To Protect and Serve? Who?

We are living in very trying times.  Big brother is definitely watching, no matter where you are.  There are no longer clear lines between the good guys and the bad guys.  Every story is sensationalized, scrutinized, scrubbed, scratched and scarred.  The average citizen may or may not feel compelled to do the right thing, turning the cheek is easier than getting involved in right or wrong.

I am one of those average citizens.  I tried to do right, following the values I had been taught (and taught my children) over my lifetime.  I am not sure I would do it again.

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My two daughters and I went to a town about 45 minutes away from where we live.  It is the closest town of any size to us.  The population is roughly 35,000.  My middle daughter needed to make some purchases to get ready for church camp and working at a Scout camp this summer.

The first thing we needed to do was to get gas in our auto.  The girls decided they would walk over to the nearest post office box to drop some cards in while I gassed up.  Before I’d even opened the gas cap on my vehicle, a lady in a car pulled in right behind me.  I knew that I had a gas hog and it would take a little bit to fill my tank.  I noticed that the pump on the other side of mine was empty so I just made hand signals to the driver to let her know it was available.  She backed up and went around to that other pump.  When she got out of her car, I explained why I suggested she move to an empty pump.  She said something but I didn’t hear it.

Then, all of a sudden, I heard heart-wrenching crying and sobbing.  I looked around and realized it was the same lady.  I peeked between the structure and asked her if she was okay.  Her son had just passed away that morning and she was absolutely distraught.  So much so that she couldn’t get gas in her car.  She couldn’t put her card in the pump.  She just sobbed, wailed and attempted to function.  Those attempts failed.

My heart went out to her.  I asked her if she needed help.  She told me more about her son and showed me a photo of him on her phone.  I asked her if there was someone I could call to drive her wherever she needed to go.  I suggested one of my daughters could drive her car while I followed, so she could go be with someone to grieve.  She refused on all accounts – she only wanted to be alone.  While I understood her desire, I disagreed with her with regard to driving alone.  She was not safe to be on the road and I told her so.  Others weren’t safe from her car, driving while totally emotionally strung out.  She could not stop the tears, the running nose, the screams, the agony.

Just before she drove off, she looked toward me and asked me why I cared, I was just a stranger to her.  I told her it was because she mattered.  “YOU matter,” I repeated, before she got in her car and drove off.

I am probably the only woman left on the planet who does not own a cell phone…but, I don’t.  We don’t get cell reception in our house and I go off property only a couple times a month so it’s pointless for me to pay for a cell phone and service when I need one once in a blue moon.

As my daughters returned to our Suburban, the only thought that ran through my mind was that that woman was a danger to herself and others.  I quickly read and called out her license plate number and then repeated it and asked my daughters to write it down.  I had to do the right thing, to show my daughters that I practiced what I preached, to make sure that no other lives were taken because that poor distraught lady was completely devastated.

The police station was only a couple of blocks away so I drove there.  I expected to be able to just go in, give them the license number and explain the situation and leave.  What I didn’t expect was that when I got there, the door was locked.  Really?  Whatever.  I pushed an intercom button and a lady responded.  I explained the situation and she took down the information.  She told me to wait, someone would be with me shortly.  Because of my MS, I have trouble standing for any length of time so I buzzed her again and said that I needed to sit down.  I could see through the window and door that they had a bench just inside.  She informed me that she was waiting for an officer to be available to talk to me but she did not have the means to let me in to sit down.  I asked if I could go sit in my auto and she said yes, an officer would be with me soon.  This is small town Texas.  My Suburban was parked directly outside of the door to the police station.  There were no other vehicles in the parking lot that had people in them.

I told the girls I would give them 15 minutes.  If no one came to talk to me, we were leaving.  Just before that 15 minutes was up, a police car drove right up beside the building’s door and the policeman went inside.  An older lady was in the police station (beyond the locked door, sitting right on that bench that the dispatcher told me she couldn’t allow me to sit on – lie #1) and the policeman went in, buzzed for the door to be opened (aha, lie #2 – someone DID have the means to open the door).  The policeman and lady were sitting there chewing the fat, occasionally laughing…just having a grand ole’ time.  I was done.  Our 15 minutes were up.  I walked back through the first door and buzzed whomever was on the other side, told her I was leaving.  The policeman then opened the door.  He said he was sent to talk with me but couldn’t find me.  Once again, really (lie #3)?  I looked out the door to my auto and said, gee, I am parked directly across from this door and my auto is the only one with anyone in it – how hard did he really look for me?  He changed his story, then it morphed into a, well, gee, I’m talking to this lady.  Right.  Having a mighty fine personal conversation while there is a report of a potentially dangerous person behind the wheel of her car, driving through the streets without the where-with-all to realize that she was being an unsafe driver.  He then told me he’d talk to me when he was finished talking to the lady on the bench.  I said, “No sir, you will not.  I am leaving.  I gave the talk-box all the information I had.”

As I walked to go out the one door that was unlocked, I turned and looked at him and said, “Just exactly WHO are you sworn to protect and serve?  Based on this intercom and locked door, it’s certainly NOT the average citizen trying to do the right thing.”


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    Scammers Beware

    Never in a million years would I expect to find scammers at our small town’s grocery store.  HEB is a chain of grocers in Texas.  I recall many times, when we lived in Utah and came back home, making my hubby stop at the first HEB after leaving New Mexico…just so I could walk in, look at the store and smell the familiar tortillas being made.  There was not a store like HEB in Utah and we missed it SO MUCH!  I even recall that when my MIL came to Utah to visit us, when we lived there, she would bring us HEB tortillas.

    Anyway, my youngest daughter and I went to buy groceries at HEB one day last week.  While standing in line to check out, a woman approached me and asked me if I was going to pay cash for my groceries.  I said no.  She then asked me if I was sure – while eying my purse in my shopping cart.  I said yes, of course I’m sure.  She was with a man who was standing at the end of an aisle scoping people out.

    When it was our turn at the checkout, I alerted the HEB employee that someone was asking about me paying cash for my groceries.  They had gone to the checkout and I was keeping an eye on them.  Unfortunately, whatever they purchased was not much and they were out of the store before I had a chance to point them out to the checker.  As I was telling my story, a long-time employee was bagging my grocery items.  She had only heard the tail end of what I said so I repeated the story to her.  It was just odd.  I knew something was ‘off’ about it but couldn’t pinpoint exactly what the issue was.

    Both the bagger and I came to the same conclusion at the same time.

    LoneStarCard

    I had read about this scam but had not experienced it and definitely didn’t expect it in our small town.  Scammers will exchange cash and use their own Lone Star cards (formerly known as food stamps) for your food items and take $.50 on the dollar – exchanging your cash for the use of their Lone Star card.  They then use the cash to purchase drugs and/or alcohol.

    Unfortunately, because they left the store before I could point them out, there was nothing to be done about it.  It also made me a bit sad that these types of people had infiltrated our favorite grocery store.  I’m very glad that I wasn’t paying cash for my groceries so I could send her on her way.  Sad but true, scammers are everywhere!


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      Quilting and Social Media (with a little rant thrown in for good measure)

      I was not a big fan of social media.  Perhaps it was the old dog and new tricks thing…but, I even balked at starting a blog seven or eight years ago!  I have had a Facebook account for a number of years…and I specifically got one to meet like-minded quilters as well as quilt professionals, hobby quilters, quilt product manufacturers, etc.  I also found some long-forgotten family members that found my FB page.  Not sure why any of them would want to friend me there since most everything I post is about quilting, though!

      I was perfectly happy with JUST a FB page.  Then, a few years ago, I opened a Twitter account.  I didn’t really personally post anything to it, just let it be an outlet for linking to this blog.  Last year, I ventured a bit further and opened a Pinterest account.  After initially thinking it was a great idea, I read the pros and cons and decided the copyright infringement bothered me a lot so I closed my account.  And if you’ve ever tried to pin anything on this blog, you cannot do it.  I found photos of my family on some very ugly websites…and so chose to turn on the Hotlink Protection so no one can copy my images.  And I stopped posting so many photos of our kids.

      And then, I was gifted with an iPad late last year…and my whole outlook on social media changed.  I could now get an Instagram account.  I could post one photo with text to all three of my social media accounts.  I could just go hog wild with keeping status updates on everything – and I love that about all of the social media!  And I could do all of this from my house instead of taking a photo, bringing it up to my office to download it and then upload it to whatever social media I wanted to.

      Another thing I love?  Knowing that folks care enough to comment, like or re-tweet my posts.

      Then come the brands!  Some companies are so great about sponsoring my quilts and designs and I want to make sure they know I appreciate it.  Abbi Mays Fabric Shop & Aurifil thread are two that immediately come to my mind!  I have also found a couple of companies who I will no longer do business with.  That would be Kona Fabrics and the Warm Company.  Why?  Because I asked them for sponsorship and they ignored me.  Didn’t even have the common courtesy of responding with a no thank you.  Sorry, I won’t purchase their products anymore – not going to happen.  There are a few others who fall into that category but I will reserve outing them, though they have also lost that common courtesy thing with me, too.

      My money will go to those who support my quilting efforts.  And I don’t just take handouts – I purchase the ‘good guy’s’ products via retail markets, too, paying full price.

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      And that’s yet another reason for me to love social media – I can help promote the good guys and just ignore the bad guys.  I *truly* enjoy playing in a sandbox with friends!

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        Grocery Store Packaging Rant

        Our oldest daughter LOVES berry fruit – raspberries, strawberries, blackberry’s, etc.  When she comes home for a weekend from college, I try to have berries in the fridge, just waiting for her.

        This past weekend, she was home and I needed to make a run for the grocery store.  White there, I noticed a disturbing thing – all of the berries had absorbent pads in the bottom of the packages.  WHAT?  When did this become necessary?  My usual MO for purchasing berries is to turn the plastic container over to make sure there are no moldy berries in the package.  With the absorbent pad in there, I could not tell.

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        What am I supposed to do NOW?  How can I feel confident that I am purchasing something that isn’t already moldy???   Oy.

        Lucky for the grocery store, when I got home, I immediately opened the package, looking for mold.  I would not have hesitated to go back to the store and either get a refund or find berries (by opening the package) that weren’t moldy.  After making sure we had a good batch of them, we rinsed them in one part vinegar and three parts water…then rinsed them again in just cold water.  This is supposed to keep them from molding so quickly.  DD#1 was afraid that they’d taste like vinegar – but that didn’t happen!

        Do your berries have an absorbent layer at the bottom of your berries so you can’t see what you are purchasing and ensuring that there is no mold in the package/on the berries?

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          DISHONEST BUSINESS PRACTICES: Barnes & Noble

          If you’ve been a long-time reader of this blog, you may remember that I won a Nook (first edition) in December of 2010 from our local library’s essay contest.  I also spoke about my Nook and how much of a blessing it was with my newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis (MS) – here and here.

          I have spent HUNDREDS of dollars, if not more, to buy eBooks through Barnes & Noble.  I bought my husband a Nook.  A secret Santa bought ALL FOUR of my children Nooks this past Christmas.  I was happily convinced that we were going to be a Nook family.

          I was so very happy with my first generation Nook, but I (selfishly and greedily) wanted more.  I earned a bit extra money this past year and my husband agreed that I could get a Nook Color, since I was not only an avid reader but also because it truly was something that helped me cope with the symptoms caused by my MS.  I loved it, especially when I traveled, I didn’t need to take my computer along as I could check my eMail via my Nook Color.  I rarely went anywhere without it and it continued to help me be able to deal with my MS symptoms.

          About two weeks ago, my Nook Color went wacky.  That’s about the best term I can use for what happened.  It would not charge fully or even partially charge.  It would switch between screens when unplugged – making itself and me crazy enough that it would just shut down completely.  The only time it worked as it should was when it was plugged in – which truly was not a viable solution for me because I wasn’t always near a plugin.

          I had my husband find the receipt for when I purchased it and we took it to the big box office store that we bought it from.  They refused to help me with it, since I did not purchase their extended warranty.

          And let me interject here a thought I had just after this happened – if the extended warranty is at least half of the purchase price of a new product, there were OBVIOUSLY more people having trouble with the product.  I didn’t take that as a warning sign until my psycho Nook Color went on a bender.  You can bet I will ask about the price of an extended warranty before we purchase ANY future electronics in the future!

          I tried the chat help on the BN.com website, but except for some simple manipulations, they could not help me and referred me to the second tier help with a toll-free number for me to call.

          I took the time to call Nook and ask for help on 6/11/2013.  “Roxie” did not speak English very well, which was my first clue that this issue would not be solved to my satisfaction – if I cannot understand a customer service rep, why would I expect her to understand me???  The minute I mentioned the power cord and the inability for my Nook to charge completely, she refused to listen to the rest of my complaints.  I *knew* it was not the power cord, but she insisted on sending me out a new one and asked me to give it three days after receipt to make sure it worked.  I VERY SPECIFICALLY asked if my warranty would be extended because of this issue and she assured me it would.  I asked again, at least once if not twice about my warranty (the original warranty was good until 6/17/2013) and she continued to assure me that she extended the warranty until the issues was resolved.

          After three days with the new power cord, the problem was NOT solved and I called the second tier help line again.  This time, I got someone named “Karina” – date was 6/18/2013.  She told me the warranty was NOT extended by “Roxie” so my Nook Color was no longer covered under the original one-year warranty.  This made no sense based on my communications with “Roxie” (who either lied to me or did not understand me) – but she assured me that it had expired.  I nearly blew a gasket – told her EXACTLY what my conversation with “Roxie” entailed and … wait, I DID blow a gasket.  I was so very upset over the whole ordeal (and for those of you who follow my MS life, stress is one of the biggest factors in exacerbating MS symptoms).  “Karina” put me on hold to talk to a supervisor about extending my warranty to cover the issue that had never been resolved.  When she came back on the phone, she informed me she was authorized to send me a NEW (emphasis added) Nook Color and that I should be receiving it within the week.  I had to agree to send the wacky one back on their dime, which I agreed to.  The kicker was that my NEW Nook Color only had a three-month warranty.  Of course, if you think about it, that let them off the hook much sooner.  I had researched problems with this electronic device and could not keep up with all of the issues it was having.  I now knew the product sucked and I was pretty much screwed UNLESS I had purchased the extended warranty from our local office store.

          Today, I received my NEW Nook Color in the mail.  When we got home, I opened it – only to find this sticker on the end of it (I did open the box so the torn sticker is by my hand, it did not arrive that way):

          IMG_0124 (450x299)

          I am sure you can imagine the colorful language I used when I saw that sticker. My NEW Nook Color was, in fact, new to me – but NOT new from Barnes and Noble!  Why in the heck would I want a pre-owned, refurbished machine that probably went wacko like my original one???  And it probably wouldn’t go wacko until long after that lovely three-month warranty ran out.  This is like purchasing a used automobile and finding out after you took it home that it had been in an accident and that information was never disclosed to you.  This NEW Nook Color will promptly be sent back to B & N along with the wacky one.

          Is this really how to run a business as big a B&N is?  Is it really necessary to LIE to customers?  I am quite a Pollyanna and had the expectation that the B&N folks would follow through with what they promised me.  Land sakes alive, I am extremely unhappy.  I will read the books I already own and save up my money for a Kindle from Amazon or some other tablet that allows for me to read books.  I adamantly REFUSE to be treated the way Barnes & Noble has treated me.  It is not right.  It is a swift kick in my hind end for my blind trust in all things good and I have purchased the last book from Barnes & Noble unless they right the wrongs with me.  I will just re-read the books I’ve purchased and wait for whatever comes next.

          Barnes & Noble, at the very least, you are DISHONEST to at least THIS consumer.  My money will NOT line your coffers anymore – unless you make this right.

          To my friends, please feel free to share this blog post and re-tweet it with as many folks as you can.  My bottom line is that my MS symptoms are in jeopardy and my children deserve to have as much of a mother as I can be – and I need an eReader to be that mom because I’m not only allergic to the print in a book, flipping pages in a book or magazine makes my MS act up and I get extremely dizzy.  It’s not just for entertainment anymore.  Not only has Barnes & Noble lied to me, I believe they are just as liable for my deteriorating health these past few stressful weeks.  Unhappy is as nice of a word I can use to show my disdain for being screwed by a big corporation who has forgotten that customer service and customer satisfaction is what continues to grow a business.

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