Monthly Archives: February 2018

Only Child on people’s stupidity wasting my time

Your customer service rep today

Lately I’ve been getting up feeling that there isn’t too much to look forward to for the day – or I have one or more nagging problem to face. Even today, on an untypical winter’s day. Sun is shining and it going to be warm – 54 F on the old scale.

I’m feeling better now and I think it is because I’ve been busy tackling my time and getting back on track with starting my workday on time. I also re-recorded my voice mail message – much shorter and to the point – starting with if this call is personal, please call… and I state when – not during my business hours. I also mention when I will take calls for writing and editing. And I finish with “Or leave a brief message. Thank you.” Emphasis on the “brief”.  I don’t want your life story as some do. Now, with long messages, I will delete them once the life story finishes, that is.

I also thought a brief summary of some of the ridiculous problems I’ve been dealing with the past month – at least 90 per cent caused by “outside”, i.e. I didn’t cause them; they were caused by big business, government, other people, etc. But I’m stuck with fixing the problem. So, here is a short summary of the most ridiculous. People can be so stupid. WARNING: I name some names.

1. I belong to CARP – the Canadian Association for Retired Persons (a misnomer as members can be anywhere over 45 and many of us are not retired). But they are good with advocating for our rights as older people, especially to  government, plus you get deals with things like insurance and pharmacies and they publish the Zoomer magazine. But apparently their in-house administration needs some fixing. My membership runs out the end of February according to my membership card. For the first time I did not receive a renewal notice (I’ve been a member for more years than I can remember) so I phoned earlier this month. My “new” card arrived a week ago – dated February 2018. What’s wrong with this picture? i phoned and complained and asked for a correct new card to be sent to arrive by the end of the month, send it priority post if necessary and that because they screwed up I deserve that – this latter after they said it takes two to three week to send it out. Well, they didn’t listen -priority post would have gotten it here before now, which is one week later.

2. Empire Life Insurance Company which has had my life insurance policy for years and increases the payments every year, but never tells me ahead of time or how much. Just sends me “threatening” letters six months or so before the fiscal year is  up or after, stating that my policy will  be cancelled if I don’t pay X$ right now. I have repeatedly phoned them on this, stating I have no problem paying any quarterly increase that starts with each new fiscal year – but they have to let me know what the quarterly increase is. This year I did the math on the amount they say I owed until August 1 (fiscal year end/start) and it works out to the two quarterly payments I still owe when I am billed for each quarterly. I was just going to pay the current quarterly when the annual nasty letter arrived. This time I think I got someone who has some idea what she is doing and she said she would put a note in my file that I requested receiving notice of the actual quarterly increase a month before the fiscal year end/beginning and to just mail in the actual quarterly payment due now and the next one in May. Which I did for the quarterly then due. And I have complained about Empire Life to the Insurance Bureau of Canada and they said they don’t cover life insurance – just car and property insurance companies. I have also looked into getting life insurance elsewhere but have been warned to be careful here. Maybe I’ll go to CARP again on it and see what they have to say. Oh! When I get my new correct membership card.

3. I wasted last Thursday morning on the phone with Dell Canada trying to extend the service warranty on my leased desktop PC for another year. I might have been asking for them to deliver the sun and the moon. Except for instructing me how to do a check on the hardware in the computer to make sure it was all working (it was 100 per cent), the customer service rep in the finance department I got didn’t know what to do (she kept putting me on hold to check with her supervisor) and I had to repeat several times what I wanted and how I was going to pay for it. She finally gave me a quote and transferred me to someone else to take my payment info. Then back to her and after waiting some time she told me that there was a problem processing it but it wasn’t my card – it was Dell but she worded it like the problem was connected to me paying with a card. After being put on hold for more time, I hung up and tried to call back (to get somebody else) at the number she gave me. I got the usual Dell runaround from operator to operator to wrong country to wrong department until I landed back at the original place – but with la different rep who knew what she was doing. She got me a quote and it turns out the first rep had quoted higher because she had included a laser printer. Huh? I don’t have a Dell printer and that was never discussed with rep No. 1. This rep No. 1 had emailed me a “how am I doing?” email – twice – while we were still talking and there was a link to her supervisor. So I emailed him to complain. Got a quick reply and he wins the prize for stupidest person on the earth. He said the first rep. did it right, there was a “tool” causing the processing my order problem (Tool? We weren’t gardening or doing house repairs here? Did he mean software?). His grammar and spelling were atrocious for a supervisor. And he didn’t even apologize. But I may have gotten my just desserts in all of this, though – when I filled in the survey form that came in yesterday.

The list goes on. But that’s enough. People can be so inconsiderate and stupid.

So, I’m looking out the window at the sun shining and hoping I can go for a walk at lunchtime.

What is one stupid problem caused by someone else you had to deal with? And how did you deal with it?



Only Child Writes

Something to look forward to in a few months




Filed under Complaining tactics, Consumer action, Insurance, Only child, Problems, Seniors, Snafus, Zoomers

Only Child’s thoughts on son turning 40

Sharon and Martin

My son  Martin turned 40 on Saturday and that opens a whole she-bang of emotions and thoughts. Some are probably obvious, like we are all getting older. In this crazy world (and “crazy” is being kind), I’m not sure living to a ripe old age is a good idea. No, 40 isn’t a ripe old age, but getting into and being in seniorville – let’s just say the downs often overshadow the ups.

But, one of the ups is Martin – at 4o or 20. He  may not always answer my emails or phone calls promptly, but he helps me a lot – not just with computers (that’s his line of work) but with some life-threatening events. Events, such as the big unwelcome and uncalled for prolonged ice storm December 2013 in southern Ontario. The storm caused power outages, sporadic in locationa (a friend living near me had no power outage; Martin didn’t either) but I did and so did everyone on my street  for 48 hours. Others were without power for longer. Martin was on the phone constantly to me (I used my old landline phone on the wall which still worked – as long as I didn’t touch the wireless landline extension) to see how I (and the boarder and her cat living with me then) were coping. He told me what to do to remove the ice on the veranda and for a path down to the road without just hacking away with an axe and shovel. And when the temperature was going to dive down he insisted that we go to a downtown hotel and stay – at his expense. I just had to pay for the cab to get there. Martin also took us (not the cat) out for dinner at a nearby restaurant after he got us settled in (the cat, too) and got my laptop hooked up to the hotel’s wi-fi system for guests. He also phoned me when the power had come back on in my neighbourhood. He had found out from my friend next door who had texted  him. And he was there with a leased car and a ham and potatoes for Christmas dinner on Christmas Day. And drove us home. He did stay out of it while the boarder and I pitched stuff still in the fridge that hadn’t fit in the temporary fridge (an old closed up from the outside milk chute) and a very few items from the big freezer. But he did cook dinner and we all exchanged Christmas presents.

He was raised by both parents, despite my ex and I being separated since Martin was a toddler. At first it was dicey, but once some routines were agreed on  – with the flexibility factor included – I think this joint parenting worked. My ex was good getting Martin into things like scouts and soccer   – just as well as I don’t drive, but we both kept tabs on Martin’s experiences in school, including going together to parent and teacher evenings for grade school. One year, Martin’s spelling was terrible (he was seven or eight) and so my ex and I, as a team, descended on the school, prepared to give his teacher hell for ignoring this spelling problem…until we arrived to meet her and saw her leg in a cast. We downplayed our anger to concern. The following year Martin had a teacher very concerned with his students’ spelling.

I wasn’t a harsh disciplinarian with my son, preferring to use what I had learned from a friend who had raise three children – the consequences method – all actions had consequences. Some of my work friends condemned or made fun of this attitude, but that and talking things out with Martin seemed to pay off. To paraphrase another friend, my son turned out well and I am proud of him.

Martin is also an accomplished musician, playing guitar and lap steel guitar with a local Toronto band called Beams. This Friday, Feb.23, Beams is holding the launch party for the release of its second CD at a bar called Little Budda in downtown Toronto. They will play around 11 p.m. but the opening band is earlier. My friend, Carol and I plan to go. Click on the Beams link HERE for their website with info on the CD and song excerpts and go to their Facebook page for tickets.

And oh, yeah he hasn’t missed any of the three book launches for my three Beyond mystery books.

He has been spending time with his dad and his dad’s wife and friends across the pond but now that he’s back I will be taking him and his girlfriend out for dinner one evening next week. I did email him a birthday greeting last week, complete with a 40th birthday cake graphic inserted in the email (e-cards got too confusing for me to work – they used to be easier to send).



Only Child Writes


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Filed under Actions Consequences, Help and Support, Martin Crawford

Only Child plows through overwhelm

Teddy keeping track of time

That little fellow sitting on the clock is going to continue to show up in at least some of my blog posts until I get a better handle on this time thing. But despite all the crap coming from outside, I have made some progress. In another post I’ll go into all the problems that have been shoved my way since last week. The ones I don’t cause but have to deal with the fallout for. No doubt more will zoom in before that.

I finally figured out how to tackle and get somewhere with clearing out all the paperwork in my office. And if you think my desk is piled with random paper scattered everywhere, uh, uh, no. What gets put on the desk while I work usually gets put away at the end of my work day. Ditto any filing that lands in the tray on top of the file cabinet. There is, however, a small metal rack on  my desk by the printer and some of that still needs clearing. But last Sunday I managed to sort out the papers that were lying under my daytimer, also beside the printer, and tackled some of the stuff in envelopes in that rack. Until I got down to the bits of paper, envelopes and the like that have addresses on them that need to be put in my address book. I know there is Outlook and the like online, but having tried some of that, unless it is email addresses and a list of family addresses and phone numbers, I prefer old-fashioned address/phone book – the small kind. As for those big fat Bell telephone books (do they even print those anymore), unless I want to check out how to use some of the extras with my phone service, I don’t use those phone books. I do check people’s addresses and phone numbers, restaurants, etc. online, though, plus search for items I need to buy (like humidifier filters) before I head out the door. And yes, I do by some online. But some items I just like to eyeball in person or with clothes, especially shoes, try on first.

Anyway, while tackling the items on that wire rack, I hit some business cards and that got me started on sorting them out. I have almost a whole side drawer of my desk filled with old business cards; most in those folders with plastic inserts to hold the cards. Those went back over 10 years when I was doing a lot of networking for my business. My “business” is much different now. I’m not into networking with small businesses per say. Besides the age of the cards (and some sticking to the plastic insert), what struck me is the ambiguity of the information on the cards. Yes, there was a person’s, name, phone number, email address and website. But their business names in 90 per cent of the case were so vague, you couldn’t figure out what they were doing. And no clear tagline to state what they do.

My business cards (designed by my son) read on one side:

To the right of my photo (see head shot near the top of my blog itself. It’s my brand photo that follows me around online):

Sharon A. Crawford


We make words sparkle.

And my phone no.,  city and country, website and email address.

Other side features the front covers of my two latest Beyond mystery series Beyond Blood and Beyond Faith with above and below that:

Author of the Beyond mystery series

Published by Blue Denim Press

and the publisher’s website URL


Clarity is important.

And clarity is something I am using to tackle streamlining my life – business and personal. That card and other paper sorting and purging took one and a quarter hours. I figure one and a half hours a weekend will get the job done eventually and in a steady way.

Meantime, I came across a fabulous website that has all sorts of articles on reining in what you do. It is geared more towards business but there is some personal included. For example, one article states it isn’t a good idea to use separate calendars for business and personal because you could over book yourself. I already was following that. My “daytimer” has one page for each day and I draw a line (with a ruler) down the middle. At the top of one I put “Biz “and at the top of the other I put “Personal”.

One thing this article also said was a big reason people get overwhelmed with their day and just don’t get things done is they put first what others want them to do and put themselves last. The article says to do the latter. I agree, although if you have work deadlines you need to consider them. However, I am finding that some of the things I do for others, like workshop and course development and outlining, book promo (often for some of us authors together) I really like doing. So putting that first is like putting something I am doing for me first.

But that’s a whole other topic.

Here is the page with the article.

If you Google “fast company and scheduling” you’ll get a whole list of links to their other other articles.

As that egg commercial says, “get cracking.”



Cover of Beyond Faith on back of my biz card

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Filed under Beyond Blood, Beyond Faith, Life Balance, Life demands, Prioritizing, Sharon A. Crawford, Time management, to do list

Only Child needs a time management boost

Only Child and her Dad on the veranda of house where she grew up.

My late father used to sit at the kitchen table and re-set his watch based on the wall clock above the table. At dinner time. It annoyed my mom no end. But Dad was timekeeper for CN Railways (then CNR), so what did Mom or I expect?

I’ve inherited Dad’s penchant for keeping track of time and the related getting things done. Dad may have been better at it than me, and I don’t think it has anything to do with keeping the watch regulated – at least for me.

Despite going through the annual goals, etc. list (including purging unnecessary tasks, etc.), I am still in a big stage of overwhelm and spending too much time doing what isn’t a priority for me. Lots more has to be deleted from what I do and lots more has to be shoved onto the back burner, some maybe indefinitely and then eventually scrapped when I can stop holding onto them and let them go.

And letting go of the guilt that goes with dumping things you do, and even people, from your life. The latter sounds harsh, but I have had to evaluate who in my life I need to well, dump. This includes the obvious people I don’t like and/or we have nothing in common.

But I also have to consider where our values don’t jive. For example, being a responsible person and keeping promises is very important to me. So is being decisive. Here, I’m talking about something as simple as two friends deciding to meet at a specific event at a specific time, and one waffles either about if she will get there as she has so much else to do – or promising she will meet there and then she never shows up and I don’t get a phone call about it.

This the modus operandi of one of my so-called friends. There was even another friend involved for one event. Friend No. 2 and I were to meet the irresponsible one at at the annual Zoomer’s Show. The two of us waited and waited outside the show area for ages and guess who never showed up. At least we were waiting inside.

Let’s face it – stuff happens beyond our control. High on the list are getting sick and bad weather. But these are exceptions.

Also on my list is something that is harder to deal with but is a big time waster – problems that come from outside me and yes,  outside my friends and my relationship. Problems from utilities, governments and insurance companies. In most cases, they have caused the problem but I’m stuck with trying to get it straightened out. I can’t exactly cancel using the utility, or not pay my taxes, etc. Unfortunately, these things take time, my time.

And I resent it.

So, I’m going through my goals and the like again and weeding out more.

My health depends on it.

And dealing with health issues is another time-waster. However,  I have taken the recourse of doing what I have to do for my health – but if it is beyond what normal healthy people do for their health, then I do it when it is convenient for me. At least that’s what I’ve been trying out the past few months. Yes, sometimes I forget the damn eye drops, but you know, if it was safe to put one type of eye drop (three prescriptions although two are together), right after the other instead of waiting five or 10 minutes for the second drop, it would help. I don’t have time to stand around for five or ten minutes, so I go on to something else.

Then, forgot to put in the damn eye drops.

And don’t get me into wasting a half day at the ophthalmologist’s – two and a half hours minimum  in the waiting room. I have politely spoken to her about it, even suggested she hire another ophthalmologist, but that didn’t sit too well with her.

Do any of you have any ideas on time management? How do you manage your time in your daily living?



Only Child Writes



Filed under Family and Friends, Health, Life Balance, Life demands, Only child, Prioritizing, Time management, Uncategorized