Thursday, July 17, 2014

Don't Fob Me Off

In my job, I make a lot of phone calls. I don't think it's any secret what I do - I'm a collector. Essentially, I chase businesses for money all day.

Now I can understand why people don't want to talk to me - I'm asking them to pay their bills, gasp, how dare I? And if you're having trouble with cashflow at present I imagine the last person you want to talk to is your creditor.

But today I'm not talking about Bob from Bob's Services not being able to pay his bills. I'm talking about receptionists and office staff. I'm talking about the person whose job it is to answer the business phone, or the unfortunate staff member in the workshop or warehouse who picks it up when nobody else will.

I find that more and more, people are inclined to fob me off or be openly dismissive. I don't even think it's the fact that I'm calling about money - they're not even interested in who I am most of the time, let alone why I'm ringing. Nope, if they're not the right person to speak to, I get told:
- they're not here
- ring back later
- send them an email

I also don't care if that person isn't in the office today, or if they're sick, or on leave. The least you can do is offer me an alternative person or take a message. 

More than half the time I actually have to push to have them go to the trouble of writing down a message. (I don't want to send an email. Emails get buried and deleted. I want somebody to ring me back). And even worse, I can tell half the time they're not even bothering to write down my number. They respond too quickly and the tone tells me they don't care. I must leave about 40 messages a day and you know how many return calls I get? Probably 3-5. Woeful. 

And while I'm on a rant about business politeness and niceities, I am continually astounded by the amount of phones that are not answered in a way that identify the company. eg. "Welcome to XYZ, you're speaking with Gloria/Steve.". Nope. It's "Hello?". And then I have to enquire whether I've even called the right place. Basic stuff, but it really, really irks me.

I also believe that this is happening in my personal life. People just don't bother to get back to you, they don't identify themselves when ringing, emails are just templates. My husband had a very frustrating but hilarious argument with a telemarketer the other night who kept demanding "Who you?" with him replying "You first! You're calling me!"

I don't know what the problem is, or the solution. I just know that if I have a bad interaction with a company at work or in my personal life, I'm completely put off what they're selling. And I tell other people about it. 

Are you getting fobbed off left, right and centre? Does it give you the irrits like me?

Why I Don't Write

There's a bit of a meme going around the Australian blogosphere at the moment on "Why I Write". I've enjoyed reading about a lot of people's inspirations, but at the same time I've reached a sobering conclusion: I'm not a writer.

What I mean is, I don't often feel a burning desire to pour words onto the page. I don't always have stories in me trying to get out, compelling me to put pen to paper (or more precisely, fingers to keyboard). What I do feel is the occasional desire to write down a few thoughts, to comment on recent events, or share stories of my life. This is what compels me to write my blog. Prior to the advent of the internet, I'd make do writing down this sort of stuff in a journal, or boring the pants off my friends making conversation about stuff they really couldn't care less about.

But goodness me, what a boon the online world is. I can now share these occasional bursts of writing with a wider community, not limited by geography!

I definiately do not fit the stereotype of the writer.  I do not slave over a typewriter/keyboard at all hours, creating every day. I don't suffer from "writer's block" any more because when I don't have any ideas about what to write, I don't try to force it. I'm not berating myself for not writing regularly, or have any feelings of guilt at neglecting my writing if I haven't done so in a few days or weeks.

I'm a proud Slow Blogger. Although lately I've been feeling if I wrote more, this blog would have more "engagement" (and more followers, and more of a chance at monetisation... ) I don't want to feel like I have to be producing posts every day. That's too much like work, and I already have a full time job.

And that's the key to my non-writerliness I believe. I don't want to be writing every day. I don't want to make blogging my full time job - because that's too much hard work. I say kudos to those writers and bloggers that DO make a living out of it, because I know for a fact it's not easy!

So for the moment, I'll continue to write as inspiration moves me. And I won't claim to be a writer, just a blogger who writes things sometimes.

Do you write? Regularly? Do you feeel the burning desire to tell stories? Do you call yourself a proper "writer"?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Are we obsessed with smelling good?

I've been thinking about this for a while, but a radio interview I heard recently has resolved my opinion. We are all obsessed with smelling "good". 

The interviewee was an expert on migraines, saying oen of the major triggers for people who were susceptible to them was perfume. She also mentioned that most commercial perfumes contained petrochemicals (implying buying them supported the evil oil industry) which was kind of scary. She said life for the migraine-sufferer could be extremely trying because we love in a world where everything - ourselves, our cars, our houses - is perfumed. 

I noticed recently during my parents-in-law's visit that MIL had bought a scented reed diffuser for their room.  The room didn't smell bad, as far as I could tell; she just wanted it to smell better. 

I am particularly biased against car an house air fresheners. I find the scents overwhelmingly strong and privately think that those home spray things with a timer may represent the pinnacle of frivolous First World products. That said, I don't have children so maybe I shouldn't judge others who have some difficult smells to deal with in their residence. 

I do however wear perfume every day on myself, and though it only lasts the morning on my skin, enjoy smelling "pretty".  I barely spare a thought for my fellow train seatmate whose stomach is probably roiling at the wafting cloud of Marc Jacobs at 7am. 

Is this obsession with smelling nice and having our surroundings smell "better" a recent invention? Up until a few decades ago we weren't bathing every day and probably only rich people used fragrences to cover seriously horrible body odour - or other household smells. Can you imagine what the world smelt like before running water and garbage collection in cities?

I stopped wearing perfume for a week recently to see if it was causing my occasional headaches; with no effect, so I'm back wearing it again. I am trying not to drown myself in it though. 

Do you surround yourself with nice smells? Do you worry it's causing your headaches?

Monday, July 7, 2014

I could never live in Canada

Not that there's anything wrong with Canada. Land of sexy Mounties and yummy maple syrup, I'm sure it's great. But not for me - I couldn't stand the cold.

After a few decidedly chilly mornings last week it was with relief this AM that I actually took off my winter coat upon arriving at the train station. Not needed, huzzah!

No woolen scarf or gloves required either. When they are deployed, I know I'm too cold. 

It's ironic really, because I was brought up in one of the coldest places in Qld. Winter mornings were regularly below zero and we often walked the kilometer to the bus stop against what could only be described as Arctic winds. We put our clothes on or next to the wood heater to warm them before dressing. Sometimes the pipes froze. 

It was a few weeks in South East Asia's heat and humidity and returning to a Darling Downs winter that influenced my decision to move to Brisbane, and my family now teases me about being completely acclimatized. 

I don't care. Three or four truly cold days a year is an ok price to pay for "Beautiful One Day Perfect The Next" weather for the rest. 

Do you love or loathe the cold? Has weather influenced where you live?

Saturday, July 5, 2014


I started the weekend with a plan. I even had a list - I was going to Get Stuff Done. The kind of stuff you keep putting off or can't do during the week. 

Instead, I got coerced into helping with one of my hubby's car projects. In the end I didn't mind, because it's always good to be learning and doing new things. And he bought me Japanese for lunch!

Basically we spent a few hours cleaning and prepping car interior panels for paint. It was not hard work and I got to stand in the warm sun doing it, which was nice. I've been missing some Vitamin D lately!

It was interesting being in a workshop that specializes in custom interior fit-outs - you never really think about the work that goes into these things. Lots of making, measuring, spraying, gluing and fitting going on. The workshop is owned by our friend and I like going there because he usually blasts opera and classical music while they're working, though today was all dance - disappointed!

We got a few panels done then called it a day. I'm now relaxing with my feet up having a cuppa, congratulating myself on being such a good helper. 

How's your weekend going?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Avoiding colds and flu - thank-you Kate Winslet

I'm hardly an expert, but I will say after changing a few simple habits last winter I escaped both colds and the dreaded flu for the whole season. And I have Kate Winslet to thank for it. 

Let me explain. 

Did you ever see the movie Contagion? It was a film that made you feel like never leaving the house again for fear of deadly viruses. Anyway, one scene stuck in my mind. The characters are talking about disease vectors and how the titular contagion spreads. She explains if people would just stop touching their faces, the virus wouldn't have as good an opportunity to enter the body. 

So simple. After that I made a great effort to stop touching my mouth, nose and eyes so much, particularly during/after being out in public. 

The one other thing that I started doing was paying attention to hand washing. Really. I now wash my hands whenever I enter a new building or before eating, in addition to post-lavatorial visits. 

And I wash them properly. Not doctor-level fussiness but I take at least ten seconds to scrub with soap (or just water if no soap available- I'm told it's nearly as effective?). And then I take the same amount of time to rinse. Dry thoroughly. Damp hands are not hygienic, probably. 

Thus it is I am now horrified when people literally dash their hands under the tap, shake and leave. 

Anyways, there are of course many other things you can do to help avoid the winter lurgy and stay healthy, most of which I'm sure you are aware. 

- Eat heaps of fresh fruit and veges. 

- If you need to sneeze, do it into a tissue or the crook of your elbow. 

- Minimise contact with door handles if possible. 

- Cover your mouth when you cough (and don't touch your face after!)

- Get the flu shot!

As I said, I'm no doctor but I was very surprised the difference these simple changes of habit made to my health in winter, am I'll be doing them again this year!

What do you do to avoid colds and flu?


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