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Can You Slip On A Banana Peel?

This afternoon, I embarrassed myself. If you’re thinking that is probably hard to do, you’re right. The sad part is, I didn’t do anything that was noticeable. It was just a thought; maybe a subtle action, but nothing more than that.

Banana Peels = Danger

If I put these on the bottom of my shoes, could I ice skate anywhere, even in the summer? (image public domain)

I drove to my gym and pulled in to a parking space. After gathering my things, I opened my car door to hop out. Two banana peels were on the ground next to my car. It looked as if someone before me had arrived at the gym, gobbled two bananas, dropped the peels out of their window and then went in to exercise.

As I stepped out, I thought “don’t step on those, you’ll slip and fall”.

Now, we all know that the proper thing to do in this situation is to ask yourself, or any person within earshot, “what kind of slob does something like that?”. Not me, I’m concerned with self-preservation. I don’t want to fall on my backside. Read the rest of this entry »

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How Much Does It Cost To Thaw A Toilet?

Last week, I explained how I managed to prevent a plumbing disaster in our home by gradually thawing a toilet bowl in our home which had become frozen. I also admitted that the toilet was frozen because I thought it would be funny to see my wife’s reaction to my putting dry ice in the bowl.

A toilet, but not the scene of this crime.(image by usein CCbySA3.0)

A catastrophe was averted that day because of my patient and heroic effort. I managed to thaw the ice before it damaged our plumbing. End of story, or so I thought.

Meet Ted Luby

The next morning was routine. I got a few things done, had lunch and headed to the gym. As I started my time on the treadmill, my phone rang. The number on the screen wasn’t one I recognized so I just kept the treadmill moving; the caller left a message. After a few minutes, curiosity got the best of me and I listened to the message. It wasn’t good. Read the rest of this entry »

How To Thaw Your Toilet

I don’t know, but I’m guessing that the obvious question you have upon reading the title of this post would be “why is my toilet frozen?” Well, I don’t know why yours is frozen. I can only account for how I froze mine, and I’ll do that before I explain how I thawed it.

This is not the toilet that we will be discussing today (public domain image)

The root of this whole situation is that I have a problem. Some people have a gambling issue, others abuse drugs. I have a joke problem. I love practical jokes and pranks, perhaps too much. If there were a twelve step program for this sort of thing, I’d probably be in recovery.

But there isn’t and I’m not in recovery.

It Might Be That I Have A Problem

Before I retired, I pulled my pranks at the office. With one hundred police officers in the division where I worked, I had plenty of targets who took my sense of humor well. Over the course of my career, I rigged desks, computers and cars. I caused a Japanese beetle swarm and redecorated my captain’s office.

Then my career reached its end. Before I left, I wondered what it would be like to walk away from my helping profession. It turns out, that’s been an adjustment. I miss looking after people.

And I miss having so many folks to pull my little stunts on. I imagine my wife wishes that I had a few more targets too; especially tonight. Read the rest of this entry »

Christmas Tradition: Hide The Pickle

Sometimes I think I know everything. When it is obvious that I don’t, I pretend that I do. Today I’m going to tell you about something I learned only recently .

Whenever I’ve heard the phrase “hide the pickle” I thought it referred to something people who like each other a lot do. Dinner & a movie and a bottle of wine on a weekend night have led to a round of hide the pickle for a lot of us. But today I learned something. Hiding the pickle means something different to some people.

I’ve just learned that hiding the pickle is a German Christmas tradition. Pickle hiding, in this context, is something people do while fully dressed. Read the rest of this entry »

The Perpetual Ring Of The Salvation Army Bell

People come, people go. There are a few kids who trot around in the afternoon. We live in a quiet neighborhood.

Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s silent. An occasional truck comes through. And the UPS man always blows his horn when he makes a delivery. I’m not sure why he does that; he never rings the bell, he just drops packages at the door.

Y’know, it really isn’t so bad when you get used to it. (image public domain)

Not far away, there is a quarry. That’s only briefly noisy.  If you happen to notice the warning whistle, the distant explosions aren’t so bad. The dynamite’s thump is more startling when you miss that whistle. But even high explosives aren’t the source of the most frustrating sound in the neighborhood. Read the rest of this entry »

Guilt Comes In To Focus

In reporting on crime stories, media outlets commonly show photographs of involved parties. When a photo depicts a suspect along with people who’ve done nothing wrong, the identities of the uninvolved folks are protected by blurring their faces.

It is important to keep uninvolved parties from being associated with acts they had nothing to do with.  But these altered pictures look to me as if they are saying “here is the guilty party, among some decent, hard-working innocents”. This “guilty party” effect is so powerful that I believe that it can make innocent photos appear far more sinister than they actually are.

Allow me to offer an example. Read the rest of this entry »

Minute Clinic Customer Service

A little over a month ago, I had a particularly bad bout of allergy problems. I fought as hard as I could. The allergy symptoms eventually got the best of me. So I headed off to a MinuteClinic in a local CVS Pharmacy. Little did I know that this was the start of an ordeal that would cost me far more than a minute.

Trees. I’m only allergic to them in the spring and the fall (image via by R Neil Marshman CCbySA3.0)

I’m going to be fair and tell you that things went very well during my visit to the clinic. The nurse at my MinuteClinic carefully diagnosed my problem, prescribed some medication to get me some relief and even made sure my flu shot was up to date. I had my prescriptions in hand in a flash and was on my way home for the first good night of sleep I’d had in days. And then…

The Odyssey Of Minute Clinic Customer Service

There’s so often an “and then” in life, isn’t there? You deal with someone who is really on top of their game…and then. MinuteClinic’s “and then” isn’t in the clinics themselves, it is after the cure takes effect.

A few weeks after getting relief for my allergies, my wife and I were on vacation. She received an email from American Express that a charge on our card at CVS, hundreds of miles away, back home. This was of great concern to us. We’d just been through getting a new card after our old account was compromised. A call to American Express didn’t help us figure out what the charge was and we had to put an alert on our card to make sure there were no further potentially fraudulent charges.

I had a theory that the charge was somehow related to my MinuteClinic visit, so I made my first of many calls to the third circle of hell that is the MinuteClinic Customer Service line. I got someone on the phone inexplicably fast, given what I’d later experience, but she was not much help. After asking a series of questions, the first person I spoke to at MinuteClinic customer service said to me “yes, you did go to the clinic on October 3″.

Optimist that I am, I thought that was her just letting me know that she found my record. It wasn’t. That was the full extent of the information that she was able to give me. I already knew that I’d been to the clinic. I explained my plight again – I was on vacation with a credit card that was nearly impossible to use because of a potentially fraudulent charge at CVS MinuteClinic. She told me that was a question for the billing department.

“Great”, I said, “go on and connect me to billing and we’ll get this ironed out”. She wasn’t able to do that since the billing department was only open Monday through Friday and this was Saturday. Wonderful. They bill on Saturday, but the bill-er’s are inexplicably not present. So, because of CVS MinuteClinic, we were stuck in Florida with a credit card that was only good for picking door locks.

After we returned home, I made nine different calls trying to reach the MinuteClinic billing department. Here is what I learned from those calls – I learned that my call is important to them. It isn’t important enough to actually answer my call, but I must put off an aura of importance that they value because they told me over and over how important it was that I called…each time the recording told me to continue holding. For seven of those calls I was not able to hold long enough to speak to a representative. On each of those seven calls I was on hold for more than forty-five minutes before I surrendered.

On the eighth call I got a different recording that instructed to call back when the billing office was open from 9-5, Monday through Friday.

I’d dialed them at 3p.m. on a Wednesday.

I decided to try the social media route. I posted a gripe about the “call back when we’re open” message and got a rapid reply. “Please send us your name and email, we’ll have someone get in touch with you.” Foolishly, I thought this was the beginning of the end of my battle. Eighteen hours later, I’d not received an email or a call. I’d have to fight on.

And On The Ninth Call, A Miracle Happened

I decided to let CVS Minute Clinic have one more shot at getting this right.


If you’re looking for the Customer Service Number for CVS MinuteClinic, here it is. Note that I was on hold for 1:05:57…and then some. Good luck to you if you call them.

After one hour and six minutes of listening to hold music and being reminded how important my call was, I heard someone come on the line and ask if she could help me. I opened by acknowledging that I was sure she heard this complaint all day, but I thought she should know that being on hold for an hour and six minutes didn’t make me feel important. Now, when I said that I didn’t expect that she’d say “I’m sorry, it’s all my fault” because it probably wasn’t.

I did expect her to say something more than “yeah, it’s bad”. Restating the obvious sometimes only magnifies it.

So I explained my situation. That’s not true, I told her that their hold music sucks and then I explained my situation.

Four minutes. That’s all it took. She was efficient in the way that I’d hope that someone who I’d spent six hours of my life waiting to talk to would be. The charge was finally confirmed as legitimate and my CVS MinuteClinic Customer Service ordeal came to an end. I thanked her for her help and let her move on to the next person who, I’m sure, would start their conversation with “do you have any idea how long I’ve been on hold?”

Sometimes, I look back on situations and ask myself what I’d do differently if given the chance. In this case, I’d have to say that I’d be more resistant to allergens. Also, I’d have put my headphones on and listened to better music than that stuff CVS chose for their hold music.

I wonder if CVS MinuteClinic ever wonders what they could do to make situations right. If they do, compensating me for my time would be a nice place to start.



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