On the road again
Mrs. B, Cheko the Dog, and me are en route to Hampton Roads, Va., to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with my family.
We drove 'cause Cheko does not play well on airplanes. And we stopped half way, arriving early Monday afternoon in Savannah, Ga. Had I remembered ahead of time I'd have dug up the number of my old college buddy Mark, a U.S. Marshal in Savannah and emailed our blog friend Savannah, who lives in this lovely city. Nevertheless, we enjoyed a fun evening downtown - a little shopping, a lot of strolling, and a little eating/drinking. Good times. And lots of southern hospitality. Take note, Miami.
Anyway, let's call this a start-of-the-week roundup:
- The value of good PR - Every time I read a story like this I think about how Mark Twain said that the differences between the right word and the almost right word are the differences between lightning and lightning bugs. Whatever you think of Heather Mills-McCartney's marital "abilities," or her semi-public battle for a bigger divorce settlement, I'm willing to consider giving her a fraction of a point for seeming to care about the earth. But then I read that she believes drinking cow's milk is no better than chugging rat milk. And in full context - something partly missing in the above link - she suggests we might help the earth by drinking rat's milk instead of moo juice. I'm guessing she meant well, but personally, I don't think Earth cares how much milk we drink. Still, I have to admit Mill's rat milk rant did make me wonder how we chose cows. I mean, way back in the day before fire was invented and humans first figured out that some animals are virtual dairy vending machines, why did we choose cows? Why not dog milk or rabbit milk or camel milk? Did cow milk taste better or something, and how did we figure that out - blind taste test? But I digress. Here's a tip to all Mills-esque vegans out there: the best way to try to get regular folks to buy into your no-dairy argument is not to suggest they drink milk from diseased rodents. That would be the proverbial lightning bug. Marketing 101. Bad imagery doesn't sell. Just ask Sheryl "One Square" Crow. Besides, it would take a whole fleet of rats to produce a gallon's worth.
- Abuse of baked goods - This has Scarface or Goodfellas written all over it, just on a smaller scale with dumber characters. The link leads to a story about two Southern Illinois University students who burned a guy with fresh-baked cookies as punishment after their drug deal with him went bad. OK, who takes the time to bake cookies prior to or during a drug deal? Were they trying to be hospitable or something? I can't imagine that conversation. Rosario: Yo Jordan, the crack man's coming over in 30 minutes. Should we serve coffee or tea? Jordan: Good idea! And I'll bake some cookies, in case he's hungry! I will give these guys creative torture points. Based on the drug/mob movies I've seen, they usually burn each other with cigarettes. But creativity never works for bad guys. Just look at all those James Bond villains who strapped him to tables and aimed lasers at him, or tied him up and suspended him over a shark tank. If they'd just smacked him in the head with a baseball bat or shot him or something they'd all have taken over the world by now and he'd be a blank face on a nameless plaque in a hallway at MI-6.
- Soft answers don't work - This one's personal. If you've read this blog for any amount of time you know one of my biggest pet peeves is bad customer service. And almost as much as the bad service, I get bugged when good people bend over and take it. Some of you have suggested to me in the past that a soft answer helps resolve things, a take off on the scripture that says "a soft answer turneth away wrath." Sorry, but I'm convinced that only works when you're preaching to someone or trying to make peace with your disgruntled spouse. So about five weeks ago, a few days after Mrs. B and I lost the baby, I was driving her car and noticed it felt funny. The next day I realized what was wrong. The transmission was slipping. The car is only a year old though, and has only had tire rotations, fluid flushes, and oil changes. It took the service department at the dealership where we bought the car just minutes to figure out that the transmission was seriously damaged and that the damage had been caused a few weeks earlier when a Jiffy Lube service tech, in his haste to quickly change the oil, accidentally removed the transmission fluid filter and then, after realizing his mistake, put it back on, thinking no one would know. The problem was he punctured the filter in the process, and Mrs. B's car had been leaking fluid up until I noticed the symptoms. So there we were facing a $5,800 tab for a new transmission in a nearly new car. And no, the manufacturer's warranty didn't cover it 'cause the damage was caused by a mechanic and a service shop, Jiffy Lube, not certified by the vehicle's manufacturer to tamper with the transmission. So I called Jiffy Lube and demanded they make things right. The short of this story is that they strung me along for nearly four weeks, slowly inching in the right direction. In the end, about a week ago, after Mrs. B's transmission was replaced, the Jiffy Lube customer service manager in Houston who had been handling our case, decided to get cute. She spent several days telling me the check was in the mail. I know that excuse. I used it in college. Finally on Thursday, she scornfully, almost gleefully told me that Jiffy Lube had decided to not pay for the repair, and she sarcastically wished me good luck getting Mrs. B's car back from the shop 'cause it wasn't Jiffy Lube's problem anymore. So, as my grandma would say, I had to show my arse. I think that's southern for freeing the beast. I promised her that she would have egg on her face before the week was over. Then I called up the Jiffy Lube corporate chain. I called and called and called, till I had to be no more than a couple of layers removed from the Big Kahuna's office. By that point they had to be wondering who the mad man from Miami was. And I can't imagine it hurt that among the several call back numbers I left in one voicemail was my office number...at the Miami Herald. And when one Jiffy Lube exec returned my call, she called me at work, and I answered in my angry reporter voice. Seriously, it's a practiced voice. Anywho, in a matter of two hours, not only had I received an apology from Jiffy Lube, but they paid the repair costs in full by the next morning, and paid the cost for Mrs. B's rental car in full by the next afternoon, and, according to the big boss who set this correction in motion, the customer service agent I dealt with was being put under a disciplinary review. So let's review: I'm nice and mild mannered, a virtual Clark Kent for four weeks, and the car remains broken while I talk to a brick wall called Jiffy Lube customer service. But I change my tone, put on my red cape, and start growling at people, and almost immediately - literally in less than a day - everything is fixed? Hmmm.
OK, I'm signing off. In the morning we have another seven hours of driving ahead. I'll post more later in the week. Until then, peace and hair grease - JB.