Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Too Good To Be True

Dear Department of Transportation,

On October 8, 2010, my husband I volunteered to be bumped from an American Airlines flight.  American compensated us each with a flight voucher for $300.  American said the only way to redeem the voucher is to make an itinerary online, place a hold on it, and then call into their call center to complete the ticketing process.  Because I am calling into the ticketing center, it costs me $20.  I redeemed a portion of my voucher and will use the remainder on another flight.  This means that the flight voucher I was given is really only worth $260 because I'm forced to pay service fees in order to redeem it.  How is this legally allowed?

Your pal,

Friday, January 21, 2011

Checking Out to Checking In?

Dear Readers,

It's been a while -- whew!  And you might be wondering why it seems like I've checked out, but I can answer that in one word:  Shoveling.

Last week we had an official blizzard, which dumped a good foot of snow on our lawn.  It snowed again throughout the weekend, and then two days ago things were a little melty.  In a sense, that was kind of nice because there is literally nowhere to put anymore snow.   On the flip side, when it got colder yesterday, it started to freeze up (and where the water pools at the bottom of the driveway, it's not pleasant -- I shoveled water just to try to get it out of there). Today we're getting more snow.

All of this means that the Boy and I have become fanatical about the condition of the driveway and sidewalks.  This is an undertaking -- even though we don't have much in the way of sidewalks, our driveway is probably nearly 70 feet long (I just learned the dimensions of our building--I'm blown away by how long it is).  The other day it took me 1 1/2 hours to get through it all.  Luckily we've got a downstairs neighbor, so we don't have to do it all.  However, when everyone else is at work, I'm the one who's responsible for making sure the driveway's clear enough for the cars.

Shovel, salt, sweep, shovel some more.  Try to clear out a path to the garbage cans and recycling bins.  Shovel again.  Go buy some more salt.  Needless to say, our sidewalks and driveway are among the best on the block.

While my brain is pleased about this, my back is starting to get tired of the constant shoveling.  I'm nervous about what this new snow will be like.  Will it be nice and powdery (and light)?  Or wet and heavy (and hard on the body)?  And can I get to the spa for a nice soak anytime soon?

Only time will tell.  Anyway, I just wanted to check in.  I'm hoping that at some point I stop having snow on the brain!

Hope you're doing well--how's winter in your part of the world?
Your pal,

Friday, January 14, 2011

Go Paperless, Already

Dear CVS,

I'm in your loyalty program.  I don't know what you call it--I'm in so many loyalty programs that I can't keep all the names straight, and at some point, who really cares besides your own marketing people who probably stayed up late when it came time to name the thing.  I really only think of it as the one with the tiny card that's supposed to go on my keychain, but I don't want my keychain chock full of loyalty cards, so I keep it in my wallet and have a hard time digging it out anytime I'm in a CVS.

But I digress.  I wondered if you could explain something about the technology and/or program that's connected to the card.  See, it's able to keep track of how much I spend in a quarter.  It's able to keep track of my involvement in special promotions.  It's able to spit out coupons--some of which are for "extra bucks" (the rebate you give me every quarter).  Why is it that the program can't keep track of the extra bucks and automatically deduct them from my bill whenever I have some in my account?

Even though I regularly use coupons, I really loathe the ones from CVS.  It's a coin toss on whether the coupons are actually useful.  When they are, I have to make sure I detach them from the receipt.  If there's "extra bucks," I'm not sure if I have to spend more than that amount when I want to use the coupon.  If I have $4.00 in "extra bucks" but want to use it on a Diet Coke, will the receipt have the remaining bucks, or do I lose them?  (I put this in the "too scared to try/too lazy to look it up" category).

Plus, since our account has more than one card, the Boy also uses it.  He's not always great at giving me the receipts (and I can pretty much guarantee that he's not really into scanning the receipt for coupons).  We've almost lost out on the "extra bucks" we've earned because of this.

It'd be so much easier on your customers if you made the rewards in your loyalty program easier to use.   Put them on the card, and let us deduct them from our transactions if we want to.  Heck, we're in a paperless society now--why are your rewards stuck in the last century?

Your pal,

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Good Samaritans

Dear Torres and the Two Ladies Who Also Stopped to Help,

I'm sorry I scared you this morning, but thanks for calling the ambulance.  See, I've been walking the Boy to the train because I'm trying to exercise a little bit more.

We usually cross Belmont street at a stop light, but when we're hurrying to catch the train, we'll cross at a corner when there's no traffic coming.  That happened today, but right before I stepped into the street, I tripped and rolled my ankle something fierce.  Unlike every other time I've rolled my ankle, I wasn't going to walk this one off.

The Boy asked me if I wanted to go to the doctor, and the pain was bad enough that I did.  I also didn't think I was going to be able to walk the few blocks back home to the car.  So he ran off to get the car, and that's where you all came in.

I can't remember now if I was clinging to the signpost, or if Torres, you helped me there, but I do remember you helping me lie down....and I vaguely remember passing out from the pain.  I assume that's when you all called the ambulance.

I realize I must've looked like a mess--a random girl in big, puffy coat, passed out in the snow, with quite possibly nobody there to help her out.  I really appreciate you stopping to help out (and for canceling the ambulance when the Boy showed up to cart me to the doctor).  Hopefully we remembered to thank you in person--he was a bit freaked to see me on the ground.  Please know though, that we do appreciate your help.  If nothing else, I hope you got a decent story out of this morning's adventure!

Everything looks good--I have a sprain, but it's nothing horrible.  I'll be fine in a few days.  The pain just got the best of me for a few minutes.  Thanks for being there for me when it did.

Your pal,

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Your New Pal Lawrence

Dear Lawrence Dai,

One of my Facebook friends posted your blog, "The Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project," in which you're watching the movie "Julie & Julia" every day for a year, saying that you must be at Guantanamo and that your project is the new waterboarding.  I disagree.

I'm currently in the backlog of your entries, but I admire your pluck--and the bizareness of your task.  I was recently listening to a podcast where one of the hosts said she spent a lengthy period of her life watching "The Empire Strikes Back" every day, so it can be done.  Why you picked this particular movie, I'm not sure, but it adds to the "so bizarre it's hilarious" factor--and that factor is why your blog inspires me.  I love the wacky, but sometimes I'm afraid of putting it out there.  This is just a little push to keep trying.  Goofy is good!

Best of luck in your endeavors.  I'll be following along!
Your pal,

p.s.--This is also inspiration for me to re-watch the movie, which has been on my DVR for a while.  I saw it in the theater and enjoyed it enough to record, but just haven't watched it....

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Point of View?

Dear Jennifer Weiner,

I recently read your book Little Earthquakes, and I have a question.  Why do you tell three of the characters' stories in the third-person but tell Lia's story in the first person?

I'm really curious about your choice from a writing standpoint.  Is it because Lia lost her baby, and the others didn't?  Did you want to share her kind of loss from a first-person perspective?  Or is Lia supposed to be the narrator of the story?  If so, how can she possibly know the others' stories?  Or is she just the narrator of her section?

While I really enjoyed the book, I was continually jarred whenever I got to one of Lia's sections.  I'd be lost in the story, and then all of a sudden, I'd have to remember who the "I" was.  I kept thinking there was a reason why you wrote the story this way--and as a writer, I'm curious to know that--but as a reader, it hurt the flow for me a little bit.

If you get a chance to let me know, I'd appreciate it.  In the meantime, I'll be reading more of your stuff--I'm learning a lot about good storytelling from you.

Your pal,