Friday, July 18, 2014

In Which I Was Unkind ...

Yesterday (Thursday) I was regrettably, and uselessly, unkind to a man who had parked in my drive.
Now, to be fair to myself, he helped the situation by speaking in a hostile way. We had a nice cycle of mutual escalation going here, although since neither of us wanted trouble, it was simply verbal.
But it was also unnecessary. As I piece together the story, I was resting downstairs after a long workday, and working up the energy to fill out paperwork, when I got a call.
It was a neighbor asking if I knew the man in my front yard. The neighbor sounded concerned and I picked up on that. It was possible that Kris had a friend over and I did not want to interfere, but that didn't sound right either.
I went out the back door and saw a frankly ratty car parked in my drive and hanging over the sidewalk. I really don't like it when people do that, because it just doesn't fit. People on the sidewalk have to go around it. The hood was up and a guy who looked like Eric was putting water into the radiator.
I asked what he was doing and he said the lady of the house had asked him to look at cutting some trees.
I felt vexed. Treecutting has been a longtime issue on this land, and I immediately wondered if I was being gone around. I told him no trees were to be cut down here.
I want to stop at this point to state that I could have responded more mildly. I didn't use any bad words or threats, but I did let my anger show through. He had no way of knowing this was a sore point for me.
I think now that he was just looking for work.
I respect that. I don't think he was going about it in the most effective way, but there is no evidence that he was trying anything dishonest. He just needed work.
Eventually he left. He was very distressed because his car wouldn't start. I asked him if I gave it a push could he kickstart it, and he said it was a stick, which may or may not have been an answer, but he did want a push. It took a moment to get it rolling but I am happy to say that I can still push a small car down our street by myself. His way of kickstarting it was to crank it more. I don't know whether it was an automatic or he was a dumbass, but eventually he ended up on Henderson and still not running.
I was in my slippers and unwilling to go much further without putting on shoes. Alex or someone who looks like him came up Henderson, coming off work, and started walking over to help, but then the engine started and the guy drove away.
I would not have hurt to show compassion with the guy. I didn't want him to work here, but he needed work.
However, sometimes I just soak up the misery in a situation and return it. It's a reflex, and I suppose it's a common reflex, but it's something to think about doing better on.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wednesday's Lesson: It Pays To Ask!

Today is a recovery day, as I clean up and neaten up after about two weeks of solid work, both paid and volunteer.
I have a natural tendency to set paperwork aside and get to it tomorrow; as a result, I have a full in-tray of paperwork to go through today. First I set up my work for tomorrow, and now after lunch I attack the backlog.
The most urgent item was a bill which, to my horror, appeared to be overdue. I have been fortunate in being rarely overdue (and never by necessity); it just really bugs me to be late on things and also vexes me to pay late charges - it's a tax on being disorganized.
I mentally prepared myself to face the embarrassment of late charges and get set up for some sort of autopay so this doesn't happen again, and then made the call. The tech support line was frankly slow; there were several issues that just seemed odd, but ultimately I got my late payment made and then, since we were on the line together and I was on the website, I set up autopay as the tech offered suggestions.
I had been hoping that the tech would at some point note that there was a late fee and offer to delete it, since my record as a customer was good, but he didn't. I frankly disliked bringing the subject up, but it's money that I need so I reflected that ten minutes invested to save $25 would be an hourly rate of $250 an hour or so. So I asked: "Is there some sort of late fee, and can you do anything about that?"
I could have asked more forcefully, but that was enough. The tech had to mess around a bit, and I'm sure he was checking my history and so forth, but it was pretty clean (and there are lots of other backs that would like my business, but that would not have been helpful to state) so ultimately he came back and said he had to check with his manager but he was going to waive the fee because my history was good.
I thanked him sincerely, you can bet!
The major lesson here is that it never hurts to ask, and the other lesson is that it was not necessary to be hostile; polite and even humorous requests seem to elicit that same decision tree as angry and hostile, but at a far lesser cost for all involved. It may have helped that I acknowledged my error and took visible steps to prevent its recurrence: I was clearly a good customer on which they would make a lot of money in the future, so it only made sense to give me this sweetner.
So if you ever get a late fee or some other ding from making a mistake, don't be shy: ask!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Best Practices In Living With Your Ex

I can't be the only person living in the basement of the house I own because the financial situation of my self and my ex is such that neither of us can buy the other out. It can be a delicate matter, but since neither of us especially dislikes each other, it's proven workable so far, especially compared to the alternative of financial ruin for us both.
A few suggestions.

  • Cultivate a spirit of detachment. Arise every morning and say "it's over". Today is not the day that she is going to realize that she needs you to load the dishwasher so much that she wants a romantic relationship. It's. Not. Gonna. Happen. And that's o.k.
  • Take nothing personal. When Michelle Kowkittykat comes meowing and demanding to be brushed, she does not intend to interrupt my work; she has needs, that's all. Likewise, when the drunken ex shows pictures of the beauty of Puget Sound on the cellphone that you are still making payments on, she is merely expressing her joy in nature; she's not really talking about the lawyer with a nice income who took her there and paid for her drinks.
  • Get out and talk with someone new every day. There are more than seven billion people on this planet. If only one-one hundredth of one-percent of them are better for you than your housemate is, that is over seventy million people. How many have you met?


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Best Practices for Screening and Representing Unaccompanied Children, and more free CLE - 4freeCLE July 13, 2014

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July 13, 2014
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