Friday, October 21, 2016

Conversation, May You Rest In Peace

There seems to be an abundance of talking, texting, and tweeting going on as of late but I can't help but notice how little conversation there is.  Frankly, I find it troubling.

As a little girl I spent a lot of time with my paternal grandparents who resided in the South. It was an era when the men would gather at the "filling" station to sit on the bench, drink their Yoohoos and Dr. Peppers and length.  Their conversations were usually pleasant with a lot of head nodding but even when they disagreed, it all seemed friendly enough.  Their chats consisted of stories of the past as well as all the current local news. These men stayed friends for life. Maybe all that sharing bonded them in some way. Those that were still living shuffled their way into his funeral.

The act of getting together to visit wasn't solely a male activity back then.  This was true for the women as well.  Women in that area met for "quilting bees" which was done around a big wooden frame while women hand stitched quilt blocks onto fabric but as they worked they were catching up on all the local stories.  I learned a lot about life listening to the chatter.

 For example: At one point when I was eavesdropping the conversation was about a lady named Sally that lived down the road. Sally had started a little side business "visiting" with men during the day when her husband was working out in the fields. From the tone of the conversation, I gathered that the women weren't enthusiastically supporting Sally's entrepreneurial exploits.  I later asked my grandma why men would want to visit with Miss Sally as she was really scary looking and was minus a lot of her teeth.  My grandma assured me that the men weren't paying to look at her face. 

Anyway....I come from a long line of people that enjoy just sitting around talking. That would be  the long-winded, storytelling, killing time, kind of talking.  I am saddened that it is disappearing. 

Every now and then I see glimpses of this style of conversation but it's becoming rarer.  Usually, I find that conversation, even when spoken out loud as opposed to communicating via devices, it tends to be more likened to a volleying of quips.  Not so much expounding on facts or ideas as much as pitching short thoughts at someone while they try to punt their ideas back at you, often while you are still talking.

If you ever have watched the television program,  The View, you know what I mean.  OR if you watched any of the current political debates, you can see what I am talking about.  Basically, it's an auditory assault more than a two way conversation.

Last week was a busy week for me as I had to spend some extra time preparing for the computer class I teach to "senior" seniors.  We are currently working on how to use our smartphones and tablets.  Part of the struggle of teaching 80 and 90 year olds about this type of technology is trying to explain "why" at their age any of this technology is even worth the effort to learn.

The reason they want to learn it is to stay connected to their families.  One gentleman in the class was saying about the time he had developed a great way to communicate with his grandson through emails, his grandson had moved onto texting.  The boy now has stated he would prefer chat via text messaging.  So  Chuck (name changed as he may not want me talking about him) bought an iPhone and now  is eager to learn the ins and outs of texting.

My heart breaks. I suggested he trade in his grandson but he seems very attached to the one he has and is willing to become a proficient texter.  I asked him the age of this particular grandson and he replied the child is now 18.  I hope against hope that this child will grow into a man and sit down with his grandfather to talk.  I, of course want for them to have  REAL lengthy conversations that grandson can reflect on when he is in his 80s.  Is that too much to ask?

Frankly, I am tired of the art of talking being reduced to status updates.   I am prepared to blame both Facebook and Twitter for  their part in turning the tide on the old relaxed give-and-take style of talking to this "one sided" launching of words into the territory of someone else's "one side" launching of words.  One could always hope that at some point the ideas land together in some meaningful  way to form a conversation. conspires against those of us that long for lengthy, wordy, descriptive talk fests. Just as Chuck's grandson many people have embraced a text only lifestyle that is reduced to shorthand, abbreviated words or even worse.... communicating with emojis.  Take for example: Recently a car company conducted a customer satisfaction survey but asked the participants to answer only in emojis. They have a commercial that shows  a portion of this survey as well.   Visualize me having a sad face.

If I wasn't already a bit peeved at the current lack of expansive and civil conversation, yesterday I received an email from Twitter. It asked me if I know how to Tweet.  I could think that their comment sounded a bit accusatory but they aren't entirely wrong.  While I am surprised that they have missed  seeing my tweets among their millions of users, they seem to have grasped part of the problem with me and Twitter.  I just don't "get" it.

I must not be alone in this, though, because I was just reading an article that said 60 percent of people that signed up for Twitter  never used it past trying a tweet or two.  I initially thought I would be great at Twitter as I am somewhat a twit but it didn't take me long to realize that I am not great a keeping within the bounds of 140 characters.  Nor am I particularly great at coming up with hilarious one liners at a moment's notice.  I am failing at Twitter.  I may never actually accomplish a Twoosh  (a perfect 140 character Tweet but remain secure in my belief  that it doesn't make me less of a person.)
I am willing to confess that I am challenged to say what I want to say when given a mandated character count.

A Twoosh is a Tweet that is exactly 140 characters long.

But that brings me back to my class of seniors that want to board the Facebook and Twitter train thinking that it's taking them someplace fun and relevant.   In my heart of hearts, I think that they have far more to teach the techies than the techies have to teach them.

I hold out hope that lengthy conversations where people share thoughts without getting indignant, offended or feel the need to over-talk each other makes a comeback.   Imagine my happy face. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

I Feel Your Pain

Last week I was meeting a friend for breakfast and we got into a conversation about what situations we deem as our idea of hell.  No, we weren't talking about LITERAL hell but we were talking FIGURATIVE hell.  So just to be clear...for purposes of this post, I am not thinking that our afterlife or lack thereof,  is based on my rantings over an egg white and veggie omelet at  the First Watch restaurant.
How we meandered into the HELL conversation was due to the fact that I mentioned that I had gone to the Department of Motor Vehicles earlier in the week.   My breakfast buddy didn't seem to think this was the most fun a person could have on any given day.   As "fun" goes it probably doesn't make most peoples top 10 or even 50 but for me,  it's not the worst way to spend the day.

I have become fairly proficient (if I do say so myself) maneuvering most of  the bureaucracy that plagues our everyday existence.  I have to admit that probably the 21 corporate moves has provided me with abundant learning opportunities for dealing with all the obligatory things required to "settle in" into any state, county, municipality,  or city. I have on numerous occasions walked through the maze of required paperwork required of me to sign in, sign up, pay up, register, join and  generally be accountable to all the parties that seem to need me in their databases.   This is never a short list. appears that maybe in this one current incident my proficiency level dipped a bit.

Remember last month...we were talking about me getting a new vehicle.  Now I know that most of us probably don't remember the un-fun components that go with buying a car because we are so intoxicated with the "new car smell" and the shiny, pre-dinged doors.  It's only after the fact when you get the papers in the mail that require you to haul ass down to the DMV to pay your various taxes, transfer your plates, and get the title work done.   These are the things that would keep 99 percent of the population from even considering buying a new car if only we remembered how brutal the paperwork part of the car buying process is.  This might be more true for those of us that live in states that pay Personal Property taxes on our vehicles. 

The fault of my being less than efficient on this particular go round of  bureaucracy though,  isn't 100 percent my fault.  Since I last had to go to the DMV it has moved from one building into 2 separate buildings.  It's kind of like those stupid department stores that have a women's store and a men's store...only this time I couldn't easily tell the difference between the two "stores"  so to speak. Without a he or she shoe store to scream out that I am in the wrong store..really who can tell?

As I figured I had a 50/50 shot...I went to the closest Dept. of Motor Vehicles and was told after waiting in line for quite awhile that I was in the wrong building and needed to drive 4 miles on down the road.  They did suggest in a very pleasant helpful tone (NOT) that I should call ahead and get a place in the queue.  As I am a model for  "follow the rules" type of human being, I called only to be told that the queue was full for the day and to call back when it was convenient.  There were no places left in line for me, it appeared.

Anyway...I was not to be deterred.  I figured I had a good book in the car that I was planning on reading during my visit to the DMV when I was still naive enough to think I would have a place in line, so I was prepared to act stupid and do a walk in.  Why not, I say to myself?  Surely not everyone in Johnson County Kansas knows that you have to call in to get your place in line.

So I just high tail it over to the 2nd DMV and walk in.  There before me is a "take a ticket" machine.  I don't know about the rest of the world but I take that as an implied promise that I will get waited on eventually.  Surely they wouldn't give me a ticket if they were never going to call the number. Am I right???

At this point it is around 10 AM and I figure that I can hang out all day if necessary.But...judging from the board I should be out of here by mid-afternoon.  Really, how long can it take to wait on 224 people before its my turn.

At that point in time, I was still feeling pretty optimistic that I was just a mere 4-ish hours from being 100 percent in compliance with all things DMV related on my new car.  In fact, I was rather pleased at how things seemed to be going.  Take that, electronic queue placer!

The thing about me and lines is that I don't mind them at all because I am the kind of person that mysteriously draws people to tell me their life stories.   I am not exaggerating this "talent" of mine in the slightest.  People love to tell me everything about their personal lives.

I no sooner sat down than a man sat next to me asking about how much longer till my number was going to be called.  Of course, upon hearing 4+ hours, he realized he had plenty of time to tell me his entire life story.  He's been married to his high school sweetheart for 26 years, got her pregnant when she was 15, married her when she turned 18, they now have 6 children and 3 grandchildren, he owns several boats, lives on acreage, owns his own construction company.....and on and on.  You get the picture.

I often think the reason that people tell me EVERYTHING isn't so much as I am a great listener (although that is totally true) it's because I am a super great commiserater. (which may or may not be a real word...but stick with the idea here)  I can empathize, console, support, "feel your pain" and short of me being able to absolve you from any wrong doing, I am here for you.

If you really need to unburden yourself from all your bad life choices and rejoice in all the things you have done right...I am your person.  Whether you choose to do this at the DMV, that's up to you but I am available there occasionally for considerable time periods.

OH and BTW...I got waited on at 4:35.  Done and done.  Some of the  time persistence is the clear  winner.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Moving Forward

I was driving to the gym the other morning and heard the last part of a radio talk show that was discussing a recent study about the differences between men and women drivers.  Unfortunately, I missed the beginning of the program where someone might have told me who, in particular, conducted this study.  As many of my longer-term readers have concluded,  I have become a tad (or profusely, you be the judge) cynical over the years and have come to the opinion that studies are rarely believable. I think my mistrust of various polls, surveys, and studies took a real hit when the Gallop Poll people got routinely replaced by  Survey Monkeys.  I just really have a hard time believing statistics brought about by something (at least in my mind) as being conducted by pollster monkeys as being all that accurate. 

Anyway...this study supposedly said that women were generally safer drivers than men.  That isn't exactly news as  most studies say that.  It's just  most MEN  don't say that. Statistically, men get more tickets and cause more accidents than the stereotypical "bad" women driver. Hey, guys...I'm just the messenger here.  Take it up with the researchers. (NOTE: There are a few polls that say women drivers are far worse but the ones that determine insurance rates beg to differ.)

But, I digress...the study the radio host was talking about did point out a couple of interesting facts.
That while men are more aggressive drivers and take more chances resulting in them not faring optimally in terms of tickets and crashes they do better in other categories In particular  the study says that men are more PROFICIENT drivers when it comes to actually maneuvering a vehicle. 

In this study it showed that women are very poor parallel parkers.  Turns out that male drivers (allegedly) have  better spacial perception than women do.  Actually, I don't know about other women in general but this SO applies to me.

I don't know where it all went wrong...there was a time that I could parallel park a car in uncannily small spaces. My first car was a Chevrolet Nova and I could park that car with just inches of dead space in front and behind other cars and do it quicker than the person behind me had time to mouth any disparaging "women driver" comments.  Sadly, those days are long gone.  

I don't really know what happened.  Perhaps the infrequency of having to parallel park caused me to lose my mojo or maybe the fact I have been driving SUVs for a number of years and no longer have any notion of where my back end is. The fact is, I consider myself a pretty respectable driver as long as my transmission  is in D. The R is a little more problematic for me. 

Which in a round about way is where I am driving to.... topic wise.  I decided I needed a vehicle with a rear-view camera in it. 

A few weeks ago, I went in to get an oil change.  For most families this is a routine task that rolls around every 3000-6000 miles or so depending on your vehicle, I guess. On our vehicles it's 3000.  The maker of our cars is one that provides free oil changes and routine maintenance for 10 years so I am pretty diligent to go in and take advantage of their generosity.   

In my case, however,  I have now on four occasions over a number of years taken my car  in for it's maintenance and came home driving a new car.  Don't get me wrong, I don't trade cars all that often but when I do it seems to always be when I am sitting in the customer service lounge  at our car's dealership,  while my car is getting it's multi-point lube and tire rotation.  

Last week, while my now ex-car was in spending part of it's afternoon on a hoist getting whatever it needed I was drooling over the new model of my SUV and was thinking that the back up camera was nearly worth the price of the car.  As you might imagine, the salesman who knows me by my first name (and at this point, probably the birth dates of my children) came over with visions of a commission check floating in his head, said something to the effect of there being "incentives" to buy NOW.  

Clearly, I am a salesperson in my own right so I am immune to most of the sales jargon but that computer screen in the dash and alloy wheels were throwing me off my game.  

After a little of the salesman doing the dance and me doing the counter-dance, I drove the car home to show it to hubby.  

Have I mentioned lately that NOTHING I do surprises or for that matter, upsets hubby.  The man has ice water running through his veins in term of remaining cool and calm.   Totally unphased by my antics.  BUT he does have reasons to be on his toes when it comes to me bringing vehicles home.  

Prior to this most recent purchase, the last SUV that I bought while getting an oil change was a "present" for him.  Hubby was out of town and I was sitting waiting on my car to come down off the lift when an "older" women brought back her SUV claiming it was just too big and she wanted something smaller.  She had put 88 miles on it but now the dealership was going to have call it a "pre-owned"  car.  I smelled a deal.   Like a shark smelling chum, I asked the sales guy how much would come off the list price  

Now you all know that the first words out of any car salesman's mouth is the classic "I have to go talk to the manager."  Total crap...he knows what his margin of profit has to be and how desperate he is to meet his quota that day but I'll dance the dance.  So while he is probably  in the back room talking about how the Royals are doing, I am calling husband asking what he thinks the lowest possible number would be to get a super sweet deal. on a current year SUV with 88 miles on it.   Between us we came up with the most insulting offer two people could possibly devise. 

Salesman comes back with "the manager's best-he-can-do" offer...which isn't nearly the best I am willing to do, so I shoot the sales guy the really horrible "are you kidding me?" offer that hubby and I came up with.  His eyes rolled back into the sockets of his head, so I was pretty sure that one wasn't going to happen.   Well...after numerous trips back to talk to his manager along with  various accusations that I was probably going to cost him his job....I did buy the car.  
  Here's the problem though!  It was a really rainy, cloudy day in Kansas that day.  AND I swear to you that that SUV was a SILVER color.  BUT when I got it home it had a tinge ...OK, OK maybe a bit more than a tinge, of blue to it.  Now that isn't the worst thing in the world, I suspect .....but I had told my out-of-town hubby over the phone that his new vehicle was mention of blue.  I knew that he was going to be less than enthusiastic about a light-ish blue-ish silver kind of SUV. As it turned out he was totally unphased.  It could be that he drove it mostly on cloudy days but I can't say for certain. Luckily for him, we have long cloudy winters here.

Back to the current situation.  After coming home with the  "might be ours" car which was also a silvery kind of color, I probably shouldn't of been surprised that  hubby wasn't overly excited. I am thinking he was beyond taking another chance that the sun would come out and we would have another light blue car.  So we both went back and picked out a color called White Pearl with a lovely back up camera built into a lovely little computer screen so that in the future I might know where my back end is.  That is a wonderful thing.

To be continued ....HELL at the DMV