Saturday, September 27, 2003

Yay, hooray! Live hockey at last! :o) The Phantoms beat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the NE Philadelphia Skate Zone 3-0 this afternoon. Antero Niittymaki was in goal, and I was darn proud of our baby goalie. :o)

Come to think of it, the LAST time Antero played a preseason game at the Skate Zone in NE Philly, he blanked the opponent, too. Good boy, Niitty, keep up the great work!

We have some guys trying out with the Phantoms who I hope we keep. One is a fellow named Robert Snowball. Now if that isn't a cool hockey name, what is? (Though we already had THE ultimate hockey name a few years ago, in the form of a guy named Darren Rumble. Hee hee!)
Anyway, Snowball got into a couple of dustups out there. I was trying SO hard not to make the pun, "Oh, look, a Snowball fight", but it didn't matter because the guy sitting behind me said it. LOL. Here's hoping we find a place on the team for him.

Oh, we also have a local kid, James Laux, vying for a place on the team. He's from Cherry Hill, NJ, and according to the bio information, he was born in Philly. He scored our third goal, and there was one particular group of fans who were VERY loud in their applause. I think it was his family and friends. :o) He's another one I hope makes the team. It would be really cool to have a guy who grew up as a Flyers fan playing pro hockey in the Flyers organ-eye-zation.

The only minor bummer was that Neil Little wasn't on hand at all. We had another netminder, Chris Houle, as our backup. We brought Houle on board during the preseason, and I'm wondering if he's going to be our fifth goalie on the depth chart during the regular season. Time will tell. Time certainly told why Neil wasn't on hand for this game; when I watched the Flyers preseason game this evening, they said that Flyers backup Robert Esche had a minor injury. Neil was up with the Flyers as the backup tonight. There was even a glimpse or two of him on the bench... well, if I can't see my Alpha Goalie in person with the Phantoms, a sighting of him in a Flyers jersey will do.

Unfortunately, the Flyers didn't emulate their farm team; they lost 4-2 to New Jersey.

We had some bizarre weather today... at any given moment, it could sunny (through gaps in the cloud cover), overcast, drizzling, or pouring rain. Unfortunately, Mother Nature was in Torrential Downpour Mode while we were on I-95 driving to the Skate Zone. UGH, visibility was absolutely awful! Fortunately, the worst of the rain didn't last long; it eased up to just a normal heavy rainfall soon. Even so, I can't figure out why the idiot with the convertible was driving with his top down. I told Mark, "Remember David Letterman's 'Stupid Pet Tricks' and 'Stupid Human Tricks'? This is Stupid Driver Tricks."

I'm really looking forward to the start of the regular season. I've missed hockey a lot. For now, I'm just glad to have survived another offseason. ;o)
I saw the Phantoms ad again this morning. :o) It came on during Comcast SportsRise. You can clearly see both Barb (my fellow fan and the person who told me they needed people to play fans in a TV commercial) and me on there. I presume it's going to be aired at least once during the Flyers preseason game which is being televised tonight, so I'm taping the game.

This afternoon, the Phantoms are playing a preseason game at the Skate Zone in NE Philly. Mark and Hat Trick :o) and I are going. Finally, a live hockey game!!! It'll be the first time I've attended a game since April, when we went to a Kelly Cup Finals game (ECHL championship) in Atlantic City.

The offseason is finally over! Thank the Lord!

Friday, September 26, 2003

Whew, what a morning! The traffic was hideous. Within ten minutes of leaving my house -- by which time I had already gone a few miles on the Schuylkill Expressway -- I heard on the radio that the Expressway was completely closed in both directions, because of a serious accident that took place on the wesbound side (which I use to get to work), a couple miles prior to where I exit. The DJ said, and I quote, "If you're on the Expressway, your best bet is to get off NOW". I was just reaching the 30th Street exit (this would be about 5 miles from my home) and I got off immediately. Even though this meant backtracking, and then adding 11 miles to my commute into the bargain, I headed toward I-95 South so I could completely avoid the Expressway.

Within the past couple of weeks, a different accident that closed the westbound lanes had the same detour that they were suggesting on the radio this morning, and as I recall, *those* roads were congested to the point of standstill almost right away. I figured that it'd take less time, and cause fewer ulcers, to drive the extra distance and avoid the traffic tieups on both the Expressway and the suggested alternate route. I was right... I only arrived 1/2 hour late to work. If I'd tried to follow the suggested detour, I'm certain I'd have arrived even later. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to phone ahead to the manager at work and explain that I was detouring to avoid the traffic accident that'd closed the Expressway, so he was aware of the problem and understanding about it. (Thank God for cell phones.)

On my somewhat prolonged trip to Norristown, I got to hear the news reports of WHY the roads were fouled up. There'd been a five-vehicle accident involving three cars, a pickup truck, and a tractor trailor on the westbound side of the Expressway (which I use to go in to work). The eastbound lanes were also closed, so that two Medivac helicopters could bring injured people to a hospital.

I wish this job was easily accessible by SEPTA. In order to get to work by 8 am, I would have to catch the first of three connections (bus, regional rail line, bus) at 5:45 AM. Um, no thanks. That's way too early for me. Instead, I drive there, and use the time I saved to look for something closer to home on careerbuilder.com.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

The more I pay attention, the more I realize that SOME of the permanent workers are flat-out snubbing the temps. It's to the point where if that group is all laughing and joking, if a temp chimes in, they all go dead silent. I hasten to add that this is NOT all the permanent workers, but only a particular subset of the permanent employees. I already noticed this happening to a few other people, but today I saw that I'm now added to the list. I wonder if any of them have guilty consciences, because I'm sure they're aware that Little Miss Pseudo-Helpful blew what little was left of their cover yesterday. If they cared enough to wonder how much I knew about their behavior, now they KNOW I know.

So be it... that's THEIR loss, not mine. Looks like I'll have to pare down that list of non-work-related discussion topics. The nice people will still get "Hello, goodbye, the weather, and everyone's health". The rest of them will just get "Hello, goodbye"... they won't miss MY input, and I sure as heck won't miss theirs (or, more accurately, their lack of input).

In other news, there's a particular customer whose refrigerator repair has had to be rescheduled twice. As ill luck would have it, I was the one that had to inform her of this both times. She was scheduled to get the repair done today; unfortunately, the operative word in that sentence is "was". The technician ran into a delay and sent back his last few service orders to be rescheduled. This left me with the unhappy task of having to call this woman yet again to tell her we had to reschedule the appointment.

The moment I told her who I was and why I'd called, she hung up on me without saying a single word. About a half-hour later, one of the customer service reps (who are in an adjacent room) handed me a note. She said, "This customer insists that you never call her again. I nearly laughed in her ear". I looked up the service order on the note, and what do you know? It was the lady who hung up on me. I burst out laughing. So now there's one less Harridan I have to call... I can't even BEGIN to tell you how fine I am with THAT situation. LOL... people are crazy. ;o)
GOOD GRIEF. Little Miss Pseudo-Helpful really got under the skin of the rest of the coworkers after I left. Two of the highlights were that she told one person "You're shallow" and told another person "Maybe you should change your deodorant". Were they ever ranting about her when I came in this morning (her shift begins in the afternoon, about the time my lunch break ends). There are a few people in this office who are flat-out furious with her.

This person is an instigator, plain and simple. I don't know what she's trying to accomplish, or why... from where I sit, her behavior appears more self-destructive than anything else. But I'm not going to try and figure it out. I have work to do when I'm under this roof.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Ironically, no sooner did I return from the afternoon break during which I wrote the above post, than one of the other temp workers... someone whom I've seen lampooned mercilessly by the abovementioned gossips... and also someone whom I've seen deliberately "stir the soup" and try to get a rise out of people... was helpfully talking to people she'd heard gossiped about behind their backs. So I found out just which of my foibles are the ones that the office backbiters use for fodder. All she did was confirm my suspicions, as it happens... I figured that the day I had digestive-system rebellion, which happened during my first week on this assignment, would be as good of a target as anything else for them to choose, and I was right. (God forbid any of them should give me credit for working like a dog that day when I darned well ought to have gone home sick, oh, no, let's make fun of the person for being sick instead.)

Here's the thing: I don't know if her motive was an actual attempt to be helpful or, considering how I've seen her behave towards others, if it was an attempt to set me off on a rampage and get me hollering at the coworkers who were the guilty parties. I have already watched her say some outrageous things to people which could have had no other motive but to get under their skin, so why should I be exempted from the same treatment?

In any event, I went to grade school (which I refer to as hell-imentary school) and high school for years with bullies who make this bunch of gossips and backbiters look like canonized saints. I learned YEARS ago how NOT to respond to people who are trying to get a rise out of me. I already touched on this topic weeks ago when I wrote about grieving for Dolores, and how I have a deep-rooted psychological barrier against crying in front of people. That barrier is very rarely breached, because it was built when my age was in single digits and I was being confronted by said school bullies all day, every day. I also learned the "I don't see you, I don't hear you, did you say something? I didn't notice" straight-faced response to snide remarks.

This is why I was able to look this "helpful" person right in the eye and, with a straight face and a level voice, say "Yes, that did happen" when she approached me and repeated some of the culprits' comments right to my face. She looked floored. She looked even more astonished when I told her I was aware of what was going on. I had pretty much guessed who was most likely talking (the coworkers whom I gave a Harridan of the Day award a few posts ago), and what was probably being said. I reached my conclusion weeks ago; all she did was confirm it.

So if she actually thought she was doing the right thing, her conscience is clear. On the other hand, if her real motive was to create dissent -- and judging from how I've watched her treat some other people, it's not at all unreasonable to think that was her real goal today -- she also knows that she's going to have to target someone else if she wants to get under someone's skin. I'm not taking the gossips' bait and I'm not taking HER bait, either.

Have I mentioned enough times in the past two days that I wouldn't trust most of these people as far as I could throw them? Hello, goodbye, the weather and everyone's health. Besides work-related conversation, that's about all any of them will be hearing from me. That goes for the decent ones, too, of which there are a few. It's an open office, where everyone can see and hear everyone else, and talking about my life to the decent ones will only present the backbiters with the same information... and believe me, the backbiters in this place are NOT welcome to the details of my personal life.
GEESH, but it's been years since I've seen such a group of back-biting gossips as the people in this office. I haven't had to deal with behavior like this since I was in my teens.There are a lot of people on varying schedules, so that there is always a relatively full compliment of employees who are in the office at any given time, so nearly everyone whose schedule overlaps with mine is here either before the arrival/after the departure of nearly anyone else. I've seen the way people get insulted and gossiped about when they're not present, and I don't think ANYone is immune to this treatment. I can imagine what they say about ME when I'm not there.

At least I've seen everyone's true colors, so I know better than to trust anyone here to be a friend. Hello, goodbye, the weather and everyone's health will pretty much be the only topics I'll willingly discuss under THIS roof. And even THEN, if I can just sit and do my work and keep to myself, I'd MUCH rather do that instead... I'm dedicated to interacting with people here just the bare minimum that I have to, to avoid being labelled "antisocial".

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

This morning I was ready to nominate Mother Nature for the Harridan of the Day award. The rush hour took place during a torrential downpour. Visibility was absolutely terrible and a surprising (to me) amount of the Schuylkill Expressway's surface was covered by puddles of water. I thought it had better drainage than that! Then again, the rain was coming down so hard, maybe NO amount of drainage would have been enough.

As if that wasn't enough, I arrived at work (after taking over an hour for a commute that should have taken 40 minutes) to find a message screen that was backed up from here to the next time zone with a queue of messages. Techs were writing in to report traffic jams, downed trees, power failures, accidents, closed roads, and detours caused by the weather, and that wasn't even the worst of it! Late this morning, we started getting reports that a tornado had gone through Havertown, a suburb where at least one calling center employee lives. Ugh. Mornings like this are why the companies that make aspirin and antacids will never go out of business.

Today, I went to track down Joe M's service order number for his refrigerator, and found that it'd been cancelled. The reason given for the cancellation was that the customer had gotten another service to do the repair, so I'll have to ask him about that tonight at choir practice. I guess I don't have to worry about whether he's planning to try out for the Harridan of the Day after all. ;o)

Tomorrow morning is the deceased tech's funeral. :o( There are a lot of technicians who will be in attendance, so I suspect we will be rescheduling a LOT of service orders later tomorrow. I hope the customers are understanding about it. It's going to be a sad enough day tomorrow as it is.

Monday, September 22, 2003

OK, it took me until the final phone call before leaving for the night, but I got my Harridan of the Day nominee.

This would be the lady who, on being told that the tech that'd been slated to work on her refrigerator was delayed at a previous assignment and we had to reschedule, first said "Well, I already had someone else come fix it", but when I asked if that meant she wanted to cancel the service order, she vehemently said "No!"

Um, OK... so when I gave her the next available date that a tech could come out, I didn't worry about the fact that it was a couple weeks from now. I mean, she DID just say that someone else fixed her fridge, didn't she? Well, this didn't stop her from blowing a gasket. "WHAT! I waited all day!"

I looked at her service order and saw she was full of hot air. "Yes, ma'am, I can see you were waiting from 12 to 4".

She was not mollified. "Well IF I HAD been waiting from 8-12, and IF I HAD been waiting from 12-4, I would have wasted the whole day!"

What? In *my* dialect of English, when I say "if I had" waited, it means that I did NOT wait. So unless I miss my guess, she was NOT waiting all day, and yet she was yelling at me as if she had. Fine, I'd play along.

"Let me give you the 800 number for customer service..."

"Yeah, 1-800-FULL-OF-CR@P!"

I'll never know how I didn't burst out laughing in her ear. I apparently have more self-control than I gave myself credit for.

She wasn't done. "I want YOUR BADGE NUMBER and I want to speak to your manager".

"Ma'am, I haven't GOT a badge number..."

"YOU'RE LYING!!!!!"

"I'm *not* lying. I'm a temp worker, they brought several of us on board here because the office was swamped with work".

"Fine, I want your badge number".

"I don't HAVE a badge number."

"Then I want to speak to your manager."

"1-800..."

"I said I WANT TO SPEAK TO YOUR MANAGER!!!!"

"He's GONE for the day." (Which he was; it was after 5 PM. He comes in at the crack of dawn and leaves early.) "Even if he weren't, I'm only able to give you the number for customer service".

"What's YOUR name?"

"Donna."

"What's your badge number?"

"I don't HAVE a badge number. Ma'am, do you want to reschedule this appointment?"

*click* ... :::dial tone:::

To the dial tone, I mused, "I guess not". I summarized all this in the notes on the service order, because I have no doubt she'll track down the Customer Service number and call them. Freaking grouch. HER phone number should be 1-800-HARRIDAN.

P.S. I was relatively nice to her. When I wrote up the details, I omitted her rendition of our 800 number. ;o)
Oh, boy. Just what I need. Joe M's landlord got his fridge at Nameless Nationwide Department Store, and its icemaker is acting up. I got a call earlier this afternoon from Joe M, stating that if he gets rescheduled, HE'LL be my next Harridan of the Day. Aiee...
What a beginning to this week! :o( There was a technician who was absent on Friday. No one could make contact with him, and there was no evidence that he'd arrived at any of his assignments that day, so after a couple of hours, we started calling the customers on his route and rescheduling them. I helped with that... I jotted down the tech's number, looked up his route, and called whichever customers hadn't been contacted yet. Since he was slated for a vacation day on Saturday, there was some speculation that he'd also taken Friday off and we simply had incomplete information about his day off. If that were the case, it wouldn't be the first time something like that took place.

Well, this morning the news was broken that one of the techs, who was only 43 years old, took his own life over the weekend. His roommate found him on Friday night. I overheard a comment that made me wonder if this was the tech whose route I helped call off. I tracked down the tech number I'd jotted down, looked it up, and discovered that it WAS the same person. :o( Needless to say, it's pretty sad around here today. In particular, the router who handled the assignments for this tech is pretty upset. He went home sick about an hour and a half, MAYBE two hours, after he arrived at work and heard the news. He's in shock because he said that the tech was upbeat every time he spoke to him. He said that the tech even told him a few days ago he'd be off on Saturday but working Monday.

For that matter, no one else here had any inkling that anything was wrong. No one saw any warning signs or had any reason to believe that the tech was suicidal. I wish I knew ANY of these people well enough to tell them that I understand firsthand about depression and what damage it can do to a person's ability to think rationally. But I've overheard more than enough office gossip about other people, and I don't trust anyone here enough to share that information yet. If I can figure out a way to mention something without making myself into gossip fodder, I'll do it.

In the meantime, would anyone who reads this and says prayers please say some for the tech and his family and friends.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Yesterday was our trip to New York to see Big River. I can't possibly pay enough compliments to this production, whose cast included deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing actors, and which combined ASL and voice impeccably. The combination of the signs, voice, and music was absolutely brilliant! I've seen some ASL-interpreted performances before, of both plays and musicals, where there are a couple of interpreters stationed off to one side of the stage. I've seen productions of plays by Deaf theatre companies, where there are voice interpreters and everyone on stage is signing. But I've never witnessed a performance like this in my life... the entire cast signed, the hearing cast members spoke and sang their own parts, and other hearing cast members provided the voice-over for the deaf actors. The signing itself was choreographed so that actors who were signing lyrics performed in both visual and musical harmony.

I tried to give myself a day to think about how I could describe the experience of attending this performance, but words still fail me. Moving and amazing and incredible just aren't sufficient. This production was crafted, with tremendous skill, by people who are fluent in four languages: English, ASL, music, and dance.

We had front-row center-stage seats, and it's no exaggeration to say that the edge of the stage was within arm's length of us; so were the performers if they were standing at the front of the stage. When they moved quickly, we felt the breeze caused by their passing. And at one point, when the guy playing Tom Sawyer ran past and his foot landed mostly on/partway off the edge of the stage and I heard the sound of his shoe slipping, I thought I was about to become a bit more involved in the story than I'd bargained for. If he'd lost his balance at that moment, he'd have landed right in my lap. (Mind you, this wouldn't necessarily have been a bad thing... ;o) ) We also had a good laugh when Huck and Jim's raft proceeded along the river, and the fog started rolling in. The clouds of vapor from the dry ice drifted from the back of the stage toward the front... and then proceeded to cascade right off the stage and into the first couple of rows before dissipating. We were literally immersed up to our shoulders in mist. Not that I'm complaining, though -- I'd felt a bit overheated prior to that, but a few minutes of sitting in the fog cooled me off fast.

I wish there was a video for sale of this performance... I would buy it in a heartbeat. But in the absence of that, I certainly will be replaying my memory "video" of yesterday many times over.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Well, everything's still standing... there are a lot of problems with power outages and downed trees in the suburbs, but in Philly and on my drive to work, it was pretty peaceful. In fact, the Schuylkill Expressway, which normally is BY FAR the worst part of my commute, was nearly empty. Maybe a lot of people's alarm clocks never went off, or maybe a bunch of them decided to take the day off from work (whether or not they HAD to... what's their boss going to do? Come check on each employee's street to make sure there was power and no downed trees?). In any event, if the Excess-way was like this EVERY morning, I wouldn't mind this commute at all.

There were some traffic lights out on my way to work, though... one of them was at a really huge intersection where Passyunk Avenue, Oregon Avenue, and the on/off ramps for the Schuylkill Expressway meet. All of the connecting streets are two-way thoroughfares with at least two lanes in each direction. Fortunately, there were two cops on site regulating the traffic flow, because a lack of a traffic light at that intersection would be a major hazard. The other light was out at the off-ramp from I-476N to Chemical Road, and I cringed because the traffic can be very heavy THERE, too. Fortunately, there weren't other cars coming at the time I arrived there, so I treated it like a 4-way stop sign (as per the authorities' instructions during the news reports this morning) and proceeded on my way.

One thing I did notice is an inordinate amount of leaf debris. On some parts of the Expressway, the shoulders of the road looked as though they were carpeted with green leaves. There were some branches lining the edge of the roadway, also, but fortunately there weren't many of those. I'm not sure who cleared the mess over to the side of the highway, but I commend them for doing a great job.

Once I exited the highways and proceeded through the streets of Norristown, I again noticed the extremely light traffic. Boy, I wish the roads were this clear EVERY morning! There didn't appear to be much damage, fortunately, other than the same sort of leaves/branches which had been cleared to the roadside. There was one sign which stood on a business's lawn which was pushed down flat, too.

The greenhouse across from where I work appears to be missing a group of panes that I don't recall being broken before, and the garage with the sagging roof appears no different than it did yesterday afternoon. Beyond that, it's all over here but the cleanup. Thank God that this region came through the storm without too many serious problems.

Lunchtime... HOLY COW have we got a ton of calls to reschedule today! Thank goodness most people are understanding about it. Between the people who have to be rescheduled because a lot of technicians are out today, and the people who need a new appointment because they have a power outage, it's been a chaotic morning. The afternoon looks like it'll be just as hectic.

Oh, well -- we survived a tropical storm last night. A crazy workday is nothing compared to that. ;o)

Thursday, September 18, 2003

OK, could someone explain to me how it is that a customer in May's Landing -- you know, in the shore area (that's supposed to be hardest-hit) and in the state where Gov. McGreevy has declared a state of emergency -- could be irate when we tell her that our NJ techs have been pulled off the road, and we need to reschedule her repair appointment? HELLO... it's a state of emergency, for crying out loud! People have to clear the roads, by law! I was tempted to tell this lady, who apparently can't imagine life without an icemaker, to get over herself. Instead, I just bit my tongue and rescheduled her service.
Welcome to the land of the Hurricane Watch... or more accurately, the Tropical Storm watch. I got a message from a technician in May's Landing (near Atlantic City) this morning stating that the rain hadn't started but the winds were really picking up. I could imagine, because that's how the weather was here. Then at 1 PM, I got another message stating "Here comes the rain". I've seen the aftermath of hurricanes in the shore area, and it's likely to be a mess before the weather calms down... I messaged back, "Drive carefully. Arks full of pairs of animals have the right of way. ;)".

So far in this area, we still have heavily overcast skies and brisk wind, but no rain... yet. There is a tropical storm watch throughout this region, because by the time what's left of isabel reaches here, that's what strength they expect the winds to have. We're told we will have heavy rain with gusts up to 65 mph. I'm not looking forward to it.

Across the street from the building where I work are a couple of structures that I hope withstand the coming storm. One is a greenhouse (that already had several broken panes prior to the hurricane), and another is a garage attached to a house which appears to be empty. The garage's roof is noticeably sagging. There's a truck and a dumpster parked in the driveway of the empty-looking house, so maybe the owner is taking some precautions in advance of the oncoming severe weather.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

So here we are, on yet another day of Hurricane Isabel Watch. I've been checking this site now and again:



I am *SO* not looking forward to this turn in the weather. As I posted earlier, we had torrential, non-hurricane-generated rain for a lot of Monday, and as a result the ground is probably going to be pretty saturated. There's a significant risk of flooding. I hope this region comes through this weather crisis all right.

Monday, September 15, 2003

FINALLY some actual hockey! ... and other news

Last weekend was pretty cool. On Friday night, my parents, Mark, and I went to the surprise 50th birthday party for my cousin Joe's wife, Christine. The only negative was that the drive down was terrible... we had to drive from Philly to Smithville, NJ (in the general vicinity of Atlantic City) at rush hour, in twilight, in rain and fog. UGH on the commute. We got there quite literally about two minutes before the guest of honor. The hostess at the Smithville Inn shooed us into the side room where the party was being held, and we arrived just barely in time to avoid being seen prematurely and spoiling the surprise.

I remember having visited The Historic Town of Smithville when I was in high school. I really enjoyed it. I think I'd like to suggest it to my friends for our next group day-trip outing. In fact, I also think I'll look it up online and if it's accessible to deaf-blind people, maybe we can have THAT group of friends make a visit there, too. In either case, I'm certain Hat Trick will like it. :o)

Saturday rocked: it was the first (and probably the only, this year) visit I was able to make to the Flyers/Phantoms training camp. How great it was to see our boys on the ice again! :o)!!! They were using both ice surfaces at once for drills during the morning session; in the afternoon, there was a scrimmage on the Flyers' rink, mostly consisting of the kids from juniors and guys from the Phantoms. The rest of the players, primarily Flyers guys, returned to the ice to do drills on the Phantoms' rink. Neil Little and the two baby goalies from juniors (Rejean Beauchemin and David Tremblay) were on the Flyers' side for the scrimmage; since there were three of them, they each took part of the scrimmage. Neil let in two goals during his portion of the game... the first one was an impossible save, but he looked pretty miffed about the second one. The final score was 2-0, but since the goalies switched around I forget if it was team black or white that actually won, lol. Oh, well.

Speaking of baby goalies: during the morning session, I was in the Flyers' rink watching the drills where Neil Little, Robert Esche, and Rejean Beauchemin were the goalies. Neil is a big nutball... he stood behind Rejean during the "huddle" where everyone was gathered around the coach for instructions. He kept poking Rejean in the back of the leg with the tip of his goalie paddle. Poor baby goalie, he's probably used to being around SANE people. He kept turning around to see what was touching him, but of course by then the goalie paddle was nowhere near him. LOL... as one of my fellow fans describes it, they're all little boys in grown men's bodies. ;o)

When the scrimmage was over, I wandered over to the other rink, and watched the Flyers' goalie coach, Rejean Lemelin (boy, we like guys with that name, don't we? :o) ) working with the two Flyers goalies, Jeff Hackett and Robert Esche. The guys looked good overall. It was interesting to watch some of the situations that the coach was giving our netminders to deal with. The seven players who were assisting by taking the shots on goal were having fun with it, and so were the goalies. :o) That was my first sight of Jeff Hackett in a Flyers uniform. Out of the goaltenders who were available this summer, I was hoping that he would be the one we brought on board. I'm looking forward to watching him play here.

AACK on the weather we had on Monday, btw... we had an absolute freaking MONSOON all afternoon, particularly during the rush-hour drive home. MAN, was that horrible. Norristown's streets were under water for the entire distance from here to the Blue Route (I-476). It wasn't until I got to the highway portion of the drive home -- the part I was most worried about -- that the roads improved and the rainfall eased up until it was a NORMAL "heavy rain" situation. Blah... and we are supposed to get weather from Hurricane Isabel in a couple of days? YUCK and double yuck, we're already waterlogged and we need more heavy rain like we need a hole in the head. :o( Here's hoping the hurricane heads in whatever direction will cause it to affect this region as little as possible, because we already had flooding in this region on Monday night. More heavy rainfall will only cause us more of the same.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

What a nice weekend! On Saturday, Mark and I went to see the Phillies play the Mets. Outside the stadium, to my surprise, were the Budweiser Clydesdales, hitched to a wagon and complete with two drivers and a Dalmation. I had known that the Clydesdales were slated to appear at a new cafe at 15th and Packer on Sunday afternoon... Mark and I (and Hat Trick, of course) were planning to see them. But seeing them on Saturday night was an unexpected bonus.

I took a few photos of them, including one with Hat Trick in the foreground. I also tried to sneak in a moment of doting on the nearest horse, the one on the right-hand side of the front pair. I offered him my hand to sniff, and felt a big warm PUFFFF of breath across my outstretched hand as he took a whiff to see if I had any treats for him. I was satisfied that he was OK with my being that close, since he just stood there without moving after finding that my hand held no snacks. So I briefly stroked his big velvety nose and told him what a good boy he was. Unfortunately, that
was when one of the horses' caretakers asked me to step back. Darn... but I *did* get to dote on the nice horsie for a second. :o)

Now, as far as the Phillies game... you know, I really do try to be non-superstitious about Hat Trick's role as a good luck charm. I do. But more than once, if I set him up to "watch" a game, be it on TV or live, the team I am rooting for comes back from behind and takes a lead. Saturday was no different. There were some kids with a Flat Stanley sitting in front of me, early in the game, so I let them pose Hat Trick with Flat Stanley as part of their project. The Phillies took a lead. Then after the picture, I put Hat Trick away in my tote bag. The Mets took the lead from the Phillies. After a few innings of watching the Phillies trail, I brought Hat Trick back OUT of the bag and sat him on an empty chair next to me, atop my handbag, as though he was one of the spectators. The Phillies regained the lead with a HUGE inning, and this time they maintained the lead for the rest of the game. (Hat Trick remained sitting next to me for the rest of the game, too... coincidence? YOU be the judge. ;o) )

Sunday, as I said, was Round Two of our encounter with Clydesdales. This time, I was able to get one of the horses' caretakers... the one woman in the bunch... to pose standing in front of the lead horses while holding Hat Trick. The same horse whose nose I petted the night before glanced over and gave Hat Trick an inquisitive sniff. I told the horse, "That's not a snack, that's a toy." Fortunately, Hat Trick bore no scent of anything that would be appetizing to a Clydesdale, and I got to take the pic without incident. :o)

At the end of the day, when I was watching them unhitch each horse in turn and stow all the equipment in a trailer, the dalmation (Louie) started wandering through the remaining crowd and soaking up lots of doting. :o) To my surprise, I saw that Louie has BLUE eyes. I've never seen a blue-eyed dalmation before. That was pretty interesting. I asked one of the guys who works with the horses about this, and he said it's not an uncommon trait. I know that in cats, there are cases of the blue-eyed gene (in white cats) being linked to hereditary deafness, and I also understand that there is a deafness trait that crops up sometimes in the dalmation breed. I asked if the two were connected, and was told there is no link. The man added, "He's not deaf; he has selective hearing". LOL!

All in all, it was a nice weekend. A nice two days of pretty weather, watching the Phillies win, patting Clydesdales and Dalmations, and no harridans. Can you beat that?

Friday, September 05, 2003

I think that "Harridan of the Day" isn't enough to describe the irate customer who SHOWS UP AT THE CALLING CENTER to pitch a fit over being rescheduled...! She was not at home when the tech arrived, and as per the company's policy when no one is on the premises, the appointment was automatically slated to be rescheduled. I don't know where exactly in our building she was, but I could hear her yelling as though it was on the other side of a wall somewhere, DEMANDING that we send out someone else.

Unfortunately, this particular irate customer lives in the Norristown area and is aware of the location of the calling center. One of the people in the routing department says she knows who the lady is, and she's crazy.

Needless to say, nobody left our little corner of the building for any reason until we were reasonably sure the coast was clear.

Sheesh. This is one customer I really DO hope chooses to take their business elsewhere. Preferably to a store whose calling center is located in another time zone.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

So I finally spent nearly the whole day on the message screen. HOORAY. I like that! Most of the messages are ordinary, business-related things, such as requests to verify that the next customer on a tech's route is at home. However, the occasional one will give an inkling of a particular tech's sense of humor. For example, one tech wrote in after he completed his route, "It's raining, it's pouring, if you don't need me for anything else I'll be home snoring". Another tech exclaimed, "I was attacked by a bird on that job!", which prompted me to respond, "Beware of fowl with foul tempers". ;o)

I still had to do carryovers toward the end of the day (groan), but at least I got to wait until 3:00 or so before I started having to deal with harridans. This is good, because my stress level was relatively low by the time I left work, drove a block to the gas station to fill the tank... and my car decided not to start when I was ready to leave.

Mind you, there had been some funky symptoms in the past couple of weeks. For one, remember that blog comment right before this job began, that the fan wasn't working? The battery light was on when the fan acted up. Then that problem went away. The trouble is, this morning it was replaced by the radio going on and off when I activated the turn signal. (Due to the weather, poor visibility, and humidity, I already had the headlights, defoggers, and windshield wipers going. The radio was on, and the turn signal apparently was the final straw -- the radio and clock blinked on and off in a pattern opposite to when the turn signal was illuminated. I thought, "THIS can't be good". But no warning lights showed on the dashboard.

At 5 PM, when I went to start the car, it was noticeably slow to respond when I turned the ignition key. Fortunately, I decided to get gas BEFORE leaving for home, because I don't want to think how it might have turned out if the car had decided to quit on me at some point during my drive on the Blue Route or the Schuylkill Expressway. If the car was going to decide to hibernate, at least it chose a gas station that is open until 10 PM to do it, because poor Mark had to drive out there from South Philly to get me home.

I am figuring out what kind of bus schedule will get me to work tomorrow morning. Arriving by 8 AM is an impossibility, but I can arrive between 8 and 9. Hopefully before 8:30, even. I have to double-check the SEPTA schedules. And if Mark can drop me off at the subway station, so much the better and my commute will go more quickly.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

OK, one short rant and then I'll backtrack and mention what a nice weekend it was.

TODAY'S Harridan of the Day award goes to two of my coworkers. I don't care HOW badly their respective days were going, MINE wasn't going any better and I didn't appreciate being treated as rudely as I was by either of them. I'm not planning to be rude in return, but I'm done giving them more than "Hello", "Goodbye", whatever other bare minimum is necessary for manners' sake, and conversation that's directly work-related.

That was the proverbial last straw... at lunchtime I went into the parking lot with my cell phone and called the two temp agencies I'm enrolled with. To the one that didn't get me this assignment, I said "I need something NOW". They haven't got anything. But at least they know I'm available. To the agency that did get me this assignment, I let it be known that the long commute is killing me and I really, really need them to transfer me to an assignment that's closer to home as soon as they find something. Yeah, I blamed it on the commute... the daily round-trip IS hideous, but if I liked the job or the pay was half-decent, I'd put up with the commute. Since I neither like the job NOR think the pay is anything remotely resembling compensation for the job's level of stress and aggravation, I am not willing to cope with this commute over an extended time, either.

OK, now that I've gotten THAT out of my system... we had a great weekend. The Other Donna came down from New England, and a bunch of us went to Strasburg (again, lol, Mark and I were just there a few weeks ago) and did some shopping in Lancaster County. My suggestion that we should arrange to spend an entire weekend there was pretty well-received. There are so many things to do out there, and there's not enough time to do everything in one day. The last few times I've been to Lancaster County, there has been at least one major thing that we've had to put off doing until "the next time we come here". I'm tired of that -- if we spend a weekend, we'll have more than enough time to go places and do things without rushing through it all. So maybe one of these days I'll be blogging about a Lancaster County weekend instead of just a day-trip.

Sunday was nice: all of us went to Karla and Al's for a barbecue. Joe's aunt brought Pokeno, which I hadn't played in ages. I always did like that game. :o)

On Monday, which was the Labor Day holiday, Mark and I went to our nephew Thomas's 21st birthday party. We met the chicken who visits my sister-in-law's yard from the neighbor's property across the street. My gosh, that's one big bird! She's pretty, too -- I have to see if I can find out if there's any particular kind of chicken that's got yellow-gold feathers all over it. My cat-in-law (aka my sister-in-law's cat), who is an enormous feline weighing at least 20 lbs, is scared to death of the chicken. LOL!!! The moment the bird arrived in the yard, the cat started meowing to come into the house. When nobody let him in quickly enough to suit His Royal Fuzziness, he leaped up onto the picnic table and avoided encountering the chicken that way. All I could think was, "If you describe someone who's afraid of something as 'chicken', then what do you use to describe someone who's afraid OF a chicken?" Inquiring minds wanna know.