Sunday, 28 November 2021

I empathize with Boomers - with apologies to Millennials and younger

Because I've turned into one. Sigh.

We've been replacing appliances recently and let's just say things haven't gone smoothly.

We bought a Samsung Range in January and it started throwing errors when we used it as a pizza oven (480F then cook for 3 minutes). First of all Samsung's website is a mess of broken links. I know because the emails are also a mess of broken links. I put in a repair request for the error code and the ticket was closed with the comment operator error - they actually didn't email me with that information so I didn't find out for weeks🙄 I called to find out what that meant but because I had to swirl around the garbage that is the Samsung website I was pretty out of patience when I finally spoke with a customer service rep. I asked if they were saying I was too stupid to use an oven correctly. The answer turned out to be I was too stupid to be able to use THEIR oven correctly and they weren't going to tell me how to fix that until they had wasted a service call and unnecessarily replaced a control board. They didn't even tell the appliance repair guy until I put in a third ticket for the same thing and I dropped him a text. Turns out you can't preheat a Samsung oven to high temperatures then switch to broil without triggering an error. They could have included that information with the ... oh wait they didn't bother to email me they closed the first ticket.

Next up BestBuy. I ordered a dryer (not Samsung) and a washer showed up. I didn't take possession and called to file a ticket. No email to confirm I had filed a ticket or what reparation steps would be taken. I called every day and got the usual - it's been forwarded to a department, with random tidbits of collateral information. When will I get a replacement? You'll just have to wait; we have to make sure the carrier returned it to our warehouse!?!? By service rep 4 I was livid when they said they had to confirm it was in the warehouse. Keep in mind they had documentation that I refused the delivery so it wasn't at my house. This person insisted corporate HAD to follow their procedure to find the dryer. I said their incident investigation wasn't my problem. They also asked why I would want an email...sure I'm going to trust a company that just delivered the wrong item, still has my money, and forwarded my case to someone in a group who may get sick or quit or whatever and I'm not going to find out until I realize after Christmas that I never heard back because I got busy. But they did tell me that after they take 5 days to investigate they deliver the correct item in 2 days way better than the fuzzy next available truck. Also since I was ready to cancel the appliance they marked the ticket as urgent.

So here's a tip on how to communicate with Boomers. Most of us have know that because you keep asking for it. When you do something with a ticket autogenerate an email with a reference number and details on resolution steps with a timeline. 

As for Samsung and BestBuy - I'm not boomer enough to destroy stuff I already have from them but my new dryer will not be a Samsung product and I likely won't buy appliances from BestBuy again even if, by some miracle, they actually deliver it 2 days after their 5 days to investigate why the wrong product ended up at my house. To be fair - it probably will because I've been an asshole about this entire episode. Not an absolute one because I haven't been asking for discounts and free extended warranty and stuff.

Monday, 18 October 2021

Professionalism, Aging and doing what you love

I trained in medical imaging right out of high school, abandoned it for computers then landed on lab work for a profession. At times it was pretty repetitive and that's when it took skills more than put a sample in an instrument to get consistent results. Did I love it? Was it a "dream job"? No, but I enjoyed how it kept me busy and the pay was ok. And I never had burnout because I didn't expect to be married to my work.

In this age of "do what you love" I thought I give a peek into a day of eldercare so people can say how much they would need to be paid to do this job for strangers who you don't necessarily like.

Keep in mind, to avoid complaints you really need 3 people, one listening all the time avoid accusations of neglect when demands aren't instantly met. He has physical hearing & vision loss as well as selective hearing.

In Canada, we rely a lot on people from cultures of multigenerational families and duty cultures to take care of the elderly in homes. They are short-staffed, not super well paid, and absorb a lot of verbal abuse. What solution does the "do what you love" advocates propose? My dad has a much younger wife who is able to look after him. Her friends spell her off and helped arrange night care but really it would take 2 people to take care of him in waking hours as he has no sense of time but can do the bathroom by himself. 

Now think of all those people who couldn't even handle not having access to hair cuts. Imagine their level of patience with aging...

Monday, 27 September 2021

The value of work as a distraction

My dad is dying.

It's a long slow process where he keeps getting medical interventions (valve replacement surgery, diabetes pills, water pills) that improve his quality of life for a little longer. He's at the age where many of this friends have already passed away, some a lot younger than him, so he has fewer resources. He calls when there are any setbacks just to vent or to hear me say positive things.

As icing on the cake, his wife was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Luckily she's not where I live or they would have delayed her mastectomy as non-essential as hospitals clog with COVID patients pursuing immunity through infection.

I'll admit I've been lucky to have a couple decades of a relatively stress-free life. My mom's death fell along, to me, a predictable path. Since she told me she had cancer by showing me a diagnosis that said it had metastasized to her lungs, I felt anything over 18 months was a bonus. I was working on very interesting projects with a great boss so I could leave quickly as needed to fly home. She was good until she wasn't. She went from getting into a car on her own to go to an appointment to not being able to get out of the car then slipped into a final coma a couple weeks later. And my dad took care of the post mortem details.

This time around, I am still away but without the distraction of work along with pandemic living in an area with a ridiculous 4th wave where there is only ICU space because people keep dying and the knowledge of being the executor with some hard decisions to make. There is no distraction from death and a government intent on overwhelming the medical system to implement private hospitals. Bennie has something going on with his foot and has to wear a cone so he stops licking. It's harder to focus on the good things from being financially secure to having great weather. 

I think the problem is there's nothing I can control...I just have to get over it.

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Sibling Tale

I just got back from visiting family and I feel like it's the first time I've had the opportunity to really talk with my youngest brother. Yep, it only took until he was over 50 and only happened because we were driving somewhere. Since I live away and am almost a decade older I don't think we ever really connected. I was either not there, bailing him out of trouble, or just being distant because he tried really hard to draw on common childhood experiences that weren't common. We didn't even grow up in the same house much less have the same teenage experience since he got to be an only child when the parents were more established. Aging not only puts that at a distance but also gives us other experiences to draw on.

He's always been a different type and has found an appropriate community in his apartment building. When we were younger he used to give away his stuff or shrug off "friends" stealing his stuff, which I have to admit was pretty frustrating as a bystander but has stood him well. He's gradually left those friends behind and found a community in an apartment building where he can walk to most services and has a short work commute. They share stuff and spend time socializing with their neighbours.

He asked about homelessness in my community and I said I don't think we have many. There are shelters, recovery centers, hotel rooms by the month, and most importantly, people aren't particularly anchored here. There also isn't gentrification which forces out long-term low-income residents.

In turn, I asked if he knew a lot of people who took CERB and what rent is like. He said he knew some and most knew to save 25% for taxes in the next year (so much for it being such a surprise to recipients). He's rented the same apartment for a decade so his rent is a lot lower than a newcomer as it's only been raised a few percent a year. As a result, moving from his place to a bigger place in the same building would double his rent and he doesn't really need the space. We also talked about work. I got stable in my late 30s and he did too. He works in lumber and worked his way up on the production side. 

It's interesting the different places we all are in that fifth decade. I'm done working full time and was able to save enough to comfortably live debt-free by staying where we are. Youngest brother also lives debt-free by keeping stuff rather than upgrading unnecessarily (I wish I was like this). Middle sibling was laughing that he's nearing retirement age and in more debt than ever as he's become a business owner. He's way more of a busy personality than either of us who enjoyed going to work to make money then coming home to do other stuff or nothing.

I guess my youngest brother and I have more in common than I thought.

Monday, 26 July 2021

Travel in the 2021 COVID summer trough (BC/AB)

Smokey view as Yard Creek BC
It's been around a year since visiting the parent and in-laws in 2 provinces. Since then there's been a wave and mask mandates were implemented then recently removed. It was interesting to travel and how people are. We live in a small enough town that we never really had to mask up outside and we don't have public transit. We did mask when close contact with people and when outside.

That was then...

We were in the Vancouver area and met up with people we know are vaccinated. We went on the ferry and the workers and some of the passengers were wearing masks, mostly families We went to a couple restaurants and the servers were still wearing masks and I was most comfortable wearing a mask until seated so that's what I did. Even in my brother's shop, he was the only one not wearing a mask when helping customers. Fun anecdote, Fred and I were having coffee outside a Blendz and as I walked to our table a guy called out that he liked my mask 😀 It has seahorses on it, I said thanks.

Things were very different in Alberta...the pandemic is over. Servers aren't wearing masks and neither are patrons. We stayed in a Hilton and there was a shield at the front desk but that's it, luckily you can do everything through the app. The breakfast buffet was self-serve with people milling around, no masks. It was early and I just grabbed stuff and went. I was caught without my mask in an elevator and pretty well stayed in a corner as far as possible from others🙄

I would love to be more comfortable around other people indoors but the government really doesn't want to upset the vaccine-hesitant by restricting their access to venues (even though some of those same people were happy to lock up the elderly and anyone who didn't pretend the pandemic wasn't real🤷‍♀️) Fred is much more comfortable being around others when he forgets his mask. I hold my breath so mask up it is. I put it on before I get out of the car or before I enter a building if I'm walking. Fred asked when I thought I would be comfortable without a mask - a very good question because I do accept vaccines work to reduce my risk. Right now I would be fine working out without a mask because most of the people in my regular classes have gotten vaccinated (we exchanged stories) but I would wear one into class. In public overall? I think once kids can be vaccinated and there's 70% uptake for both shots I'll be happy to treat COVID like it has the same risk as the flu.


Wednesday, 21 July 2021

The trial of aging...and I don't mean my aging

When I started this blog, I was 45 and feeling life was finally settling down and it really has. Aside from getting hit by a car the worse thing to happen to us is the passing of our canine companion. That's likely to change soon as our surviving parents are past their mid-eighties and deal with hearing/vision/mobility loss. It sure seems like life has changed to make things as annoying as possible for them and really shines a light on accessibility.

While we celebrate online accessibility, in no way is this seamless for seniors who don't have someone computer literate to help them. For instance, my dad decided he wanted to donate an old vehicle to Kidney Car - a group I'd never heard of. I had to search, make sure I hit the right link, fill in the information, etc. My dad is vision impaired to the point of near blindness and crusty. His wife is busy working and doesn't seem that good with reading comprehension. This took about 5 minutes to complete but would have taken him ages.

My dad can't easily dial phones so I thought I'd set up an old Google Home for him so he can just ask it to call people. Google seems to use Duo unless you just tell it the number. He doesn't have a cell phone or Google account. His wife doesn't have a Google account. His contacts don't use Duo. This is annoying. We're with Alexa (despite Jeff Bezos) and it just didn't seem as big a deal to set up.

The worse is his hearing aid. I'm pretty convince hearing aids are a big scam. Elderly people keep getting sold hearing aids for thousands of dollars that they use pretty inconsistently because they tickle or their voice echoes or some other reason. Dad's hearing aids came with a plastic remote, but he used his wife to change the volume because it wasn't set up and he didn't have the dexterity to press the buttons. The remote is poorly designed for elderly people with flat buttons that have no click or edge, one little nipple to landmark a programmable middle button that wasn't programmed (probably a good thing).

And I get it, old people are annoyed because things have changed but pretty well nothing is meeting expectations and they can't get it resolved. They don't seem to be able to answer questions and if you can't understand, they just get irritable. And service people have to learn to not to take things personally which can be hard.

We really need a diverse group of designers for all equipment and tools. It can only benefit all of us.

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Canada Day 2021🍁

As a Canadian, I've never felt compelled to celebrate Canada Day in a particular way, especially since it's ALWAYS on the 1st of July and, unlike the US, most people don't take extra days to make a long weekend. Then there's the fireworks show - on the night of the 1st. It can be problematic to attend then go to work the next day. So for most Canadians, it's a day off with the hope for weather good enough to hit the beach or backyard and maybe a local event. For New Canadians, it's a way to celebrate beginnings in a new country.

Our community usually has a family-focused celebration with lots of activities. It's a great way to see how diverse our community has become. Recently we'd started going to the fireworks because we could walk to the event. It was amazing to sit close enough the ash falls on you and be part of the collective oohing and ahhing. Last year they were canceled and this year it's a drive-in event with Facebook activities. 

Also, this year is the driving home of how horribly our indigenous people were betrayed by the government treaties and how Residential Schools inform current indigenous communities. I can only credit the BLM movement with getting us past a collective shrug. One thing about Canada under the current government; dirty laundry is washed in public and apologies, with recognition of wrongdoing, are readily given.

But where do we go from here? Some places have canceled their Canada Day events - probably easy since this planning was in flux due to possible pandemic restrictions. Unless the celebrations were being held on a residential school site, this is performative. We should really be doing something and luckily we have input from indigenous communities through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action

In my (immigrant) eyes, the first step in stopping dehumanizing is admitting your system is biased against indigenous people so it can be stopped legislatively then the slow consistent education of people begins. To me, the minimum is
  • children's remains being returned to their families. 
  • complicit organizations must apologize for their roles in the attempt at cultural genocide. 
  • projects going through treaty land must get band approval. Sure this might affect commercial viability but NIMBY should not be reserved for colonists and their descendants. 
We should elevate National Indigenous Day (or Pre-Canada Day) as a day of accountability and promote Canada's history up to the arrival of Europeans. A good bookend to the school year that starts with Labour Day.