A Brief Pause for Helplessness

I just found out that a dear friend in Canada is in the hospital for at least a week. He’s all alone, in his 70’s. And I can’t cross the Canadian border without quarantining myself for two weeks. It’s frustrating beyond belief.

I’m feeling fidgety. I’m having trouble concentrating. I’m having trouble blogging. I’m having trouble.

I know what this is, though. It’s helplessness. I don’t do well with helplessness.

If I’m trapped in a corner with nowhere to go, it freaks me out. If I’m feeling bullied, and I can’t think of a way to resolve it without damaging important relationships, I struggle with that, too. I wouldn’t do well in prison. But the worst feeling of all is when someone needs help and I can’t give it to them. Not good. Not good.

But there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. So I’m going to allow myself a periodic brief pause to feel the helplessness, and then I’m going to do my best to set it aside and do what I can do. Because if I sit in this space for too long, I’m going to lose my ever-loving mind.

So, yeah. Just trying to get through the day, here. Hope all’s well with you, dear reader.

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BWI: Blogging While Irritated

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.

Kitten

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Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

As a bridgetender, I get to spend a great deal of time contemplating patience or the lack thereof. It continually astounds me how irritated people become when they’re held up by an opening bridge. The average opening is 4 ½ minutes long, and most commuters are well aware that a drawbridge is on their route, and therefore the possibility of a delay exists, and yet I still have the pleasure of watching their heads explode from sheer frustration several times a day. They curse. They shout. They throw things. They pound their steering wheels and beep their horns. And my drawbridge carries on.

Do snails ever get impatient? Are they resigned to their fate, or do they think they’re moving along at breakneck speed? I wish they could talk. I’d love to learn more about their attitudes about life.

Recently I came home to find a gorgeously striped one sitting on my doorstep. I’m a live and let live kind of person, so I bid him good day and gently stepped past him to get inside. I figured he’d move along eventually, and he did. I know some gardeners take a dim view of snails, but I think they have just as much right to eat as I do.

I’ve always been attracted to the unorthodox, or maybe it’s that I’m easily entertained, but when I found out that there’s a World Snail Racing Championship every July in Congham, England, I thought, “Okay, that goes on my bucket list, for sure.” It sounds like great fun.

As this race, the participating snails are arrayed along the inner circle of a wet cloth, and the first snail to touch the outer circle, about 13 inches away, is declared the winner. My goodness, that must be exciting to watch. The delayed gratification would have me biting my nails down to the quick.

One assumes that no snails are harmed during the course of this event, and that doping is not tolerated by the judges. But you never know. Scandals have been known to crop up in the most unusual places.

Another plus side to this event is it makes an excellent fundraiser. I’m kind of surprised that other communities haven’t adopted this sport. Snails come with their own safety equipment, so start up costs would be minimal.

Maybe you’ll see me at the races someday. My snail will have lightning bolts painted on his shell with orange nail polish, and he’ll answer to the name Scamper. That seems like a recipe for success to me.

Slow Down

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Falling Down the Customer Service Rabbit Hole

What follows are the highlights of an online conversation I had with Tracfone Wireless. For reference, “You” is me, and anything italicized is my inner dialogue. (Because I’d never be quite so rude as to say these things out loud.) Items in bold are a synopsis of things I left out so as not to torture you as much as I was being tortured. Some information has been changed to protect my privacy.

This conversation took well over an hour, and at the end it’s a pure miracle I had any hair left in my head at all, such was my level of frustration.

Chat Transcript

  : Thank you for visiting Tracfone today. How may I help you?

Wendy : Thank you for visiting TracFone Wireless.

Redundant, but okay…

 

Wendy : Hi Barbara. How may I assist you?

You : Hi Wendy. I have been trying to port my phone number from Tracfone to Verizon for two weeks. They said it should only take two days. Can you tell me what the hold up is?

Wendy : I’m sorry to hear that. Please allow me a moment to look into this.

You : Thank you.

Wendy : You are welcome.

Wendy : I did not find any record about a port out request. Have you contacted the new service provider to investigate the status of your request?

You : Yes. They claim they’ve placed the request twice.

Wendy : I will need to contact our Portability department for assistance. One moment, please.

Wendy : We will have to transfer you to a portability specialist to further assist you with your port request.

Ram : Thank you for choosing TracFone Wireless as your service provider.

Ram : Thank you for visiting TracFone Wireless.

Again, redundant. But again, okay.

 

Ram : Hi Barbara. Allow me a moment to review your previous chat conversation.

You : Hi Ram. Thank you.

Ram : You’re welcome. One moment, please.

Ram : Are we working on the phone number that ends with 1234.

You : yes

Ram : Alright. Do you have the phone with you?

You : I have both the 1234 phone and the one I want to port it to. Both are with me.

Ram : Okay. Phone is already active.

You : Yes. They gave me a temporary number.

Ram : What is the last four number of the IMEI of the new phone?

You : xxxx

Ram : Thank you. What is your security PIN?

You : yyyy

Ram : That is not what we have here.

You : zzzz maybe? You are talking about for my Verizon phone?

Ram : No. Your security PIN from us.

You : wwww?

Ram : Yes.

You : 🙂

Ram : We don’t have records on the new IMEI number.

You : Do you have a record of any portability request?

Ram : Yes.

(You’ll see below that that’s in direct contradiction to what he’ll say later.)

You : Hmmm. Are the last 4 digits aaaa?

Ram : No.

You : When you asked for my IMEI number originally, were you asking for my TRACFONE IMEI, or the one it should be ported to?

You : My current tracfone IMEI is xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

You : I want it ported to qqqqqqqqqqqq.

Ram : Yes.

Ram : I have that.

You : The Main phone on the verizon account ends in tttt, but we do NOT want my number ported to that phone. He wants to keep his number.

Ram : The new phone is this a tracfone as well.

You : The new phone is not a tracfone. Tracfones are incompatible with Verizon, apparently, so I had to buy a new one.

Ram : I see.

Ram : Let me check this one.

Ram : Do you still have this old phone?

I already told you that.

 

You : yes

Ram : The one that ends with 4321? Where did you get the new phone?

You : From Verizon.  And yes, I do have the one ending in 4321 still.

You : I’d like to NOT have it anymore… but I’m waiting for you guys to port.

Ram : Yes.

Ram : That is the reason I was not able to access the new phone.

You : Ah. So what do I have to do?

Ram : Are you leaving us?

WHAT DO YOU THINK I’VE BEEN SAYING THIS ENTIRE FREAKIN’ TIME????

 

You : Yes

Ram : You are porting out from us.

IS THAT NOT WHAT PORTING OUT MEANS?

 

You : Yes.

Ram : If that is the case you need to call your new provider what you want.

You : They made their first request to you TWO WEEKS AGO. They repeated their request a week ago.

Ram : We did not received them.

You : I am not sure what the problem is. I just want my phone number ported from my Tracfone to my Verizon phone. I can’t believe how hard this is. Is there any number they can call directly and speak to a human being at Tracfone? Because otherwise they’ll just repeat their fruitless request a third time.

Ram : I am telling you, we did not received a request.

Ram : If that is the case, then yes.

Huh?

 

You : So tell me a way they can call directly to someone who can fix this. Please.

Ram : All they need to do is send a port out request.

You : And they have told me they have, twice.  So I don’t know where the disconnect is. But if their human could talk to your human, maybe it could be resolved.

Ram : I apologize for any inconvenience you have experienced due to this issue.

You : I know this is not your fault, Ram. I’m not blaming you. But please understand my frustration. Two weeks. Two different stories.  And no one talking to anyone directly.

Ram : I don’t see any request from your old provider.

We’ve established that.

 

Ram : We are working on the phone number that ends with 1234?

For God’s SAKE!!!!!

 

You : Yes. That’s my old tracfone number. And they would be my NEW provider, not my old one. But if their requests are going to the wrong place, I need a direct number they can call.

You : My verizon temporary number is xxx-xxx-xxxx. That’s the phone I want my 1234 number ported to.

Ram : We can’t open your that temporary number, that is not with us.

I know that.

 

Ram : Just informed them that I mentioned that we did not received a request.

Ram : Not once.

You : Who did you inform?

Ram : You.

Gaaaaaaaaaaah!

 

You : Yes, you did. What I am saying is that on THEIR end, THEY think they’ve put in the request twice. Apparently it’s not getting to you. Therefore THEY need a direct phone number to call at Tracfone, so that THEY can call YOU GUYS and get this straightened out. Because clearly they are sending their requests to the wrong place.

Ram : Okay. This is our portability hotline number 18003272077.

Was that so freakin’ hard?

 

You : Thank you Ram.

Ram : You’re welcome.

Ram : Is there anything else that I can assist you with?

You : That’s quite enough. Thanks.

Ram : You’re welcome.

Ram : Thank you for chatting with TracFone Wireless.

Give me strength.

 

After that, I spoke again with Verizon.

Then I had a pint of ice cream in one sitting.

The situation wasn’t resolved for another three days, and required 3 more phone conversations.

Frustration

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Things That Make Me Lose My Composure

Someone told me the other day that I’m very composed. It took me by surprise, but I suppose it’s true. I don’t enjoy drama. I haven’t thrown a tantrum in, oh, at least a week or two. (Joke.)

I think the reason I’ve never thought of myself as the poster child for composure is that I know what’s going on on the inside of me. That is a bit more chaotic than the outside stuff. If all that turmoil were on the surface, I think people would assume I was crazed.

For instance, I’ve been perpetually freaked out ever since Donald Trump took office. I’m surprised I haven’t developed ulcers from the sheer frustration I’m experiencing as I watch him systematically destroy everything he touches.

I also tend to lose my cool at this time of year at work on my drawbridge. The sailboats are out in force, and for whatever reason, most owners don’t seem to take the time to know what the hell they’re doing with those very expensive toys.

And don’t even get me started about pedestrians. I haven’t crushed anyone yet, mind you, but they sure make it a distinct possibility. And I’d kind of like to keep my job.

The one thing that brings me closest to violence is witnessing the abuse of children or animals. If you can’t pick on somebody your own size, I’m sorely tempted to give you someone your size to pick on. But you wouldn’t like it.

I also can’t abide selfishness or greed. Be as self-destructive as you want. It’s your life. But when your actions negatively impact others, I take issue with that. And for Pete’s sake, take responsibility for your actions. Grow the %@$& up.

I find liars despicable, and people who are hellbent on believing those lies to their own benefit are even worse. If you can’t reach your destination without taking one of those two crooked paths, then you might want to reexamine your destination. It most likely will not turn out to be the paradise you envisioned.

So, am I composed? The jury is still out on that one. But I find that chocolate helps.

balance and composure

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Who Gave Me This Gift?

Here lately, I’ve been having quite a few frustration dreams. You know the kind. I’m lost and no matter how hard I try, I can’t find my way out. Or I keep cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, but the place is still a mess. Or I’m running in slow motion. Or I’m trying to say something really important, but no one is listening.

Just the other day, I was thinking about these dreams as I fell asleep. I was trying to figure out the source of my frustration. I was feeling… well… frustrated that I couldn’t reach any conclusions. And those thoughts, as I drifted off, triggered an even stranger dream.

In this one, I had been given the gift of a tank top. I do like tank tops, but it’s the dead of winter, so I was a little befuddled by this. I decided to try on the tank top anyway. It fit well, but I felt some strange lumps in the shoulder straps. I reached up and pulled out a wrench. And then a screw driver. And then a hammer. And then a saw… and so on. It was like the hardware equivalent of a clown car.

And then a voice said, “You have all the tools you need.”

That woke me up out of a sound sleep. Because… who was that?

The current thinking in terms of dream interpretation is that every actor in your dream is a manifestation of yourself. But that wasn’t me. I know it in the very marrow of my bones. My Id is not that confident. My Superego couldn’t be bothered. It wasn’t any part of me. Who, then?

A friend of mine theorizes that it was God. Her spiritual beliefs and mine aren’t very similar. I don’t anthropomorphize my higher power. And even if I did, in the Trump era, it’s safe to assume he or she has much bigger fish to fry.

Could it have been my mother, speaking to me from beyond the grave? Or my late boyfriend? My father? My sister?

I don’t know. I just know it wasn’t me. It was a good message, though. If it had been a sinister message I’d be worried. But it was a positive message. “You have all the tools you need.” The minute it was said, I believed it. So I’ll just focus on that.

Sometimes you just need to take the gifts that are given to you, and say thank you.

Voice of God

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The Dark Shadow Cast by the Golden Rule

Most societies seem to have some version of the Golden Rule. That only makes sense. It would be hard to live amongst one’s fellow humans without one. I really do try to do unto others as I would have them do unto me. I can’t imagine functioning any other way.

The thing I struggle with is my huge disappointment/bitterness/frustration when others do not do likewise. “Oy! I’m playin’ by the rules here! Why aren’t you?”

Just the other day I got royally screwed over by 5 people. Without going into detail, we’ve all had long conversations and they agreed with my interpretation of events. But when this brought on an investigation, rather than tell the truth and have my back, these people chose to pull their pinheads into their tiny, soft, little shells and leave me out there all alone to be crushed by the bus.  I feel so betrayed. I could never do that to someone. Not in a million years.

Be that as it may, the situation isn’t going to right itself, so now the only thing I can do is cope with my feelings of disappointment/bitterness/frustration. On close examination, I realize that I wouldn’t even have those feelings if I didn’t think that these people were not holding themselves to a standard that I swear by.

So maybe I should blame the Golden Rule for all of this. Maybe I should stop expecting others to follow it. Heck, maybe I should stop following it myself, since it does not seem to have done me any favors.

But the day I can’t even count on my own integrity is the day I give up entirely.

crushed turtle

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Self-Abuse

True confessions: When I’m angry, frustrated, upset, or feeling helpless, I either eat or spend money or both. I don’t need to be hungry or in need of something. I just do it. I know this about myself. I know it even as it’s happening. But I can’t seem to stop. (What a First World problem to have, right?)

After a recent, really, really bad day, I ordered three Japanese Maple trees (one yellow, one orange, and one red) and one Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar for my new yard. To the tune of $250. I have the money, but I really ought to spend it on something that’s a higher priority right now. This was not the wisest budgeting decision.

Yes, I’ve always wanted these trees. They’ll look great. They’ll result in less mowing and more privacy. But I only ordered them because I was pissed off.

It’s really rather interesting that when I’m angry or upset with someone or something else, it’s me whom I punish. I either spackle the fat directly to my hips or fire a cannon ball directly at my finances. Better to do that, I reason, than lash out at someone else or actually be assertive for a change.

This is not healthy. And in the end, it really doesn’t make me feel any better. I berate myself. I lecture myself. I take myself on an epic guilt trip. And I pay. Oh, do I pay, in so many ways. And yet, I’ll do it again, no doubt.

Don’t get me wrong. Most of my shenanigans aren’t at the $250 level. I actually have stellar credit. Usually It’s more like a late night drive to Wendy’s for about 1800 calories worth of junk food and the accompanying regret. But it’s still self-destructive.

It could be worse. I kind of understand people who cut themselves. I just don’t like pain. Or blood. Or awkward explanations. So I cover myself in a layer of fat and financial stress instead.

Even so, I really am looking forward to planting those trees…

Cedrus_libani_ssp._atlantica_'Glauca_Pendula'_02_by_Line1
Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar. Needless to say, mine will be much smaller.

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Spring is in the Air

I’ve been feeling restless of late. I want to get out and explore. I want to go places and do things. I want to have some fun. I want to go zip lining! I want my life to begin again.

The problem is, the weather is still crap. Sometimes I think if I don’t see the sun soon, I’m going to lose my ever-loving mind. And I don’t really have anyone to do things with. It’s frustrating. I have all this energy that’s not getting expelled. It makes me fidget. I’ve recently started shaking my leg again, which is a bad habit I had in high school.

What is going on with me? Is this just sexual frustration writ large? A delayed mid-life crisis? Too much caffeine?

And then I look in my front yard and notice that the azaleas and rhododendrons are all in bud. They’re on the verge of bursting forth in riots of color. Any day now. Change.

Spring fever. Now I get it.

Rhododendron

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Bitterness

The other night we had a wind storm. At 3 a.m. it ripped open my screen door. Bang! This, naturally, caused my dog to go ballistic, and his hysterical tirade prevented me from going back to sleep right away.

It also woke me up right in the middle of REM sleep, which caused me to remember what I was dreaming about. It was a name that I hadn’t thought of in years. To be frank, it was a name I thought I’d forgotten, but apparently it had been living in my subconscious all this time like an undetected festering sore.

T.M. was my supervisor when I worked at a county health department. He was a despicable human being. He had no management skills whatsoever. The morale in that department was at toxic levels.

His distrust of his subordinates was so absolute that when someone did make the effort to do something outstanding (which happened less and less over time) he never acknowledged that effort. Praise was not something that one could expect from T.M. Credit was long overdue.

One time, after I spent 6 months creating, coordinating and implementing a conference that was to be attended by hundreds of people (and was a big success, if I do say so myself), T.M. told me that if I wished to attend, I’d need to take leave time and pay the requisite fees. When I protested, he shouted, “You should be fired!”

In that interrupted dream of mine, I had been listing all of the bullies I’ve crossed paths with in my life, and he was right at the top of the list. I wonder how many times I’ve recited that list in my sleep? I spent the day in a foul mood. I’m sick of being bullied.

Then I thought, “I ought to confront this man. I’m not the shrinking violet I once was.” (Especially now that he doesn’t have the ability to fire me.) “Someone needs to put this jerk in his place. Yeah!”

So I Googled him. Yay, me! Standing up for myself! Takin’ back my power!

And I found out that he’s been dead for a decade. Well, now. Perspective.

So, to recap: I spent the day in a blue funk because of a bully that I hadn’t seen since 1998. I allowed this man, whom I thought I’d forgotten, to waste my precious time. And now that I have the courage to confront him, he deprives me of this opportunity by preemptively kicking the bucket. Selfish to the bitter end. What a waste of a perfectly good day.

Clearly, I have unresolved issues. I need to purge these toxins from my body and move on. I’m working on it. But I tell you what: Heaven help the next bully who crosses my path.

No more internalizing bitterness for me. Stand up. Speak out. Nip that stuff in the freakin’ bud and let it go.

bitterness

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