Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Don't Tick Us Off

I am in the process of updating my list of blogs that I enjoy.  When I first started this blog, I was all about quilting, but since that time my priorities and interests have changed somewhat, so within the next couple of days I will be deleting those blogs that I no longer read and adding many that I do.

One of the blogs that I enjoy is "Coffee with the Hermit"

This morning he had a post that had me giggling like a schoolgirl, particularly since I had just this past week had conversations with the Social Security Administration and the people at Medicare, trying to find out why money had been deducted from my check for the insurance, while at the same time I was not listed on the rolls of the insured through Medicare.  It was an interesting battle, just getting to talk to someone who might possibly know the reasons for this oversight.  I really wish I had read the following before starting that journey of telephone insanity!

Jim from "Coffee with the Hermit" has kindly given me permission to post this letter, which is a classic.

"Shown below, is an actual letter was sent to a bank by an 86 year old woman. The bank manager thought it amusing enough to have it published in the New York Times.

Dear Sir:
I am writing to thank you for bouncing my check with which I endeavoured to pay my plumber last month.

By my calculations, three nanoseconds must have elapsed between his presenting the check and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honour it.

I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my entire pension, an arrangement which, I admit, has been in place for only eight years.

You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account $30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank.

My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways. I noticed that whereas I personally answer your telephone calls and letters, --- when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become.

From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person.

My mortgage and loan repayments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank, by check, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate.

Be aware that it is an OFFENSE under the Postal Regulations for any other person to open such an envelope.

Please find attached an Application Contact which I require your chosen employee to complete.

I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative.

Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Notary Public, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.

In due course, at MY convenience, I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me.

I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modelled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance on your phone bank service.

As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Let me level the playing field even further. When you call me, press buttons as follows:


#1. To make an appointment to see me.

#2. To query a missing payment.

#3. To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.

#4 To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping.

#5. To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.

#6. To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home.

#7. To leave a message on my computer, a password to access my computer is required.
Password will be communicated to you at a later date to that Authorized Contact mentioned earlier.

#8. To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through 9.

#9. To make a general complaint or inquiry.

The contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service.

#10. This is a second reminder to press* for English.

While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call.

Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.

May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous New Year?

Your Humble Client

PS: Don't make old people mad. We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to tick us off."

I love it!

Friday, November 18, 2011

In Praise of Front Porches

Front porches seem to be a thing of the past.  I notice that many of the older homes in the town where I live do, indeed, have front porches.  Most in the newer developments do not.  There may be a small covered area by the front door, but not a real front porch.  A front porch, to be a really truly front porch, needs to cover the entire front of the house and perhaps extend around to one side.

My Grandma Paul's house in St. Paul had a front porch across the front of her house and extending a little ways around one side.  I played there often as a child.  It was the one place I could play and pretty much stay out of trouble.  It was when I left the porch that bad things happened, like being enticed by neighbor kids, older than my four years, to sliding down a two by eight board that they had propped up on the fence.  Sliding down on my belly resulted in a visit to the hospital to have a large sliver of wood removed from the area of my waist.  Should have stayed on the porch.

The first house my family lived in after moving to Willmar had a front porch.  The landlady who lived in the downstairs of the house allowed my sister and I to play on the porch.  One winter while we lived there, Willmar was blanketed by a huge snow storm.  My sister, who was not much older than a toddler at the time, walked off the edge of the porch into the deep snow and promptly disappeared from sight.  Good thing my Dad was right there to haul her out.  Should have stayed on the porch.

The next house in Willmar where we lived had a kind of half front porch.  Wasn't much of a porch.  But then, it wasn't much of a house, being very small.  But in the summer there were vines growing up wire that Dad strung from the roof to the bottom of the porch rail, which made the front porch cool and kind of dark and a really good place to play on hot summer days.

The best front porch of all the houses I lived in as a child was the front porch of the house on the farm.  It was a wonderful porch that extended all the way across the front of the house.  It was screened in to keep the bugs out.  Dad had dragged an old vinyl covered couch that folded down into a bed, out to the porch.  As a young kid I spent many a summer night sleeping on that old couch out on the porch.

From the porch we could see across the fields and Dad and I would stand there, protected from the weather, and watch the black summer storm clouds roll across the sky.  I still like to watch the clouds on a stormy day.

There was an old kitchen table and some chairs on the porch, and in the summer when we had weekend company, Mom would make pitchers of real lemonade and serve them with gingersnaps, out on the porch where it was cool and the breeze felt good out of the heat of the sun.

I think that we need more front porches.  For with a good front porch comes the art of just sitting and watching the world go by.  Or watching clouds roll in.  Or just sitting.  And thinking.  And remembering.  And dreaming.  Which is always good for the soul.

Monday, November 7, 2011


My phone rang last evening.  David called to tell me to check my email as he had sent me a picture.

He also said that there was a venison roast or two in my future.

Woo Hoo!