Sunday, June 29, 2008

Strawberries

Today I had decided I was going to make strawberry freezer jam. My sweet boyfriend had brought me an entire flat of strawberries (my favorites) and so because I enjoy strawberry freezer jam so much, it was a necessary task for the day.

So I set out to start cutting the strawberries and washing them to make this wonderful treat. As I often do, I was working in the kitchen, had laundry and several other things running while I cut the berries. I was obviously not paying close attention to what I was doing because I ended up preparing 8 cups of strawberries and dumping the sugar for 4 cups of strawberries right into the bowl.

So at this point, I think, well I will just make more jam since I enjoy it so much, no big deal. I end up running to the store, picking up more pectin, coming back home, and finishing up making 4 quarts of strawberry freezer jam. Believe me, 4 quarts of jam is a LOT of jam! I believe maybe just maybe I have made enough strawberry jam to last an entire year. However, it has to be stored in the freezer, and that will be tricky in an apartment because the freezer is smaller than I would prefer. I suppose I will simply have to be a little more careful in my planning when I shop for freezer goods for several months.

I can hardly wait to make some homemade buttermilk biscuits to try out my new treat! Yummy!

Family

The dictionary defines family as a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head. Society tends to define family as blood relatives and those related to you by marriage. I have come to a place in my life where I am simply not satisfied with either of those definitions. For me, I have come to believe that my family consists of the people I choose to be my family. Some of my blood relatives are considered family to me, however, others that I am related to by blood I never speak to, and seriously don't intend on catching up with at any point going forward.

Don't get me wrong, there was a time when several of these relatives by blood were involved in my life. However, once we all became adults and moved on with our lives, we no longer were important enough to each other to keep in touch. We really are strangers except by some old memories that from time to time surface-both good and bad memories. When I go to my hometown to visit my parents, many of these relatives by blood know I am there, but choose to not stop by to visit me, even though I had not been to town in several years. After a while, calling to say, hey I am in town did not seem to be on my priority list. I gave up on visiting with them. Apparently we have all moved on with our lives.

After two marriages, I have learned that relationships of family by marriage tend to end with the marriage. Those are simply family that is no more as well. I have learned to move on and find my own way. After doing a great deal of thought and hurting in my heart, I finally came to know what was missing. I wanted family in my life, but my family was no more. So I have created my own network...my own family.

My family is filled with people I choose to be in my life. People that I enjoy talking with, sharing time, and making good memories. My family now is made up of some blood relatives such as my kids, parents, sisters, niece , and my nephews. My family is also made up of really close friends. People I know are there for me and truly care about my well being. They are not just there when it is fun. They are there when I am sad, mad, tired, hungry, and even scared about the silly things in life such as the price of gas at the local pump. My family inspires me and encourages me to be myself and to grow, to be happy and healthy.

So my definition of family is simply this: a family consists of those you love and trust.

Helpful Hints: How to call customer service

Working in a customer service oriented business can be rewarding, however, there are those calls that come in that cause me to shake my head and wonder how some people manage to get through their daily lives without professional guidance. These same calls can be quite challenging for the customer service representative to say the least.

  • Don't be a queue jumper. When you call a customer service line, please listen to the prompts and press the correct option. Pressing a different option will route you to a different department which may result in the representative having to transfer you to another area. This can and will generally increase your hold time. Our transferring you to another department will not get you taken care of quicker. You will go to the back of the line and start holding all over again. Instead, be aware, listen, and press the right number option so you can get your issue resolved and go on with your life.
  • Answer the question. Please wait and simply answer the questions asked for account verification in the beginning of the call. If you babble out everything in a few brief seconds, the customer service representative likely did not memorize everything you just said, was not in your account yet, so the information was not available yet to verify you, and although it is a few quick questions and you feel it is "stupid" to have to identify yourself, we are required to go through this process. I have had people call in and start going through an entire identification process that involved their name, address, phone number, social security number, and mothers maiden name...only for me to ask them for name and phone number-I don't need to know the rest of your information-so why did you just give it out? Do you not care about your private data? Are you so easy to spit out a social security number? Most places will only ask you to verify the last 4 digits to begin with. Do you think that verifying your information in 30 seconds versus 2 minutes will make your issue resolved much quicker? Not really. In the end, as you start rambling on, I will be overloaded with your information while trying to catch it all, get the computer to go where it needs to be and gain some sort of understanding what your issues are (beyond being impatient).
  • Don't call from the grocery store. Seriously, the loud beeps at the register, the voice over the loud speaker, the kids screaming...it all echoes louder than in person through your cell phone. Calling from the grocery store, pool, restaurant, mall only makes it harder to hear you and resolve your issue. This also causes the representative you are speaking with to have an immediate headache. Imagine how many of these calls a representative will take in a day. Yes, we have to purchase our own headache medicine.
  • Have your transaction needs ready. Why on earth would you call to make a credit card payment and then have to ask the representative to hold while you run out to your car to get your wallet? Why is the credit card not in your hand ready to make your payment. That IS the reason you called. Be prepared.
  • Take responsibility. If you are late making your payment, who is to blame? Certainly not the representative you are speaking with. You are the one that was late paying your bill. If your services are now disconnected, you are to blame, not the customer service representative. Take responsibility. We really don't care to hear about the drama and the reasons that you did not pay the bill. Honestly, we just want to take your payment, request service restoration, tell you about any fees that you have to be informed of, and move forward to the next call. The fact that you had to pay for your dogs vet bill and missed a few days at work does not change how the call is handled, it does not change whether or not you have to pay for reconnect fees. We have to handle the call the same regardless.
  • Don't Bully. Customer service representatives listen to a great deal of verbal abuse in their day. Screaming and swearing and threatening the representative will not help you. It will only hurt you in the end. Do you know that your account history notes are filled with notes such as customer ZYX called in using a wide variety of profanity. He was asked upon several occasions to please refrain from such language and to lower his volume. When the next representative takes your call, these notes are read. Guess what? You just messed up. No one wants to talk to someone who is a jerk and abusive to their friends. so in the end, yes, there are a few special things I could do for you, like maybe lower your monthly rate plan, or fix that annoying little error you have in programming...but you know what? After reading your notes, I really don't care to go that far. Instead, I will simply answer the questions I have to so you will get off of the phone. As far as the calls you make that you are bullying the customer service representative...you will likely get placed in time out during the call. Yes, sure they are checking on something for you and will be right back. Truth be told, they are convincing themselves that they need their jobs and should not tell you what they are really thinking before coming back to the phone to deal with you.