I still can’t get past the first three questions, because ‘Libertarian’ is not an answer that I can give.

So I’ll never know what the rest of the profile looks like.

-R Anthony Steele

———-

Dear Tony,

Thank you for contacting Classmates. You can only access the first 3 questions for a profile because you are a Basic member and not a Gold member.

If we may assist you further, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,

Kitty
Member Care Team
Classmates Online
http://www.classmates.com

———-

Kitty is clearly a rocket scientist. She has stumbled across the coincidental facts that:

  1. I am a ‘free’ member, and
  2. free members are restricted from viewing the bio’s of other members past question three.
So she helpfully sends me a note. She has blithely ignored the obvious and relevant fact that don’t want to see other peoples bio’s, I simply wish to edit my own. She also calls me “Tony”. A bit familiar, don’t you think?

———-

From: R. Anthony Steele
Date: Monday, January 27, 2003 09:24 PM
To: Member Care
Subject: RE: Enter Profiles

I’m sorry, but you’ve missed the point.

I’ll never get past question number two, because question number three’s choices preclude an accurate answer. There is no dichotomy of politics; no left/right liberal/conservative contrasting of political views.

I am a libertarian and an objectivist. As such I am clearly not encouraged to participate at Classmates, since the questions are designed to exclude me.

Why would I want to pay a membership fee to a website designed to exclude me?

-RAnthony Steele

PS. Tony is a nickname I reserve for friends and family. I don’t think ya’ll have earned the right to refer to me by that name. Mr. Steele would be acceptable.

———-

From: Member Care
Sent: Tuesday, January 28, 2003 2:23 PM
To: R. ANTHONY STEELE
Subject: RE:Enter Profiles

Mr. Steele,

Thank you for getting back to Classmates. This is not a political forum here at Classmates. It is about fun and reconnecting with old friends. If you would like for us to remove your registration for you we would be more than happy to comply with that request.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have created for you. If we may assist you further, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Sincerely,

Kitty
Member Care Team
Classmates Online
http://www.classmates.com

———-

From: R. Anthony Steele
Date: Tuesday, January 28, 2003 04:58 PM
To: Member Care
Subject: RE: Enter Profiles

If it’s not a political forum, then why am I REQUIRED to state what my politics are in the ‘profile’? Also, who says politics isn’t ‘fun’?

It’s a simple request. Make the question answerable by those who do not conform to mainstream politics, or remove the question all together. It makes no difference to me, as long as some action is taken.

To take no action at all is to state unequivocally that those who do not conform need not apply; and as I am quite active all over the web, you can be certain that I will let others who share my views know exactly where classmates stands on the issue.

You can consider this an escalation of the issue. Please forward this to someone in a management position; someone who cares more about the client base than the front line techs obviously do.

Sincerely,
-RAnthony Steele

———-

After that rant I got the “sending this to the product manager” canned answer again. Well that’s just spiffy-dandy, idnit? The next time they sent me an invite to check out new content, I had a better one for them…

———-

From: R. Anthony Steele
Date: Tuesday, September 07, 2004 07:44 PM
To: membercare@mc.classmates.com
Subject: Other

Ya’ll ‘spam’ me with the latest “come visit us” message so I wander by to have a gander at who has joined. Oh, here’s a name I don’t know, who is it? Let’s check the profile… Oh, I haven’t completed my profile yet, because of the unresolved issue of the required answer to the unanswerable political question… Which still hasn’t been changed (see below) can’t complete the profile without the question, can’t read up on who is new on the site.

Kind of reduces the usefulness of Classmates for me, don’t cha think? Not being willing to include my political views kind of gives me an incentive to *not* be a paying member (something my wife has wanted to do for awhile) Feel free to snub me again, your customer NO-service types have done so before. (also see below)

More than willing to leave my name up for free at this point. Won’t be paying for a thing until something changes in the profiles.

Sincerely,
-R. Anthony Steele

———-

I have sent that one each subsequent time that they have sent me a message to “check out” something on the Classmates site. ‘Clarice’ helpfully submitted my address for removal from the optional mailing list (apparently I missed that option. There’s only about 8 pages of options to wade through) The removal didn’t take, and I had a brief conversation with ‘Sam’…

———-

Hi R. Anthony,

Thank you for contacting Classmates.
There is a selection for the political views question that says “I prefer not to answer”.

In response to your feedback, we will forward your message directly to a Product Manager for review. While Product Managers generally can’t respond to all feedback directly (with millions of members we get a lot of feedback), please know that member comments were responsible for the current change and have been responsible for many improvements in the Classmates site.

Again, thank you for your suggestion. We appreciate your help in making Classmates a better Web site.

Sincerely,

Sam
Member Care Team
Classmates Online
http://www.classmates.com

———-

From: R. Anthony Steele
Date: Friday, September 10, 2004 01:15 PM
To: Member Care
Subject: Re: Other

See, that’s the problem. I want to answer; I demand to be allowed to answer since ya’ll put the political question on the bloody thing in the first place. But, I can’t answer, because ‘libertarian’ isn’t one of the pre-set answers you can give, and I can’t just leave the question un-answered or I can’t get to the next page.

-RAnthony

———-

…and I get sent to the “product manager for review” again. They’ve since fixed the problem as far as they are concerned. The political question is no longer mandatory, you can leave it unanswered; and they quit sending me messages. I still want to answer the question. I enjoy a good political debate. Apparently I’m not the kind of person they want hanging out on Classmates. Which suits me, I was never one of the in crowd anyway…

Corporate correspondence

In the continuing saga of “The Quest for Sobe Black Tea“:

A Message from Consumer Relations 011015940A
Hello Anthony,
Thank you for taking the time to email us here at SoBe Beverages. It’s always a pleasure to hear from lizard lovers like yourself.
Unfortunately, the product that you are asking about is no longer carried by the local distributor in your area. However, keep your eyes open for new beverages from SoBe in your area. In the meantime, your comments will be shared with our sales team and senior marketing staff. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
Again, thank you for contacting us. We appreciate your interest in our company.
Lauren Napolitano
Consumer Relations Representative
lauren.napolitano@pepsi.com
011015940A

——–

Couldn’t care less about any other flavor of beverage that you produce. I have been on quest for Sobe Black Tea since I first discovered Sobe on a road trip to West Texas nearly 10 years ago. Following that discovery, I went to more than 50 quickshops in the Austin area, personally, in order to get Black Tea from the local distributor. Instead I get all the other flavors BUT Black Tea.

I can’t even buy it online. I can’t even buy it directly from you. I am beyond pissed at this point, I’m just about livid. I would really like some answers as to why I can get 19 other flavors of Sobe in Austin, but I can’t get Black Tea? Does someone need to be replaced at the local distributor? In my opinion, the answer is yes.

I would really like a response that answers questions rather than a blow off note that suggests I find something else to like. As someone who will special order Cokes, Dr. Peppers and 7-ups with real sugar in them, just to get the ‘real thing’, I think it’s a more likely possibility that Satan will ice skate to work tomorrow.

Also, I noticed that the domain name changed from lizmail.com to pepsi.com. If you notice my list of favorites, you might come to realize that there isn’t much love lost between me and Pepsi.

Your turn at bat, swing and a miss?