To Make a Stink or Not to Make a Stink? That is the Question.

Husband has been with the same company for 7 years.   He is a hard worker with a good work ethic, and he goes above and beyond the call of duty on a regular basis.  Last week his company was pitching a new client, and they didn’t even ask him for an animation because his department is slammed with regular work right now.  Husband worked on it at home on his own time at his own impetus because he knew it would give his company an edge, and it looks like his animation will land them the client.

Great, isn’t he?

He’s also a terrific troubleshooter, and has become the go-to guy for hardware and software tech support in addition to his regular duties.

They love him almost as much as I do.

Like most of the rest of corporate America, times are tough at Large Conglomerate.  There were massive layoffs last year, and a handy dandy pay cut to go along with it.   Grateful to keep his job, we accepted the cut with as much grace as possible.

Things are going much better now.  His office has hooked several new clients, and receipts are way up.  Being part of a Large Conglomerate, though, means that the entire company has to be in the black consistently before his old pay is reinstated, no matter how much his little piece of the pie shines.

Poop.

The other day the HR person was chatting with Husband, and the subject of vacation came up.  She’s been there 2 years longer than Husband, and takes 4 weeks of vacation (compared to Husband’s three).  She said there was no written policy dictating when the 4th week was awarded, and she’d gotten her 4th week 2 year before.  She volunteered to ask if Husband could get a 4th week, too.

We were both excited about this possibility, thinking that:

1.  He deserves a bonus for all of the extra work he does consistently, and

2.  It would help lessen the blow of the pay cut.

Today the HR person forwarded Husband an email from the corporate HR department denying the request, and it included the policy in place addressing the 4th week of vacation.  As with many other companies, employees of Large Conglomerate are eligible for the 4th week of vacation after ten years of service.

Fine.

But why does HR person get the 4th week?  Do labor laws not specifiy that all employees of the same class get the same benefits on the same schedule?  I’m sure executive level rules are different, but at Husband’s and HR person’s level they absolutely do.  Don’t they?

That’s discriminatory.  And it isn’t the first time the company has exhibited discriminatory practices.  Heck, I’m Jewish and even I don’t think Jewish employees should get Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur off with pay without giving other employees commensurate time off.

These things are unfair.

Husband, of course, will do nothing.  He doesn’t want HR person to lose her extra week, which she surely would if he made a stink.

But to me it stinks anyway.  It violates my innate sense of fairness.

What would you do?

JCPenney’s Misleading Coupon Means I left JC Without Giving Them Any of My Pennies

JCPenney Coupon crop

I received an email offering the above coupon, which gives a 15% discount off of regular and sale price merchandise, expiring today, August 1, 2009.  I  thought it was a good deal.  I even shared it with you.

Today Son and I went into the store and selected several items. When the cashier was ringing in the sale the coupon did not work, and she and another cashier claimed it was because the items I selected were clearance items.

Nowhere on the coupon does it say that you cannot use the coupon on clearance items.  The cashier claimed that the coupon was only good on sale and regular price merchandise.

Um, yeah.  Clearance stuff is on sale.

“No,” she explained.  “Clearance is not sale.”

Excuse me? In what universe is that true?

When I begged to differ and explain that they may be correct in the JCP world, or perhaps even in the retail world, in the real world customers see clearance items as being on sale. This, in my opinion, is very misleading. JCP needs to realize that not everyone using their coupons and reading their ads is aware of this industry-centric hair splitting. If you did not want the percentage off coupon to be accepted for clearance items then clearance items should be excluded on the coupon, in writing.

And it was clearly not.

And another thing.  Customers who would like to explain their problem with the misleading coupon should not be talked over and interrupted to the point they cannot get a word in edgewise, refused the opportunity to speak to a manager, nor asked, ” So do you want it or not?”   Because when that happens those customers will do what I did – say, “No, thank you,” and see the nasty looks and eye rolling begin as they turn to walk out of the store.  Possibly never to return.

While I did and do have an issue with the unclear wording of the coupon, what was much more disturbing was the way I was treated by their employees.   If they would have simply said, “Yes, maam.  I can understand why that could be confusing and unclear.  I’d be happy to pass along your feedback to my store manager,” then I likely would have purchased the selected items anyway.

I didn’t want to – and refused to – argue.  I just wanted the opportunity to explain my issue with the wording of the coupon.

Instead I sit here having left JC alone without any of my pennies, irritated and waiting for a response back from their customer service department – promised within 48 hours.

On the Firing of Carrie Prejean. And World Peace.

Thee California Miss USA pageant has officially fired Carrie Prejean and appointed her runner-up to take over as Miss California for the remainder of her reign.  The official reason for the dismissal is failure to meet contractual obligations.  Not the furor resulting from her controversial answer to Perez Hilton’s gay marriage question during the Miss USA telecast.

I have several thoughts on this subject.

1.  Carrie Prejean was asked her views on same-sex marriage as part of the Miss USA competition.  An unfair and inappropriate competition question.  As were several of the other questions.  Unless you understand that the only appropriate way to respond to these questions is to bring out your best Stepford-wife smile and give the vaguest, simpiest, most politically correct response – and understand that your real views don’t matter.  At all.  World peace!

2.  Carrie Prejean needs to understand that adding, “no offense to anyone…” to her comments does not magically make them inoffensive to those that are, um, offended.  It’s tap-tap-no-erasies.    “I think all Jews should be exterminated because that’s the way I was raised…no offense to anyone!”  Get it now, Carrie?  World Peace!

3.  There is not a doubt in my mind that Carrie Prejean did not fulfill every single of of her contractual obligations.  There’s  also not a doubt in my mind that she really got fired for her comments, her adherence to those comments, and her new association with organizations that feel the same.  Pageant officials were gunning for her, period.  World Peace!

4.  The head of the California Miss USA pageant might get  more people to believe that the contractual obligations WERE the real reason for her ousting if he didn’t – in the same interview – derisively point out that Carrie’s attorney is also the attorney for a group that works to prevent the passage of laws allowing gay marriage.  Um, so what?  We know how she feels on the subject.  Why should she not have an attorney with similar beliefs?  Would Perez Hilton hire an attorney who was against gay marriage?  And while we’re on the subject…

5.  Perez Hilton is an asshat.  You don’t agree with Carrie?  Fine.  Don’t call her the C word.  Don’t make fun of her (and millions of others’) belief in G-d.   I could write pages on his asshatity, but he’s just not worth my time.

6.  Tami Farrell, the pageant 1st runner-up who takes over as Miss California, cannot keep from smiling.  She’s been rubbing her hands together and licking her chops for weeks.   Better mind her p’s and q’s, that one.  World Peace!

Politically correct“.  Dangerous words, those.   People are starting to be afraid to speak their minds in fear of retribution – political, financial, social.  Methinks that’s happened a time or twelve in the history of the world.  Anyone remember The Crusades?  The Inquisition?  The Holocaust?  Tiananman Square?

I think we need to proceed with caution.  And lots of it.

World Peace!

Old Navy Admits They Goofed

They actually listened.

Back in May I wrote about Old Navy and the Tragedy of the Turn-Cuff Socks. I was left bereft that Old Navy had discontinued most of the colors of the socks that work best for Son, so I wrote a letter to them expressing my disappointment with only being able to dress my son in navy, gray, beige and white. No longer were they being sold individually. It was a sad day indeed.

Fast forward to Saturday. I had some time before my pedicure, so I popped into Old Navy to see if they had any of their terrific pajamas on clearance. If they did I’d find a new BFF to take advantage of the 20% off I mentioned in a Deal of the Day last week.

Imagine my delight when came upon this sight:

There’s red! And green! And royal blue! There’s brown socks, and black socks and white and beige too!!!! Sold individually, and at the same price as before!

The sign says, “We know we goofed. Triple Roll Socks are back!”

I don’t know or care if they changed the name from “Turn Cuff”, or if they had two different styles. The bottom line is that Son can now have more than just navy, gray, beige and white.

Thanks for listening, Old Navy!

An Eye for an Eye

The cruelty that people show towards one another makes me feel sad, outraged and impotent to make it better. It’s why I avoid the news much of the time, and when I don’t you get posts like this, this and this (I think that was my best ever post title!).

It’s gotten much worse since I became a mother. Before motherhood I could read and watch stories about human cruelties, but could never read or watch anything about animals being hurt, even unintentionally. I’ve never seen Sounder, and the scene in Benji where the dog gets kicked triggered a crying jag that forced my Mom to take me out of the theater at the ripe old age of eight. I’d feel very sad and sorry about kids being hurt, but I could watch and read the stories.

Sometime during my pregnancy with Son things changed. I began to have the same reaction to stories about children that I’d always had to stories about animals. It causes such pain in my soul that I avoid them at most costs. When an online friend who was pregnant at the same time tragically lost her son shortly after birth I could not even hear what happened, and to this day don’t know the entire story. I can’t. I just can’t.

Today I read a story that I would not normally read. I don’t know what had me read it, but read it I did. It’s about a mother who lets her disabled daughter starve to death, and the friends and government workers whose lack of morals and the most basic common decency allowed it to happen.

This particular case was so heinous because this poor child was failed at every turn. Caseworkers who never went to see her and then conspired with agency supervisors to create and backdate reports detailing visits that never happened. Another that went once and had the mother pre-sign for future visits because he was too lazy to go back. Friends who lied about the girl’s state in the days before she died.

There’s more, and it’s all so very appalling.

I feel an overwhelming sadness for what that poor girl was made to suffer. The fact that it was at the hands of her parents – the people who were supposed to love and care for her – makes me weep. I think of my friend who lost her precious son, and I wonder how these parents – and all the other parents who inconceivably harm their children – can take such a precious gift from G-d so for granted, especially when there are other parents-in-waiting who would do anything to be so gifted.

I am not violent nor a vengeful person. But all I can think about is how much I feel these people should suffer. How I would love to see an eye for an eye. Warning! If you are like me and can’t read specifics about this tragedy please skip the rest of this paragraph! How much I’d like to see them lying in their own urine and feces, unable to move, as their raspy voices beg, beg for water. I want to see maggots in their bedsores, formed because they were forced to stay in the same bed for so long that the outline of their body is imprinted in the mattress.

I want them to suffer. A lot.  Why should they get mercy when that poor girl was denied?

So please join me tonight in a little prayer for the soul of Danieal. May she find in death that which she never experienced in life: peace.

Workout’s Deenie and Gregg – a Lack of Respect

Workout is not a show I usually watch. I did catch part of the show last night, though, and it royally pissed me off.

I have seen it a few times, but usually it’s only on in the background after I’ve moved onto another activity while not bothering to turn the television off.

If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s a reality show set in a gym owned by a woman named Jackie. The show depicts gym life and Jackie’s personal life. As part of the show they run a special, intense boot camp program called Skylab for very out-of-shape people to get into shape.

The portion that caught my eye involved Gregg, one of the trainers, and Deenie, one of the trainees. Deenie went into the assistant manager’s office to voice her concerns about her relationship with Gregg. He was late for their training session that day, and he’d been consistently late. She had a hard time scheduling sessions due to his intense schedule, and he also was not returning her calls in a timely manner.

Deenie is a morbidly obese girl who wants to be able to walk into the Gap and buy a pair of jeans. She wanted a relationship with her trainer that’s warm and supportive, motivating her and making her feel that she’s part of a team – just the way Jackie, the owner, described the program.

As they’re talking Gregg arrives and Deenie and the assistant manager confront him. Deenie’s trying to diplomatically tell him what she wants and Gregg is not open at all. Not even a little bit. He tries to make it all about her lack of commitment. She may or may not have a lack of commitment, but what Deenie is trying to address is his lack of respect. She’s paying him. Be on time.  And she wants a relationship with her trainer like the one Jackie described.

Gregg gets very defensive and starts bellowing about her speaking disrespectfully to him (she commented that the dismissive comment he made was “bullshit”), and at this point my blood pressure is boiling.

He’s dismissive, he keeps cutting her off, even says that Jackie doesn’t know what she’s talking about. And Deenie gets upset because she’s not being understood. At one point she comments that she wants more from him than the three hours per week in the gym and he replies that she can call him any time. She says, “You. Don’t. Call. Me. Back.” He doesn’t address this at all. He says, “Just, first of all, it needs to be understood that, I mean that, as far as this situation goes I am the expert.”

WHAT?

Then the assistant manager tells Gregg, in a misguided attempt to calm things down, that all Deenie wants is some love and attention, and Deenie and I both look at the assistant manager like she’s NUTS. He’s not her Daddy (though part of me wondered if she wasn’t reliving a past conversation in THAT relationship). He’s her trainer!  It’s not about love and affection, it’s about R-E-S-P-E-C-T (bow down to Aretha).

That’s NOT it, people. She’s not feeling like her trainer is responsible, and she’s not feeling like they’re a team.

True, she wasn’t effectively communicating her point. Also true, he was not open to listening AT ALL. He’s the expert and she has to trust him. She can’t work out due to injury (which he was derisive about), she tries to reply that there must be other suggestions he can make/things she can do to move things along but she can’t even get it out of her mouth before he gives a dismissive and final “No.”

No? There’s nothing? Nothing?

“There’s got to be a certain respect that comes with us talking or us training together,” Gregg says in an interview later. Exactly, Gregg. Why don’t you start doing that?!!!!!

UGH.

Later Gregg talks to Jackie, the owner, and totally skews it so that Deenie looks like a lunatic. Jackie totally backs Gregg, but tells him to work it out because he’ll feel good if he does, and if it doesn’t work out at least he’ll know he tried.

In the end Gregg calls Deenie and says, “Let’s let bygones be bygones,” and she agrees. And then he admits he doesn’t like her.

I would so not work out with him again. He would be so fired. I think Deenie is setting herself up to fail by staying with a trainer who has no respect for her. It shouldn’t be about him, but at the same time part of the motivation to keep working is knowing you have someone who will walk with you, sweat with you and kick your butt if need be.

Jackie should give this girl a refund. I don’t even need to see another show to know that this girl, who probably should never have been accepted to such an intense program to begin with (for medical reasons), will likely not succeed.

I know that there are good trainers out there who are not only educated in exercise physiology but also in how to keep individuals motivate. Having been a member of several gyms, though, I’ve run across attitudes like Gregg’s before. Why is it that so many trainers have contempt for the people that pay them? Of course many of the students lack consistent commitment. Of course they’re going to get discouraged and want to quit.

If they knew how to keep themselves motivated and knew what exercises to do and how to do them correctly they wouldn’t need to hire a trainer.

If all you want to do is train hardbodies to be harder than only have them as clients. Leave the really challenged people alone. But if you want to really make a difference in someone’s life let go of your contempt and your judgments and ride the wave of emotions to help create a healthier life with a fat chick.

Old Navy and the Tragedy of the Turn-Cuff Socks

Dear Old Navy:

My three-year-old son has wide feet. As a result many of the socks on the market don’t fit him correctly. When he was about three months old I discovered the joy that is the Old Navy Turn-Cuff socks and have been buying them ever since. There have always been a variety of colors so that I could match every outfit. I’ve been thrilled.

I tried Target’s store brand, and even Gymboree’s and they just don’t hold a candle. Target’s don’t wear as well, and Gymboree’s are too stiff and tight – and they run small.

The other day I went into my local Old Navy to stock up and was saddened to see that you are no longer selling the socks individually in the stores. You still offer a multi-pack in white, but only four colors in your boy’s multi-pack – navy, gray, beige and white. Not only that, the store I went to only had sizes up to 12 months and the manager could not tell even me if or when they’d get more in (another issue that irks me to no end).

Navy, gray, beige and white? That’s it ? These are kids. Babies. Toddlers. Preschoolers. Why can’t they have green, or red, or light blue socks? Why must they be in boring shades of neutral?

You do offer more colors for girls. The girl’s pack has two shades of pink, purple and white and the rainbow pack includes purple, pink, yellow and red. But once again boys’ fashion gets shafted.

Old Navy is supposed to be the hip, now, up-to-the-minute frugal fashion store. Navy, gray, beige and white?

I cannot tell you how disappointed I am.

Navy, gray, beige and white.

Sigh.

The Two Hundred Penny Salute

Husband and I are not permissive parents. We think loving, firm discipline is important, and we want Son to have a healthy – but not blind – respect for authority.  We want him to understand that sometimes you lead by following.

I already know we’ll be the parents that let the child sit in jail overnight if he takes a car on a joyride, and we’ll not complain to the School Board if Son gets suspended one day for destroying school property, or cussing out a teacher (although I certainly hope none of these things happen). In fact, Son would get additional punishment at home. The schools have a tough road to hoe, and I plan to be supportive. To a point.

But we do need to allow children to be children. There has been much ado in the press about suspensions for hugging and kissing, even among elementary kids. There’s a difference between sexual harassment, though, and two best girlfriends sharing a hug.

Now there’s the case of the children in New Jersey suspended for paying for their lunch with pennies. Their lunch period had been shortened, and they decided to let their dissatisfaction be known by paying their $2.00 lunch in pennies.

They were promptly given two-day detentions for holding up the line, and for being disrespectful.

Okay. If these children were disrespectful they deserve those detentions. I agree completely. Wholeheartedly. I have no doubt that a few were disrespectful, but all twenty-nine? I find that doubtful. In fact, I venture to guess that it was the cafeteria workers, faced with the prospect of counting all of those pennies, who got disrespectful first. That doesn’t excuse the students’ disrespect, but it does put in in context.

All of that aside, what was the big deal about them paying with pennies? Last time I checked pennies were still US currency.

I think it was clever. Wonderfully juvenile. And who best to exhibit such juvenile behavior than…juveniles? Civil disobedience at it’s most basic.

Some are saying it wasn’t protest; it was a prank. So what? It doesn’t matter if it was protest or prank, it was harmless. And if we start taking away children’s right to some harmless fun, where exactly are we headed? I understand the need to keep order in the schools, and how hard that can be. But they weren’t in class, they were at lunch, when they should be able to loosen up a little.  Letting off some steam helps them to be calm and focused in class, wouldn’t you think?

And what would have happened if the cafeteria cashiers had simply smiled and taken the money? Because, really, we all know how hard it is to count out two hundred pennies…and that it takes all of thirty seconds.  Nothing would have happened, except perhaps a zen moment between the students and staff.

The school’s response? To pardon the detentions, unless the parents want them served.

If it were my kid and he was disrespectful he’d serve those detentions. For being disrespectful. But not for being a kid pulling a harmless prank, or protest, or however the school chooses to (mis)characterize it.. Definitely not.

Can we please lighten up a little? Please?

How Do They Sleep at Night? Part 4 – Banks and their Usurious Fees

My Dad went to Las Vegas last week and did a wee bit of winning. When he got back to his L.A. home he deposited the money, about $9000 (woo hoo!), into his business account there.

He was very surprised to discover that his bank had charged him a service fee. Apparently, he deposited too much money with them.

Yeah. See, they charge .30 per $100 for any deposit greater than $5000. Apparently “their exposure is greater.” Whatever that means.

A bank. That’s using his money to make money of their own. Charging him for the privilege of allowing them to do so.

Those are some pretty huge, green kahunas. And that got me thinking about other bank fees that really get my panties in a twist…

My husband walked into a branch to cash a check a friend had written to him. The teller told him there was a $5 charge to cash the check because he didn’t have an account there. “But this check is written on your bank! Why should you get my money to cash your own check?” After listening to the woman spew the company line he turned on his heel and left.

Another bank here charges you to talk to a teller. Indeed.

I’ve read that other banks are charging fees to deposit or withdraw from accounts and to transfer money between them. There are fees if you dip below a certain balance, and fees if you write too many checks. There are fees if you write too few checks.

I’ll bet some  have pay toilets.

They charge three times as much to order new checks for you than you’d pay yourself by ordering through a secondary vendor like www.checksunlimited.com.

Don’t  even get me started on credit card fees

I understand that banks are businesses. I don’t have a problem with every fee banks charge. I’m aware of and even support fees for bounced checks. We’re all responsible to know how much money we have in our accounts, and if we blunder we need to pay the price. At the same time, a $25 charge for a $3 overdraft just seems usurious.

I’m also not completely against banks charging fees when you use an ATM that isn’t in your network. You’re paying for the convenience of not having to travel far out of your way to find your own bank. Fine. You save money on gas, so it’s almost a wash.

Apparently, though, we’re supposed to understand that the banks are also victims of the sub-prime mortgage crisis. They must raise their fees to try to make up a portion of the money they don’t have since they lost their shirts making bad loans.

Boo-hoo.  My heart breaks for ya.

Like this post? Read the other posts in this series!

See the Stretch Your Dollar Page for other money-saving ideas.

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