Tag Archives: civility

Only Child turns new leaf to kindness

Winter weather still causing problems

Winter weather still causing problems

Late last night or early this morning – depending on your time take – I had just finished reading the newspaper and was heading for bed when the power went out.

Instant panic. After the big Southern Ontario power outage of summer 2003 and the ice storm-induced outage starting Dec. 21, 2013, I do not take kindly to power outages. Especially when I have put it out there to God (or whomever you believe are the powers that be) to please keep all utilities working 24/7. And I’m not listened to.

Immediately I went into action. Phoned Toronto Hydro to report the outage but couldn’t get past the “hit No 1 to report an outage.” When I hit “1” the phone went dead on their end. I was using my trusty landline phone on the wall – no electric connections there. The next half hour was spent actually going outside and looking to see where the outage was and more phone call attempts.

Surprise. It was a small pocket on part of my street and the street my house faces. My friends next door had power and the street light on our property line was on. Back into the house with another try to get Toronto Hydro. This time it didn’t ring and nothing at their end, but all fine at my end of the phone. In my panic, I decided to try 311 – the city help line – but they were backed up with calls. So I hung up and decided to call 911 – maybe the police could report the outage to Toronto Hydro; maybe they could get through to Toronto Hydro.

Well, I got the rudest person – a civilian – in police communications. He kept rudely repeating I had to call Toronto Hydro and despite my saying I tried but couldn’t get through to them, he kept saying that 911 was for fire, police and medical emergency. On the rude scale he hit above the 10 mark. Even if not his place to help me, he could have been polite and soothing.

I finally did get through to Toronto Hydro – after getting through the main line and listening to the recorded message of current power outages being attended to (mine, not mentioned), I hit “2” instead of “1” and got a live person. What a difference from the asshole civilian at police communications. This Hydro fellow said they already had one notification from the other street here and said he would add my street to the list. I asked how long before power is restored and he said as soon as they could as they had crews at a big fire (Note: thanks to the weather – not Toronto Hydro’s fault – there are problems with the transmitters up the poles and elsewhere – come getting on fire and so the power goes out.)

I thanked the fellow and then got busy with my own emergency stuff. Moved all my “delicate” fridge food (eggs, milk and the like) except for the rest of a casserole (which shall hit the green bin) to my “second fridge” – the old milk chute from the 1950s when milk was delivered – it’s a mailbox now. Put the fridge thermometer in and a later check showed it at fridge temperature. Made several more forays into the fridge to remove fresh fruit and veggies, bread and peanut butter – stuff that could stay out of the fridge in case that was going to be part of my meals today (along with the tinned stuff I stock up on). I even managed to take a shower by candlelight. The hot water heater is gas-fueled. So is the furnace but the thermostat is hydro induced. Apparently years ago, maybe even before my time, gas furnaces started up without the hydro connection. Obviously somebody screwed up when changing that setup.

I took some valerian (natural relaxant/sleep tablet) and crawled into bed under the covers.

And if it sounds like I was composed, no. I kept getting up to check this and that. But finally fell asleep but woke up. Just after my second wake-up, and my mind was going through how I could get through my day without hydro and get my morning coffee, the power went back on. I got up and wandered through the house, enjoying the lights and being grateful.

This morning I phoned Toronto Hydro to leave a message to thank the fellow I talked to and the workers for taking the time from all these hydro fires to restore power in a small pocket where I live.

All this has made me re-think something I had tried to do a few months ago but it got lost in the swarm of bad stuff coming at me. I will now live in a more kindly manner and try to do more random acts of kindness (I have actually managed to do a few, despite all my troubles).

That doesn’t meant that those who give me a hard time get off the hook. I will just be more selective and focus on the important.

Like the rude police communications civilian. I’m contacting Toronto Police Services and complaining about his attitude. Chances are I’m not the only one he treats so callously. And as all 911 calls are recorded with the caller’s location, they shouldn’t have problems figuring out who is the guilty party here.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Civility, God, Gratitude, Life demands, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Toronto Police Services Communications, Winter Weather

Only child learns lesson in banking service

Only Child ponders that banking situation

Yesterday I had an experience with my bank that throws out the usual premise of  “big banks, big bucks, low concern for the lowly customer.” It might have been because I was polite when I complained instead of my usual storming in and shouting.

To backtrack. It was the first day after the long Canada weekend and I expected somewhat of a lineup inside the bank.  I had to go in as I had to get into my safety deposit box. When I arrived, counting a couple of older adults (well, older than I am), nine people were ahead of me, including the two standing at the only two working tellers. This bank branch has four teller wickets. A third teller, a fellow I’d never seen before had the “another officer will be pleased to serve you” sign up and was busy doing whatever tellers do when they close but still have to finish up. The lady ahead of me in line told me she’d already complained – to a loan officer as the manager wasn’t in and that third “teller” with the closed wicket was really a teller. I waited in line 20 minutes and during that time counted 12 people and one dog behind me in line.

The teller usually takes you to the safety deposit boxes, but because they were so busy she had another staffer do this. Clearly, he’d never done the safety box detail before and I had to instruct him. I maintained my civility with him and the tellers – none of this was their fault.

And maybe deep down in my subconscious I remembered another visit to another bank years ago right after my mother died. Her pension cheque had just arrived and my godmother-aunt came with me to deposit it in my now late mother’s account. I had no idea if I could do this but my godmother said it was okay as I was just depositing it into her account, not cashing it. And I was going in as me, so my name would be on the deposit slip. In my memoir I write about this scenario.

What I do remember is something else connected to money. Mom’s pension cheque for August arrived just after she died.

My godmother takes me to Mom’s bank…

“Just fill in the deposit slip in your mother’s name and deposit the whole amount,” my godmother says. “Don’t even tell them she’s dead. You can do that in a few days when the cheque clears the bank.”

I hold my breath, keep my mouth shut and pass the deposit slip (copy made for my records) to the teller. As she looks at it, I imagine someone, God, my conscience personified, but definitely not my Mom, shouting in the teller’s ear.

“Julia Langevin is dead.”

The teller rubber stamps the cheque and the deposit slips, gives me one, and puts her copy and the cheque in her drawer.

The cheque clears. Of course the estate lawyer has to notify the company issuing the cheque of her death. They write back instructing me to return the cheque if it hasn’t already been processed,

(excerpted from You Can Go Home: Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford)

The key words above are “if it hasn’t already been processed.”  The key word’s for yesterday’s bank incident could be “how to process.” I decided to phone head office and complain about the branch situation. No contact number was on the bank’s website so I phoned the general 800 number in the print phone book. Here a fellow told it me was the office of the president for complaining, and gave me a phone number…the French connection. Despite my French maiden name I can’t speak much French. So I left a cryptic message in English and checked online under the bank’s name and “president complaints” and found the English phone number.

I phoned and a pleasant man answered and took down my information. I made it clear that I gave full marks to the two tellers who were trying to cope. He replied, “thank you.” He took my name and phone number and said he would get back to me. I expected to wait a few days but it was more like a few minutes. The problem was one teller quit unexpectedly on the Friday, the third teller was a student who could only come in for the morning, and a new manager was coming in on Wednesday. And this bank representative apologized to me for the bad service.

So, is this a case of the old axiom of catching more flies with honey than vinegar? Or can bank employees – even connected to the president’s office – be polite and quick to sort out the problems?

Take your pick. Now, if only my bank balance could increase that easily.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only child writes

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Filed under Bank service, Bank service complaints, Banking, Civility, Complaining tactics, Only child, Only child memoir

Only Child: follow Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”

Only Child behind barbed wire and feeling the lack of respect

My hairdresser hit it right about the nonsense I’ve been dealing with from others. In last week’s post, Only Child tumbles into overwhelm (May 3, 2011), I mentioned some of the situations that have thrown me into overwhelm. Well, it’s not just the situations per se, but the people involved in them. While colouring my hair on Saturday, she listened to me rant and grabbed onto the incident about the person who kept phoning me  with questions and comments a couple of hours before a meeting we were both going to attend.

“She’s disrespecting you,” my hairdresser said.

I never thought of it that way, but yes, it’s true. Ditto for the fellow doing the excavation and grading work outside my house. After promising me a new-used picnic table (his idea to remedy his breaking the leg off the old table  when moving it. A new leg on the old table would have satisfied me), he is now incommunicado. He didn’t show up when he said to do the table exchange and refused to return my one follow-up phone call. Note, I said “one,” as I’ve put him on “delay” until the time arrives for him to do the grading.

All this lack of respect got me thinking in two directions. First, there is a lot of disrespect in our actions in both business and the personal. Think voice mail and the dreaded message, “Your call is very important to us.” Think rude e-mails and Facebook retaliations. This may go against what I also said last week – trying to gain control and get out of overwhelm. But perhaps, a lot of the disrespect stems from people believing they have no or little control in their lives – business or personal. My hairdresser says she’s noticed people are very cranky lately and is blaming it on a shift in the planets. Even if you don’t believe in her “why” she is right about people being grumpy. I know from my own state of mind.

The other thing I started thinking about is not just why I may not be getting the respect that I deserve but why I’ve let it happen many times. Growing up as an only child I was bullied by both a friend and a teacher (a nun).  Of course, I had no brother or sister to stand up for me and as a shy person, I was terrified to stand up for myself – unless pushed to do so. On one occasion when the bully friend and I had sharp words, I acted – with a little help from my mom.

I don’t remember the issue, but we’re standing outside on my front veranda. The Bully is letting me have it; I am burning hotter and hotter inside. Mom must hear us because when I run inside to get a knife, she hands me a ruler. The Bully knows she’s in trouble and she runs down the steps. Brandishing the ruler like I’m Zorro without the mask, I tear after her down the stairs, down the street, and around the corner. I’m steaming with how good it will feel to whack her one across the back and head, but she is too far ahead of me. Unlike Zorro, I have no horse, only my short eight-year old legs. I go right up to the side door of her house after she dashes inside. I yell and shake my ruler. I wish I had the nerve to run into her house and finish the job, but what will her mother think and do?

Maybe Mom is trying to protect me by teaching me to stand up for myself.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford)

Of course I haven’t been Ms Doormat up to now. I’ve learned from practice to be assertive in my work and sometimes in my personal life. Not without fear sometimes. I think the answer is “mutual respect.” Don’t push the person too far. Watch your timing and words when you ask for information or a favour. Mutual respect is offering to give something in return.

And here I have to add one instance in the last few days where mutual respect is happening. One of my East End Writers’ Group members has offered to help me with an area of my book proposal for my memoir because she says I have helped her with her writing within the group. In return I have offered to provide supper the evening she comes over to assist me.

Aretha Franklin had it right in her song, Respect. Spell it out like she does and listen to the words, especially the beginning, the end, and the chorus.  And follow them. Lyrics at http://www.lyrics007.com/Aretha%20Franklin%20Lyrics/Respect%20Lyrics.html, plus several video downloads on Y0u Tube.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aretha Franklin, Assertiveness, Civility, Only child, Overwhelm, Respect