Thursday, June 29, 2006

Redemption for A-Rod

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Vicky returned my call

I got a call from a service rep at Victoria's Secret this morning. She was so nice and apologetic about the rude treatment I received on Saturday. So nice, in fact, that I felt bad telling her how much her Ithaca store sucks at customer service.

After I explained the situation, she told me that:
1) they absolutely guarantee their products, even after they've been washed;
2) she will be letting quality control know about the damaged panties I returned;
3) she will be writing up a report to send to the regional and district manager; and
4) she will be sending me a letter of apology and a 30% coupon for my next purchase.

I couldn't have asked for anything more. Vicky is officially off my shit list.

Poor A-Rod

Funniest thing I heard on the radio this morning -- made me laugh out loud -- even it was bashing one of my guys.

In last night's game, A-Rod popped out, flied out, grounded out and struck out.

He sucked for the cycle.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"Well you came and you gave without takin'"

My email to the Victoria's Secret customer service on-line, apparently is not the correct one. On-line and the store are separate divisions, so my response....

Dear Ellie,

Thank you for your e-mail regarding your encounter with the Victoria's Secret Store. We regret any inconvenience caused by this matter.

We regret your shopping trip wasn't a pleasant one. When a client chooses to shop with Victoria's Secret, we want them to have a pleasant shopping experience. Please accept our sincere apologies that the Victoria's Secret retail store didn't provide you with the quality of service our clients expect and deserve.

We assure you that your experience isn't indicative of the quality of service customarily offered to our clients. We strive to serve each client as courteously and responsibly as possible. Victoria's Secret prides ourselves with providing good quality service, but sometimes we don't meet our goals. We're very sorry when that happens; nothing is more important to us than taking care of our clients.

Victoria's Secret Stores and Victoria's Secret Direct are sister divisions of the same parent company, Limited Brands, Inc. As such, we function as separate businesses. To have someone contact you please call 1-614-577-7111 and leave a message with your name and a daytime telephone number you can be reached at. Once you have called and shared your information, Victoria's Secret Stores Client Relations will return your call as soon as possible.

If you need further assistance, please reply to this e-mail or call anytime.

We hope that you will try shopping with Victoria's Secret again soon.

Sincerely,
Mandy
VictoriasSecret.com Client Services

I called the not-toll-free number and left my name and work number, as requested. We'll see if they get back to me.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Can anyone say customer service?

My niece used to make fun of me because I'm a letter writer. Yes, I'm one of those. I have a bad experience, and it pisses me off enough to write a letter to the company. I haven't had to write one in a while -- not because I haven't encountered poor service, but not poor enough to make me take the time to write something or call someone.

That changed this weekend with a trip to the mall. A letter that I wrote today to the customer service email address at Victoria's Secret:

I shop frequently at the Pyramid Mall store in Ithaca, NY. Never once have I gone in there and been satisfied with the treatment I receive or the attitude of the sales associates. They are unfriendly and seem unhappy to be there. I am a regular Victoria's Secret shopper, and have never been in a store before this one where I had encountered such poor service.

On Saturday (June 24), I finally reached my limit. I went into the store around 10:30 a.m. I was not greeted, but I have become used to that in this store. I shopped and picked up a few things on the sales tables, and also picked up a pair of the hip-huggers from the regularly priced table. I had bought six pairs several months ago, and on one pair, the elastic began to fray, so I was hoping for an exchange.

When I approached the sales desk, I explained the situation and showed the clerk that I had picked up an identical pair for the exchange. In a monotone voice, she said, "we don't guarantee our products once they've been washed." No further explanation from her.

I told her that they were $12 underwear and I expected them to hold up to more than a half dozen washings. She sighed loudly, grabbed the underwear from my hand and approached the manager. The manager also sighed loudly, and as if she were doing a huge favor, said in a nasty tone to the clerk, "just do the exchange."

There was no small-talk at the register, no friendly banter. I felt uncomfortable and almost walked out, leaving my $40 purchase at the desk. After the transaction was complete -- with "no thank you for shopping with us" -- I walked over to Bath & Body Works, where I am also a regular customer. I asked the manager, knowing VS and BBW are owned by the same company, if she had a number I could call and complain. Unlike the BBW receipts, there was no corporate number.

I buy all of my bras and panties at Victoria's Secret, and living in a small town with only one mall, this is my only option. However, I am frustrated enough to not go in there again. And mail order seems ridiculous -- why should I pay shipping costs when there is a store in my town?

Two days later, I am still really annoyed and angered by the lack of customer service in a store whose sister company is all about customer service. I look forward to hearing a response.

Thanks for your time,

Ellie


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Shrinkage

I realized the other day just how seriously my body image issues are. I was showing the girls from work pictures from last weekend in Richmond, pictures of me and my niece, all dressed up for graduation.

What I saw: my hips, bulging out of proportion to the rest of my body; I looked like a freakin' bell.

What they saw: a leaner, slimmed down Ellie from the one they met two years ago; they even commented on how flattering the dress was and could not believe that I couldn't see that.

Even Hope said, "I never notice when people get their haircut, lose weight, gain weight, etc....but the change in your body, the clothes that you are able to wear now, the way you have out-grown your wardrobe....how can you now see that?"

How can I not see that? I don't know. But I don't see it. I can't work out in front of a mirror because I see the imperfections -- not how far I've come, but how far I still have to go.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Still my best magnetic poem

We will play all day
dance all night
and be beautiful tomorrow

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I went a little "Martha Stewart"

Sunday morning was party day, event day. While they were all at church, I showered and started picking up. Anything that didn't need to be downstairs was moved to the second floor -- more specifically, my brother's bedroom, which suddenly looked trashed.

A flurry of activity began after church, when really all I wanted for them was to eat, shower and stay out of my way. I had assigned tasks for the grandmothers -- cutting the fruits and veggies and storing them in individual baggies, and then making up the plastic ware in a napkin and tying it with a ribbon. I needed no other help. And I told them that, told them that I was in event mode, that I just needed to do my thing, that I most definitely have a problem with delegation, and apologized in advance for being bossy.

My sister-in-law was hanging balloons all over the house -- I followed her and curled the ribbon. We hung banners out front, with more balloons, and then decorated Tiffany's car.

At that point, I just had strawberries to dip and the cake table to set up. The cake was at the neighbor's house and they weren't home. So after dipping strawberries, I figured I would go up and straighten my hair. I was making a bit of a mess with the melting chocolate -- pink, blue & white -- and kept wiping my hand on the dish rag. My sister-in-law's mother, who could not understand why I didn't want her to help me, grabbed the rag to wipe down the table outside. I told her she needed to rinse it for the very reason I just explained -- there were globs of melted chocolate on it.

She threw it back in the sink, shrunk back as if I had just slapped her, took a few paper towels and ran from me. From that point on -- a good hour or two before the party even started -- she never spoke to me again. I did hear her make several catty comments -- in front of me, but never to me -- about how she wanted to help, but nobody would let her. Apparently, my new name was nobody.

At one point, after the party, when I was picking up, it got to me. I was upset that she was being such a bitch to me. Couldn't she see that I was doing all of this for her daughter and granddaughter -- and just be grateful for that? And then when she went up to bed and I said goodnight to her, she didn't acknowledge the fact that I was leaving the next morning before she got up.

At that point, after not getting enough sleep all weekend, not getting caught up on sleep from getting up at 4:30 to drive last week, running around all weekend, after dealing with the drama of the first day of the trip and the grandmothers in general, Joann treating like that all day was my breaking point. Was I really glad to be leaving Richmond to come back to Ithaca? Was I really looking forward to getting back to work? God help me, I was.

I can't wait to go back in August -- there will be no grandmothers to deal with. Just a very sad sister-in-law as she sends her baby off to college.

Monday, June 19, 2006

36 is too old to travel with your parents

At least, it's too old to travel with my parents. For the most part -- and I will concede this -- it was fine. They paid for the gas, I listened to what I wanted to on the radio. I think that we spent too much time together over the course of five days, on top of eight hours in a car each way. And I like my quiet -- every once in a while, my mother would pop up with a comment that wasn't really a question.

"You did such a nice job on the party."

Hmm..hmm. And then when that response wasn't enough for her, she would repeat the same sentence -- verbatum -- about 30 minutes later. And then again in another hour or two.

But that's not even the best part -- let me rewind to Tuesday night when they arrived in Ithaca. I had to hear about her new diet and how she writes her food down and emails it to her nutritionist every night and she had only eaten 500 calories that day (and you wonder where I get my food and diet issues!). I told her that was way too few, but she seemed to know best.

Wednesday morning, we got up about 4:30 and were on the road by 5:00am. A quick stop at the Wegmans in Wilkes-Barre for breakfast and coffee, and we were on our way to Baltimore. We made it to the Museum about 10:15 (I drove about 3 to 5 mph slower than I normally do, thus adding about 15 to 25 minutes onto my usual time). When we got there, Mike was waiting in the lobby for me (my friend had told him I was due there at any moment). So I played nice with my former boss, and my friend Johnny Z chatted with my parents. Out of the corner of my eye and with one ear, I could sense some Fran drama (light-headedness, got up too fast, I'm fine now). I ignored it and continued talking to Mike. Then we toured the Museum.

At the end, in the gift shop, Fran asked where the bathroom was. I pointed her in the right direction and talked to other former co-workers. We were still chatting when my mother came back from the bathroom, told my dad she wasn't feeling well and promptly fainted. And I had to catch her. She came to within a minute or so and we sat her in a chair, someone got her water, I went out to the car to get her an apple and some candy.

And there we sat for another 30 minutes. Z teased me about my Swedish fish and sour patch kids -- "you and your candy on long drives." I kept looking at the time -- I wanted to get to Richmond. And I knew my mother was fine -- that she had been eating 500 calories (at best, I'm guessing) for at least the past week. Her ass was about to go to a drive through and eat some grease.

And so, after the always lovely and congested trip across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge (35 minutes to go five miles -- and then miraculously no traffic on the other side, it just disappears), we stopped in Fairfax and got Wendy's. She slept a little in the back seat, I talked on my cell phone with my sister-in-law in code, and my father looked out the window, and occassionally turned around to check on my mom. I was more worried about him being worried.

We made it to Richmond with no other crisis. She went upstairs to take a nap, I set my father up in front of the TV to watch soccer, and I made myself a drink (diet cherry pepsi and run -- yum!) and started making sauce and meatballs for dinner the next night, and marinating the chicken for dinner that night.

I wish I could say that was all the drama for the weekend, but alas, we had a whole other set of grandparents arriving the next night. Another mother as wacky as mine can be, and another father who can be just as cranky as mine.

I'm off to shower and sleep for my first day back to work tomorrow...the weekend is to be continued.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

It's Done

I went for a walk to the post office this morning. When I got back, my boss had IM'd me to say that he needed to postpone our 1:00 meeting. No problem, except I really wanted to talk about my decision in this search process before I went on vacation.

I popped my head in his office and asked for five minutes. I told him that I had done a lot of soul-searching over the weekend and I wanted to respectfully withdraw from the search. He immediately seemed relieved.

"What made you think about it?"

"I saw one of the candidate's resumes."

He laughed. "Yea, this was the strongest pools of candidates I've ever seen for a search. The governor's press secretary didn't make the final round."

"I don't want you to think less of me, I don't want you to think I'm copping out."

"No, I respect your decision...and honestly, I really need you right where you are. I need you to take on more responsibility if you're willing, including the supervisory role of the new Swee."

He thanked me about a hundred times, and was genuine in his respect for me and my decision. It went much easier than I thought it would, and I am so glad it's over.

Now....I can get in vacation mode. Whoo-hoo!

Monday, June 12, 2006

What would Sweesus do?

I talked to my former co-worker this morning. And Swee, in all her no-holds bar approach to life, told me to withdraw from the search. She agreed that it would just put everyone in an awkward position, including me.

I will have the talk with my boss tomorrow during my performance evaluation. Once that is over, I can think about my vacation starting on Wednesday morning.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Decisions, Decisions

As I get ready for my last two days of work this week, before I head to Richmond for a long weekend, I'm faced with inner conflict, inner turmoil -- and really I am the only one who can make the decision.

I am one of five finalist for the media relations position. If I weren't a finalist, I would be a part of the final interview process. As the candidates come on campus for their in-person interviews, I -- along with others in my department -- would have a chance to interview them. I was inadvertently scheduled for such a meeting the other day. And thus, I had accidental access to one of the candidate's resumes.

I remedied the situation quickly by talking to the administrative assistant -- and she realized her mistake and took the meeting off my calendar. But....I saw the resume. And I'm not conflicted because it might be unfair, blah blah blah. I'm conflicted because I'm not nearly as qualified as this person.

She has 15 years experience in college communications, public information or media relations in higher education; she is currently the director of communications at a college. Her resume is six pages long!

I can't compete with that. And if it were just another job interview, I wouldn't be worried. So I didn't get the job. Oh well. But it's a different dynamic, because I will be interviewed by my co-workers, some of whom are my friends. And the others, well...I have issues with the way they speak to people in meetings, they way they ask questions of others. It's more accusatory, more of an attack, no respect for people's opinions, ideas or knowledge -- do I really want to set myself up for that? And then have to face them after the interview. If I don't do well in the interview, will they have lost some respect for me and my abilities?

I've been thinking about it all weekend. I have my performance review with my boss on Tuesday afternoon. I was thinking that I would ask the admin to not schedule anything for me until after I talk with my boss on Tuesday -- and bounce it all off of him. The whole lack of respect that people have for each other in meetings is something that I was planning to bring up anyone. It just might be a good entree into my decision about the MR job.

Such a weighty issue as I pull out my typed "to pack" list and prepare for Virginia. I should be relishing in all the organizational type tasks ahead of me today, instead I'm worrying about work, which I haven't done over a weekend since I lived in Baltimore.

Maybe a call to my former co-worker is in order. She knows the dynamics and politics of the office -- and she has 20+ years in the corporate world. And best of all, she knows where my level of self confidence is. She knows me. Yes, a call to Mama Swee is definitely in order.

Friday, June 09, 2006

TGIF

Good things today:

* only one meeting
* Time Warner is coming by to fix my modum so I will once again have internet at home (these past twp weeks have been killing me!)
* I'm going to the 'Cuse to see my niece and the baby
* I will be in 90+ degree-weather in five days -- whoo hoo

Monday, June 05, 2006

Stupid Things that People Say

* "You don't want to be married -- you'll be bitching about your man just like the rest of us."

* After a round-table discussion of soccor games, piano lessons, swim meets, etc...."are you sure you really want kids? Be thankful you don't have them."

* "It's just one meal -- it won't ruin your diet."

* "How old are you now? Oh you've got plenty of time -- stop worrying about it."

* "As much as you work out and you've only lost 40 pounds?"


In the past week, I've heard each of these things and it pissed me off. Though, sadly, not the first time I've heard any of these things. When did people become so insensitive -- or is it that I'm over sensitive?