BWI: Blogging While Irritated

My brain is sputtering.

So, I’m in a foul mood. I’ve been ensnarled in an idiotic bureaucratic bit of insanity, and the only one who will suffer is yours truly. To say that I’m irritated is putting it mildly.

I’d get it if it made sense. I’d roll with it if the hoops I’m being forced to jump through were mandatory. But no. I’m being put through my paces simply to avoid inconveniencing everyone except me.

And the worst part about it? My brain is sputtering. I can’t think of a single thing to blog about.

I’d really rather not turn into one of those bloggers who does nothing but rage against the machine. Okay, yeah. I do that every now and then. But I don’t want to only be known as the voice for the malcontents. I don’t want to simply rant so that no one else has to.

I want to be both light and dark, happy and sad. I want to be nuanced. I want to be layered, like an onion, only without bringing tears to the eyes of everyone who comes in contact with me.

So I’ll simply say that today I’m annoyed, and here’s a picture of a kitten. See? I can be nuanced, gosh darn it.


Like this quirky little blog? Then You’ll love my book!



I was just reading a book about clutter reduction which actually had some extremely helpful advice. But then the author advocated a certain way of folding one’s clothes because she says that when clothes are in a drawer, they are resting, and it’s impossible to rest if you’re all wadded up. Also, if you don’t show your clothes that you respect them, it hurts their feelings.

Oh, please. I refuse to live my life in fear of offending inanimate objects. It’s not going to happen.

Practicality and pragmatism are my watchwords.

While I consider myself a spiritual person, and I’ve seen many things that can’t easily be explained, I genuinely believe that I need to take care of myself, first and foremost, rather than expecting some higher power to step in on my behalf.

Even though I do seem to have a lot of friends whose birthdays fall within range of certain astrological signs and not others, and I enjoy reading the horoscopes on occasion, I refuse to believe that every person on the planet needs to rigidly adhere to one of twelve possible predictions every day. Humans are way too complex to be pigeonholed like that.

My dogs are my best friends, but they’re still dogs. I once told a dog sitter the times they are accustomed to being fed, and she became very concerned because she couldn’t guarantee that she’d be able to make the 3 pm feeding. She thought I’d be upset if she fed them at 5 instead. But I said, “They’re dogs. They’ll have to get over it, won’t they?”

Speaking of dogs, a friend of mine has to go way out of his way to obtain a rare brand of dog food, as it is the only thing his poodle will eat. Oh, really? I bet that dog’s stubborn resolve would only last a day or two. You’ll eat what I give you, Pookie.

I have another friend who irons her underwear. Why is this important in life? Why?

And don’t even get me started about bureaucracies. The stupidity that abounds in them is enough to make me want to pull my hair out by the roots. “Because that’s how it has always been done” is not a valid response to my inquiries.

I enjoy flights of fancy as much as the next person, but I only allow things to influence the way I live my life if they make sense. So my undies will just have to suffer from wounded egos and remain wadded up in my drawer. Life’s just too freakin’ short.


Portable gratitude. Inspiring pictures. Claim your copy of my first collection of favorite posts!

The Need to Scream

Since being included in the book Callings, I now sort of feel as though I’m being looked upon as the poster child for job satisfaction. And 99 percent of the time, it’s true, I am completely in love with what I do. That just makes the 1 percent rankle all the more. And today is shaping up to be one of those 1 percent days.

Even though I spend most of my time in blessed isolation, I am greatly affected by the bureaucracy of which I’m a part. And bureaucracies, by their very nature, tend to be idiotic at best. Decisions get made that have absolutely no relationship to reality or reason. People get more invested in covering their own behinds than doing what is morally or ethically right. Inconsequential things get blown up out of proportion. And everything moves at such a snail’s pace that you want to pull your hair out by the roots.

Frustration is not my favorite feeling. Days like this I want to live in a cave deep in the woods. (As long as I could have electricity, wifi, pizza delivery and a comfortable mattress.)

For many years I’ve wanted to invent a soundproof bag that one could scream into. I think I’d make a fortune. You could even use it in your little corporate cubicle. I think it would be quite cleansing to use one after your average staff meeting. (Better than a barf bag, at least.)

The best thing about my job is I’m rarely subjected to meetings. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to scream on occasion. But now, since I’m supposed to love my job every moment of the day, there’s added pressure not to scream. And that makes me want to scream.

I have a newfound respect for public figures. We hold them to impossibly high standards. Everybody has a bad day now and then. It’s part of being human. It’s cruel to expect someone to meet your expectations every waking moment.

Don’t worry. I’ll snap out of it. Days like today, I just do some of my more sweaty, strenuous maintenance tasks. That helps me purge my negativity.

The Scream

Incompetence, Thy Name is AT&T

You know, you’d think I’d have learned after writing How to Give Horrible Customer Service, but no. In an area of 1 million people (Jacksonville, Florida) the administration in its infinite wisdom has chosen to only allow two major competitors for our unlimited internet market: AT&T and Comcast.

Comcast service is slow as molasses during peak hours, drops you off line constantly, and while it gives a great introductory rate at first, that price basically triples after the first year. AT&T, on the other hand, “only” doubles its price after the first year. How generous. But for that privilege you have to put up with the worst customer service in the history of mankind. Gee, who to choose?

So despite my horrendous experiences with AT&T in the past, I held my nose and dove back into the vast ocean of ineptitude that is their indifferent and smug bureaucracy. Come with me, dear reader, and hold my hand as I am tossed about on their stormy sea of stupidity. I need you, because when all was said and done, I was forced to dwell on a desert island of internetlessness for seven, count ‘em, seven days. Without you, I’d be forced to talk to a soccer ball like Tom Hanks in Cast Away.

Monday, June 30th, 2014

1:20 pm: I receive the following text message: “AT&T Free Msg: U-verse internet active after 8pm 07-01. See self install guide.”

8 pm? When I ordered this service I told them that I’d no longer have access to internet as of midnight today at my old address, so I was hoping to have it with them on 7/1 so I could stay connected. Now I’ll have to go a whole day without internet? Sigh. Okay, whatever. It’s only a day. Let’s take a look at the self install guide. They say it’s really easy. All you need is a phone jack. It doesn’t even need to be active.

I’m standing in the middle of my new rental place, up to my ears in unpacked boxes and chaos, and it occurs to me… hold on… I haven’t seen a phone jack anywhere. I wander from room to room, my heart sinking. Nope. No phone jack. I go outside. No phone box. And no lines leading to the house from the telephone pole. Seriously? I’ve chosen the one house in the free world with no telephone access?

I call AT&T and tell them I can’t do the self install after  all. There are no phone lines whatsoever. They say they’ll send a tech out. Their earliest appointment is the morning of July 2nd. I grit my teeth and say, “Fine, I’ll take it.”

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

10:43 am: After being up all night because I work graveyard shifts, I am woken up by the following text message: “AT&T U-verse Free Confirmation: Repair scheduled for 07-02 between 8am-Noon.” It then urges me to visit their website for status changes. If I had the ability to visit their website, I wouldn’t be in this fix. And I already knew that the tech was coming tomorrow. They told me that on the phone. So they knew I knew, too. Whatever. Communication is good, I suppose.

I can’t imagine how I would have gone through this week if I had regular working hours. Because as you will see, it took no fewer than FIVE visits before they actually got their act together and provided me with the service that they had absolutely no problem taking my money for. If I had had to stay home from work each time, I’d have been in deep trouble.

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

9 am the tech arrives, under the mistaken impression that this is going to be a simple phone jack install. I disabuse him of that notion. He confirms what I’ve been saying all along to everyone, that there is no phone line leading to this house at all, and this is to be a complete install. He talks about placing a cable underground from the pole. I like this idea. No sense in having ugly wires going willy-nilly in your yard if not necessary. I go inside and let him get to work.

45 minutes later I peek out and he’s standing next to his truck, talking on his cell phone. I go out and ask how things are going. He tells me there is a slight problem. There is no signal coming to the telephone pole, so even if he installed everything, it wouldn’t work. So before he can get started, he needs to call an INR tech (whatever that is) to come out and sort out the signal. So he’s closing out his repair ticket, ordering one for the INR tech, and once that guy is done he will come right back out and finish what he, uh… never really started. Not to worry, though, once that line is sorted out, it will only take him about 20 minutes to do his part, and I’ll have internet in no time.

1 pm, the INR tech arrives. Much fiddle farting around and doing things that look complicated. I leave him to his work. At around 2:30, I see he’s on his cell phone. Sigh. I go out for a status update, and he tells me he’s almost done here, and then the other guy can come back. I ask him to knock on my door before he leaves and give me an estimated time of arrival. He says he’ll do so.

3:15 pm I look out and the guy is gone. Oh well, I figure the other guy is on his way. But he’s not there by 6 pm, and I resign myself to the fact that he must be coming in the morning. I try to get some sleep but I’m so irritated, I get 4 hours of sleep before working all night.

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

I get home from work about 8:20 am, and there’s no AT&T truck out front. Great. Just great. Well, it’s not like these guys are the souls of efficiency. I figure I’ll give them an hour.

9:10 am: I receive the following text message: “AT&T Free Msg: Sorry we were unable to complete your U-verse repair. Still trouble? Please visit or call 888-485-3310.”

Still trouble? What the hell do you think? I have no phone line! So I call them. I explain everything that has transpired to date. They say they will send someone out. But the next available appointment is tomorrow. Are you kidding me? The guy told me he’d be right back! Sorry, ma’am. That’s the next available appointment. Apparently the INR tech didn’t submit a ticket for the first guy, and the first guy just dropped me like a hot rock.

Fine. I hang up and sleep the fitful sleep of the supremely irritated. Then at 10:39 am, I’m awoken by the following text message: “AT&T Free Msg: Your U-verse repair appt time has changed. Your tech will arrive 07/04 btwn 8 am- Noon.” Again with the visiting of the website for status changes.

Changed? What was it before? For crying out loud. Well, at least I’ll have internet tomorrow. And the office person swears to me that they do work tomorrow, even though it’s a holiday.

Friday, July 4th, 2014

The guy arrives relatively promptly and asks to come in and check it out. I tell them there’s nothing to see. There’s no phone jack, no phone line to the house. Nothing. He is stunned. He seems to be under the impression that he was just coming out to help an idiot customer do her simple self install.

He tells me that he’ll have to do a full install (I know) and that there will, of course, be a fee (We’ll just see about that), but no, he will be doing an above ground cable, not a buried one (Whatever it takes).

But this time I don’t go about my business and let him work in private. I’ve learned. So I sit on my front stoop and watch the show. He goes over to the telephone pole. He opens a container and pulls out a mass of tangled cables that looks like an electric tumbleweed from hell. He takes a photograph with his cell phone and makes a call. He’s on the phone for a long, long time.

He comes over to me and tells me that the INR tech yesterday did not fix the signal problem. Well, actually, he may have, but since he didn’t label which of the 5 cables in that mass of 1,500 cables belongs to my house, he has no way of determining which ones to use. So he has scheduled another INR tech to come out to the pole down the block and rewire it entirely. Once that’s done, he’ll come back and set me up.

I say, “You don’t understand. It’s been 4 days. You’re the third person that has reassured me. I still don’t have internet. People probably think I’ve died. I’m afraid that if you leave here, I’m going to be back to square one.” I seriously consider holding the guy hostage.

He tells me not to worry. He says he’s working tomorrow, and that his boss who he was just on the phone with is working tomorrow, too. They will take care of it. He will come back. He leaves. It occurs to me that I can’t even see down the block, so I’ll have no idea when/if the INR tech comes and does his part. And one wonders why I have abandonment issues.

I fall into such a tense and uncomfortable sleep that when I wake up I can no longer raise my left arm without excruciating pain. I work all night like that. Every time I try to move my arm I’m reminded of what a pain this situation has turned out to be

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

I get home at 8:45 am, and again, there is no one out front. I call the phone number and get another indifferent employee. I explain the situation, and she tells me that the INR tech who came out on the second fixed the telephone pole problem, and I explain to her that no, he did not, and they had to send a second one out. She seems quite confused. I tell her in any case, no one has been out here since, it’s been 5 days and 4 techs and yet there is no progress. She says she’ll look into it and call me back.

I want to take a pain pill for my arm, but I’m loathe to do so because I may miss the call. So I toss and turn for 2 hours in considerable discomfort until the phone rings around 10:30 am. She tells me that it appears that the ticket got “lost in the system”. She tells me that she’s place another. She tells me that they work until 8 pm today, and that they also work on Sundays, so someone will be out soon.

5 pm. I call for a status update. Once again I am treated as if this is the first anyone has heard of this situation, and after leaving me on hold for a half hour on my pay by the minute phone, they schedule a technician to come between 4 and 8 pm on Monday. I have to work at that time. My head explodes and I ask to speak to a supervisor. She says that she will have one call me back after hearing me cry tears of utter frustration.

5:50 pm I receive a text. “AT&T U-verse Free Confirmation: Repair scheduled for 07/07 between 4 pm – 8 pm.”

The supervisor never bothers to call back, which tells you all you need to know about AT&T’s utter indifference to customer satisfaction. I am forced to beg my irritated supervisor for Monday off so I can be there when and if someone actually decides to show up and do something.

Monday, July 7, 2014

A brand new tech arrives at 4pm. He has to be brought up to speed, because God knows his company didn’t tell him what was going on. I feel subdued, apathetic and devoid of even an ounce of fight, which is probably just how AT&T wants its customers.  But the good news is that this guy, bless him, was able to complete the job, and it only took 2 ½ hours. If I had had the strength to pucker, I’d have kissed him.

So to recap, 7 days with an average of 4 hours of sleep, 1 missed day of work, 5 techs (3 of whom looked me straight in the eye and made promises they had absolutely no intention of keeping), and several rude phone calls later, I’m finally back on line. And I get to pay them an installation fee for the hell they just put me through. They ought to be paying me.

Matter of fact, once I’ve regained my strength, I may try to fight that bill. Yeah. What’s the worst that could happen?


[Image credit:]

The Dead Letter Office

How’s this for bureaucracy? Yesterday my late boyfriend received a letter from an agency informing him that his case was closed because he was deceased. I’ll just let you absorb that for a second.

When I opened the letter my first thought was, “I wonder if they’re expecting a response.” So what follows is the reply in question.

To Whom it May Concern:

Thank you for your letter of April 29th, informing me that I am deceased. I must compliment you on your effort to contact me. That shows a distinct level of spiritual initiative that I’ve found sorely lacking in the average bureaucrat in the past. Attempting to pierce the veil between your world and mine is not for sissies.

It is pure dumb luck that your letter happened to find me at home and in the mood to respond. Here lately I’ve been traveling quite a bit and finding it extremely difficult to concentrate on the petty drama of humanity. I seem to have much bigger fish to fry, as it were. It’s amazing how death can expand your worldview. You should try it.

While I must admit that letters from your office have been a source of irritation for me in the past, given my current circumstances I can only work myself up to a level of wry amusement. I noticed you did not require documentation of my change in circumstances for once, and I greatly appreciate that. Compliance was never my strong suit as you well know, and it beggars the imagination how you would penalize my lack thereof at this particular point.

You have definitely provided me with service above and beyond the call of duty. Without your missive I might well have wandered around for all eternity wondering why no one was answering me when I attempted to talk to them. For example, I’ve been trying to complain to my girlfriend that she keeps losing the garlic press. How’s a body supposed to make scampi? I ask you! But now that I know why she’s ignoring my rants I can go into the light.

Wishing you increased logic and independent thought, and a big old shout out from the heavenly host,

Charles Guerra


[Image credit: Akeel Ahmed at]

Insanity from Above

I once worked in middle management in a bureaucracy. I wrote a memo to inform people that there was going to be a huge increase in something or other. The next morning my memo was sitting on my desk. Written across it in bold red letters was, “Please don’t use the word ‘huge’ in memos. It’s unprofessional.” That was from the big boss. Seriously? It that the best you can do? Was that battle important enough to “grade” me like I was in elementary school? I posted it on the wall beside my computer so I wouldn’t forget that “huge” was on the no fly list. Everyone who saw it thought the big boss was an idiot. And frankly, she was.

Micromanagement is the most common supervisory error you see in the workplace. If you can’t trust your employees to do their jobs, why are they in your employ? If you make it clear that you have a total lack of confidence in your subordinates’ ability to think independently and solve problems, you will demoralize them, and stunt any innovation that could potentially benefit your business.

Micromanagers also seem to overlook the fact that if their employees look good, then they will look good. Rather than spend all your time frantically attempting to snuff out the light of their positive development, allow them to shine and you will benefit from that glow. It might be scary, but you’ll find that when you don’t grip the steering wheel with white knuckles, you’ll still arrive at your destination and it will be a much more pleasant ride for all concerned.

And that’s my huge piece of advice for the day.


(Image credit

Why I Fail to Thrive in a Bureaucracy

I have never been one to suffer fools gladly. I suppose that actually sums it up. I could stop this blog entry right here. And it’s not the first time I’ve addressed this subject. See also my entry entitled How to Give HORRIBLE Customer Service. So I don’t suppose I really need to go there again. And yet, here I am. It’s only fair, though, because there are days when you just can’t avoid bureaucracies no matter how desperately you try.

Like the time I was applying for college and they asked me to provide my transcripts from Surrey Community College. I called them and said I never went to Surrey Community College. In fact, I’d never even HEARD of Surrey Community College. And they then told me that I would have to get a letter from them proving that I’d never been there. Thank heavens they cooperated, because they could have very easily laughed at me. So somewhere in some folder at Indian River State College is a letter that says that I, in fact, have never attended Surrey. It made me want to transfer to Surrey, frankly. Stupidity like that makes me want to tear my hair (or someone else’s) out by the roots.

Believe it or not, I once was a bureaucrat. I was an eligibility specialist for the State of Florida’s Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Over the years I saw, time and time again, someone come up with a form to make our lives easier, and in no time it would turn into a MANDATORY form that made our lives much, much harder. I can’t remember the number of times I’ve had to say, “I know it’s stupid that you have to have this form filled out before you can get benefits. I know this form has absolutely nothing to do with your situation. But you have to have this form filled out before you can get benefits.” The inmates truly run the asylums. I only lasted 4 years in that job, and it nearly sucked the life out of me. The best thing I’ve ever done was quit.

When you do not allow your employees to exercise any form of independent judgment or common sense, you create the world’s most illogical monster. Anyone who deals with AT&T or the federal government knows this. And the people who are willing to stand up and point out that policies are idiotic, or, essentially, that the emperor wears no clothes, are the very people who are labeled as troublemakers and are generally hounded out of the organization. It’s a shame, because those are clearly the very employees who care, and therefore the ones that are most needed.



I guess I’m ranting because today I had to get up 4 hours early to drive 15 miles across town and take an annual test to prove that I am a competent bridgetender. Never mind the fact that I’ve been on the job for 12 years, and if I didn’t know what I was doing by now, there would be a lot of boat wreckage at the bottom of the river. Never mind the fact that a lot of the questions on the test had nothing to do with my ability to competently perform my duties, and yet if I get less than 90 percent right, I could lose my job. Never mind the fact that this is the only district in the entire state of Florida that requires that bridgetenders take such a test. So why am I having to take this test? Two reasons. Because it’s mentioned vaguely in our contract, and because the Florida Department of Transportation Drawbridge Supervisor guy has “Give bridgetenders a test every year in February” on his evaluation form, and if he doesn’t meet all the criteria on his evaluation, he loses his chance of getting a raise. (And yet we only get raises once every 6 years, of less than 10 percent.) So that’s why I woke up 4 hours early today.

I’m trying not to scream.