Author Archives: S.A. Jacklin
Running out of Outlets
Wake up. Eat breakfast. Put my mask on and walk to work in the brisk, early morning sunlight of New Jersey. My shift starts at 07:00. As I walk into the hospital, like every day, I am stopped for a forehead temperature scan and asked if I have any flu-like symptoms before proceeding to the ICU. I gather my one N95 mask for the day, a single hair net, shoe covers if available, a plastic gown and a pair of hospital issued scrubs. I reuse my face shield everyday.
I head down two floors to the makeshift ICU. The entrance is blocked off with heavy-duty construction plastic as an attempt to make the OR and PACU ‘negative-pressure’. [COVID can stay airborne for several hours with aerosolization and the negative pressure means particles will flow into the COVID area, not into other surrounding hallways]. This area is filled people, each crammed…
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Pet Peeves: Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD in Fictional Writing
I should start this by saying that this will be a long post. There isn’t a trigger warning here, but this is going to be a bit of a “come to the campfire” meeting. For those of you in the American south, you’ve heard of this under the name of the “come to Jesus” meeting.
For each of us as writers and readers—some of us are both—there are things we each have that are pet peeves in things we read. There’s one big one for me that I don’t generally talk about, but I will today.
That pet peeve is how I see so many authors write a character who has anxiety, depression, or post traumatic stress. I have several friends with PTSD stemming from abusive relationships, trauma experienced from so many sources—be it crime, bullying, their profession, or being a witness to something they couldn’t forget. I myself have anxiety and depression—those two afflictions being unwanted gifts of chronic pain, but that part isn’t what’s important here. The part that is, is that I have personal experience with how anxiety and depression not only twist the mind, but more importantly, how it affects the body.
The things I see so often in writing for a character with anxiety is that they experience a moment of fear or worry and then it’s over, like a click of the fingers. It doesn’t work like that, neither does depression, or PTSD. There are many, like myself, where the anxiety doesn’t even necessarily come with uncontrolled thoughts or wild worry—most of the time, the mind is easiest part to control. But when an anxiety attack hits, what you experience is a wide range of physiological symptoms—racing heartbeat that commonly also has an unsteady pattern; nerve firings in your muscles that lead to lungs feeling compressed, your hands shaking, even your eyes vibrating—not that you feel your eyes vibrating, but you do notice that it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to focus enough to read something no matter how large the print.
Adrenaline floods your system, and you’re left in this heightened state of fight or flight that doesn’t go away until *it* wants to go away. Sometimes that a few minutes, sometimes it’s *hours*–yes HOURS. And when it does finally break, you suffer for it. Headaches, exhaustion, inability to focus or communicate effectively. You almost feel like a zombie. And guess what? “Popping a Xanax” as I’ve seen in so many stories, doesn’t fix it. It might calm you down, but that takes up to 45 minutes to kick in. It’s not immediate.
Depression is a little different. You’d give anything to have that rush of adrenaline when a depressive episode hits because all you feel is listless. The building could fall down around you and you wouldn’t have the energy or drive to move out of the way of danger. The things that mean so much to you—for me that’s writing and reading—you just have no energy at all for. Taking a shower, cooking a meal, making freaking toast, feels like the impossible task. Just getting out of bed to go to the bathroom and come right back to bed after is EXHAUSTING. Most drugs prescribed for depression will help you find a balance, but don’t prevent or even stop the episodes from happening, and they also come with a hell of cornucopia of side effects—from chronic low level nausea to not being able to keep anything down, to gaining 30 or more pounds even when you change nothing at all about your diet at all or change your diet to vegan/gluten-free. The worst part of them all though, are that almost all (90%) antidepressants have a common side effect of suicide thoughts or ideation.
PTSD—that’s its own bag of mixed nuts. And I say that with the greatest respect. Some moments of PTSD can be a dissociative episode where it feels like you’re walking through a dream, completely disconnected from everything around you, and you’re just going through the motions. Other times, your mind can take you back to reliving whatever happened over and over again on a never-ending loop. Some can still do their daily tasks when this happens, others can’t do anything at all. A tap on the shoulder or the slamming of a door can put you into fight mode, the flash of a neon light catching you at the wrong angle or the blaring or a car horn will trigger a memory that you hadn’t thought about in a while—a memory that is more powerful than you are prepared to deal with in the moment. And unlike the movies and TV shows would have you believe, most of the time, you’re not “transported back into that moment”, but those memories do flood your mind until you can think of nothing else.
PTSD never goes away. Let me say that louder for those in the back. It NEVER goes away. You learn to manage your symptoms, you learn to control your mind and your environment, you learn coping mechanisms to keep the episodes you do experience from being so devastating, but it never leaves you. For those of my friends who have support dogs, that dog can sense when their charge is going into a panic attack or a PTSD flare and is trained to help calm them down, to give that person a center balance. For those who don’t have a support animal, their coping mechanisms may look to the neurotypicals (aka “normals”) as being OCD—checking all the locks and windows, looking for points of entry, marking the blind spots and corners covered in shadows.
And, for the record, TRUE OCD is devastating. Much more so than I feel qualified to go into. But I will give you this insight into it. A person with OCD will wash their hands, check the locks, open and close a door multiple times in a row, etc to the detriment of their own personal hygiene, safety, and normal functions of life. If the person stops being able to function normally in society, that is the true definition of OCD. It makes no sense to anyone on the outside looking in, but to that person, if they do not perform whatever task it is, in the exact order it needs to be done, and the exact number of times that they do, there is the belief/fear that something bad will happen—from the house catching fire to someone breaking in to themselves or a family member dying—as a direct result of not performing that task.
The thing I am saying here, and why I’ve offered all of this information, is to please write for accuracy. There is a marked difference between a moment of sadness and depression, a moment of worry and anxiety, learning coping techniques to control your reactions in order to manage your PTSD and actual OCD. Oh, and for the record, some of the most noble professions will have the greatest occurrence of PTSD—ER nurses, firefighters, EMTs, police, federal agents, military personnel—to name a few.
Actors/Actresses, musicians, and entertainers in the spotlight can get PTSD, too. Don’t laugh that off. Instead, think about how you would feel to have every moment of your life under someone else’s microscope, to have people trying to touch you or harass you on the street, break into your home, hack into your accounts, etc. Even for those entertainers like Kate Winslet, Patricia Arquette, Jensen Ackles, Jared Padelecki, Micha Collins, Jason Momoa, Johnny Depp, Jennifer Lawrence, and others who are very open to fans approaching them and speak out about loving to meet them—they, too, can experience trauma from overzealous fans or paparazzo. Hell, remember that John Hinkley Jr. shot President Reagan for the sole purpose of getting Jodie Foster to notice him.
A few resources for you all to check out, use, and save. (And yes, these are only a few of what’s available):
– Title: 20 Tweets That Capture What Anxiety Feels Like
— Link: https://www.health.com/anxiety/what-anxiety-feels-like
– Title: What Anxiety Disorders Look Like in Adults
— Link: https://www.additudemag.com/anxiety-disorders-in-adults-symptoms/
– Title: What an Anxiety Attack Really Feels Like
— Link: https://www.additudemag.com/anxiety-attack-panic-attack/
– Title: 11 Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
— Link: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/anxiety-disorder-symptoms
– Title: Physical Symptoms and Side Effects of Anxiety
— Link: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322510.php
– Title: YouTube: What Anxiety Feels Like—Living with an Anxiety Disorder
— Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYT3BXMIF5o
– Title: The Effects of Depression on the Body and Physical Health
— Link: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322395.php
– Title: The Effects of Depression on Your Body
— Link: https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/effects-on-body
– Title: The Link Between Depression and Physical Symptoms
— Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC486942/
– Title: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Symptoms, Causes, and Risk Factors
— Link: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/156285.php
– Title: PTSD: Five Effective Coping Strategies
— Link: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319824.php
– Title: PTSD Service Dogs
— Link: https://www.pawsitivityservicedogs.com/ptsd
– Title: NIMH: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
— Link: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml
– Title: Obsessed Jodie Foster Fan, John Hinkley Jr., Shoots President Reagan
— Link: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/obsessed-jodie-foster-fan-john-hinckley-jr-shoots-president-reagan
Fact Finding: White vs. Black Open Carry
This was originally posted on my facebook page, and can still be found there, the parties mentioned within tagged.
I will begin this post by saying that I am not someone who runs away from the facts. I may not always agree with the truth, I may not always like what I find, but I do not run from the truth. I am no “delicate snowflake” as the Right always likes to call Liberals and Democrats, and anyone who actually holds the truth and verifiable facts in high esteem. I do not subscribe to the notion of “alternative facts”. The only thing an “alternative fact” is, is a lie gussied up for prom in the dress of someone’s opinion that has been bought and sold like a pig at the county fair.
Now, to get onto what this post is about. Earlier today, I reposted a video from “Occupy Democrats” entitled “White vs. Black Open Carry”. The video is short, but highlights the differences between how a white man is treated when exorcising his right to open carry with an AR-15 versus how a man of color is treated when doing the same. The video, I will admit, is polarizing, but highlights a greater problem facing our nation.
Shortly after posting this video, with my leading tagline calling out that things like this were why people are protesting – such demonstrations as Black Lives Matter, March for Our Lives, and the like – I got into a debate with Dominic.
Do not take my words for what they aren’t. There is no tone here, no anger or upset that it happened. In fact, while I may not agree with his views on some (possibly more than a few) things, I can say with much surprise and delight, that he is the first person that I’ve had a debate with (from the other side of the fence) in a long time who has not only been thoughtful, well spoken, and cordial, but in all the back and forth we did, he never once resorted to the nastiness and hostility that I’ve seen from so many others.
And, before I go any further, Dominic, I’d like to say thank you for that. I honestly didn’t know that there were people still out there like you who could have an open debate in such a manner. No, we didn’t agree with each other on certain things, and that’s fine. If we did, it wouldn’t have been a debate.
Dominic, you challenged me, and I appreciate that, because in answering your challenge, I dug as deeply as I could for the truth. No matter what it comes down to – I want the truth, even if I don’t agree with it. I want facts that I can verify, sources I can prove or disprove. And so I went searching for the truth, and here it is.
In the case of the video on Occupy Democrats.
From what I can find, they shared the video, and while it has their mark in the corner of it on their Facebook page, it does not appear that they were the original authors of that video, as it does not appear on their YouTube page. For those who are unsure what we are talking about, here is the link to the video in question:
Occupy Democrats: Open Gun Carry: White vs Black
The first video that I came across in my research was a review done by The Young Turks. If you haven’t watched any of their videos or debates, I encourage you to do so.
TYT: Open Carry Experiment Exposes Racist Cops [VIDEO]
Now, getting back to the digging and research. The video posted/shared by Occupy Democrats has been cut together to show the contrast in the treatment between a white man and a person of color, and while some may call this inflammatory, we must never forget the racially charged climate of this country. There are those who would try to argue that there is no racism in America, and to those, I call BS.
Through my digging, I found that this one simple video is a mashup of not simply two different videos, but they spanned different dates and different locations – which, yes, Dominic, was one of the things you challenged.
The first video of the white man – men, I should say, as there are three – was recorded and produced by Warren and is on his page “Markedguardian”. It turns out that he made several such videos throughout Oregon, but the one featured in the mashup took place in Albany, OR and was published by Markedguardian on 9 August, 2012.
Albany Oregon Police, Open Carry AR-15 with Individual Libertarians
Now, Markedguardian has several videos on his page regarding open carry, AR-15s, having weapons on his person and fully loaded. I may not agree with his views, but in this instance, my opinion does not matter. This is a fact finding mission and not an op-ed piece. However, from the tone of his videos, the annotations put on his videos, and the comments in the descriptions of his videos, he sounds as though he would be open to having discussions with like-minded individuals, or even people who simply have questions and are open to listening and even debating without bringing judgement. And, if you are the curious sort, I invite you to reach out to him and talk.
The second video, was of Gabriel Nobles, and Markedguardian actually made a video in response to what happened to Gabriel, not only from the video shown in Spark, NV, but also to subsequent experiences that Gabriel recorded and shared. He – Markedguardian – also discusses the gun rights in the state of Nevada as well as the stop & seizure rights/laws. Markedguardian stands up for Gabriel, and I’m proud of him for it because there are those I know who wouldn’t.
Gabriel Nobles, exercising his Right to bear arms in Nevada
This video took place in Spark, NV and was published on 24 August 2013. In all honesty, Gabriel was damn lucky that he wasn’t shot on sight from the reaction the officers had on each of these occasions.
Sparks Nevada Police, Ar 15 open Carry
He made a second video in Washoe County and was published on 27 August, 2013
Washoe County Sheriff’s, Ar 15 Open Carry 1 of 2
Washoe County Sheriff’s, Ar 15 Open Carry 2 of 2
And there you have it. As I said, this post was a fact finding mission, and not only did I find the answers and the truth behind the short video, but now all of you have it as well.
To Myself 20 Years Ago
You’re 14 years old. The world around you doesn’t make sense, and I’m fairly certain it’s not supposed to. There are a lot of people who are going to let you down, and not because they want to, or because they’re mean, but simply because they don’t understand you. They don’t know how to talk to you, and that will frustrate them as much as it frustrates you. You will be yelled at. The people closest to you will question everything about you, calling you any number of things as they try to label you, diagnose you.
They will tell you that you have an addiction to a television show or a movie, never understanding that your undivided focus is because you are studying the character, learning what motivates them, what makes them tick. And it won’t matter what you say to those around you, how you try to explain things, they won’t understand because they can’t. You don’t fit inside any of the molds that they had set aside for you, and the older you get, the more those around you will realize that you’ll never measure up to their expectations, and in many ways, that will disappoint them. And yeah, it’ll even turn you mean.
Just remember this: There is nothing wrong with you. Not a single thing.
You were born with a story in your heart and a pen in your hand. You are a writer, and you were always meant to be a writer. Nothing and no one can change that, though I promise you, many will try. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s wrong, or that you can’t be who you want to be. Do you understand how lucky you are? Most people spend their whole lives searching for their passion and never finding it. But you? You were born with your passion singing in the blood in your veins, speaking to you in whispers from longer than you can remember.
You’ll get a job when you’re 15 because you want the independence that your own paycheck will bring you. Oh, but you will hate that job with a passion and every job that comes after. Even the jobs you get that you’re excited about at first will soon grow tiring, their novelty wearing off in weeks or months. You will spend a lifetime inside the customer service and tech support industries, and through those jobs, the only thing you will learn is that you have lost your faith in humanity. Over and over and over again, you will come to realize that people, by and large, just aren’t worth it.
But then, something rather magical happens, and I promise you it has nothing to do with work. You meet other writers. It takes forever, and at first, you don’t know what to make of it because for once your life, you’ve met someone who understands what it’s like to be you. To be a writer. To be born with a fire in your soul and a story in your heart, and the ability to control neither. Nor should you ever. Writing is as important as breathing to you, it always has been and I promise you, it always will be.
The ideas will begin flooding your mind this year, and it won’t ever stop. Trust me, you don’t ever want it stop. You will learn with every story you write. You develop your voice, and become so much better than you ever thought possible. You will study languages and cultures for the sheer enjoyment of doing so, and while you’re doing it, you will realize that you understand some of your most beloved characters all the better for it.
You will see the world around you the way that it could be, seeing the potential it has and all that it has suffered through to get to where it is. You will fumble through one failed relationship after another just trying to find yourself, only to realize that you have always – and will always – connect better with animals than you ever will with people. And you know what? That’s okay. Embrace that. Celebrate it. And whatever you do, don’t ever apologize for being you.
Life is going to throw you some curve balls. You’ll be filled with self-doubt, grief, more anger than you know how to handle, and you’ll spend a good deal of the time confused, too. Because that world you see inside your mind, that one that’s so real you can touch it, taste it – the one you dream about every night when you close your eyes – no one else can see that world. No one else understands it. And you know what? That’s okay, too.
You’ll meet some people who tell you that they’re a writer, too, and that it’s a nice hobby when they have time for it, and you will know in that instant that they will never understand. Writing isn’t a hobby for you and it never will be. Writing isn’t something you “make time for”. You write every second of every day, regardless of whether you have a pen or a computer handy. The rest of the world, that’s what you “make time for”, because in the end, it’s really not that important, and the true writers you meet. The ones who eat sleep and breathe writing – they get it.
Be weird. Make connections where you least expect to find them. Fall in love with a story and get your heart broken. Learn about two brothers who fight back the darkness together and always keep fighting even when it seems impossible, and take that journey with them. Meet a hanyou and fall into his world, and learn the story of a girl who overcame time itself. Stay up late and write until you can’t even see the computer screen anymore. Go on a road trip and write on napkins and the backs of receipts until your hand hurts from it.
But above all else: Always. Keep. Writing.
The Black Mask
You’ve seen it advertised on Facebook, you’ve seen the videos circulating Twitter, Tumblr, and other social media pages. This mask is touted as being the one stop shop for cleaning your pores. Don’t pop the pimple, remove it by using The Black Mask. You can even order your free sample from a link on their Facebook page.
Some think this sounds too good to be true, others roll their eyes and say that there are other masks out there that are similar. For those, who’ve tried it, they swear by it, even getting their male counterparts or friends to try it, usually with rather amusing results, especially when the user simply tries to rip off the mask like a band aid. (Side note: Don’t ever do that with any kind of face mask.)
Well, I’m here to tell you that I’ve tried it. Before I tell you if it lives up to the hype or not, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am a tom boy – not the rolling in the mud, dirt bike racing, extra in a Gretchen Wilson music video tomboy – just the standard jeans and t-shirt wearing, couldn’t care less about hair and make up kind of tomboy.
My makeup regime consists of a tube of liquid lip gloss from Bath & Body Works, and the occasional application of lotion when my skin gets alligator leather dry. I’ll do a face mask once every 6 months, if I’m lucky, and if I use a facial scrub, I do so in the shower because I’m not going to take the extra time out of my day to stand in front of the mirror and rub something on my face. That’s just not who I am.
After about two months of seeing the same post shared in my newsfeed regarding the black mask, and giggling at the video of the guy making a fuss about it – and silently calling him a wuss – I decided to try. What can it hurt, right? And it’s a free sample, so, it wasn’t like I was out any money for the deal, either. After a few weeks, the little tube arrived in the mail and my other half and I both slapped it on – the sample contains enough for about three applications.
No, I don’t know what my other half thought, because I didn’t ask her, but I will tell you my experience.
The Black Mask glides on smooth – thick – but smooth. It dries in roughly 30 minutes, unless you’re like me and end up with glops in places because you didn’t take the time to smooth it all out and make it a uniform thickness. I did say that I normally don’t care about these things, didn’t I? Any who, when it dries, it freaking dries!
I couldn’t move my face! I actually found that quite hilarious. (I am easily entertained by the oddest things.) Now, when I usually use facial products – soaps, scrubs, masks – peel of or mud – etc, I almost always end up with my skin reddened and irritated over the bridge of my nose, my cheeks, and occasionally my forehead. It happens with everything I’ve used, so I just stopped caring about it and accepted that irritation as a fact of life.
Guess what? I had zero – ZERO – skin irritation with The Black Mask. When I peeled it off – slowly, for those of you who haven’t used peel off masks before – I could feel it cleaning my pores, pulling out the gunk that is invariably in there. Oh – by the way – on the back of the tube, it says that you’re supposed to wash your face before applying it. Yeah, I didn’t see that until after, and as it turns out, you don’t really need to. That stuff cleans hella good! And the best part – no discomfort, no skin irritation, no lasting feeling of something being on your face, and – if you go slow and carefully – you can take it off all in one piece and totally gross people out when send you them a picture of it. I did tell you I was easily amused by odd things, and you’re reading this, so you signed on for this crazy train.
In summary, I highly recommend this product, and coming from someone like me who really couldn’t care less about skin care – that says a lot. Buy it. Try it. Love it. The Black Mask.
Emotions Pt. 2
This article comes in the wake of a conversation with a friend of mine. I should have her guest posting on here as she has a good deal of thought provoking commentary to share as well as personal insight to some of the issues being raised right now in this country politically. I just have to figure out how to turn this thing on for guest posting.
“Emotions Part 2” comes not a redaction or corrective footnote, but rather as a second half to what came first. An epilogue to the prologue, if you will.
As you’ll recall from the original post, Emotions, I spoke about not being as emotionally expressive as most, and more specifically, about not crying at most things, and really only crying for certain movies. And, if you haven’t read the original article, go back and do so. This Pt. 2 will make more sense if you’ve read the first part.
Alas, I digress. The friend I was speaking with is a very talented writer, she’s actually quite well known in some circles, and I highly recommend that you read her works. (They can be found on MediaMiner and Archive of Our Own under the author name “Sueric”.) She had read my post, and remarked that I stated I only cried at movies, and asked if that meant I didn’t cry for books. As a writer and an avid reader, she feels that the written word holds more power, and I do agree with that. I agree with that completely.
Then why did I say I only cried at movies?
Because the difference between an emotional response to movies versus books/written works for me is staggering. With a movie, I might shed a few tears, and then once that scene is over, or the movie has ended, that’s it. The emotion is gone, it’s done, and I’m back to my normal coldhearted self. Books, however, are a different beast entirely.
When I read a book, or series of written works, that provokes an emotional response from me – in this case we’re talking about crying, here – it’s never as simple as a few tears. There’s the buildup of emotion, the way my breath catches in my throat, my heart constricts in my chest, my thoughts still. I feel a tingle run up my spine, I get goosebumps, and the world around me just falls away. I take that emotional ride with the character, falling into their hearts as if I am the character. The tears evoked for me are heavy, they hurt my heart as much as they sting my eyes, they fall down my cheeks, and fall onto the page, or the computer. And where you may only see a few physical tears from me, it is the equivalent of seeing anyone else sitting in the corner bawling as they hold onto the book, or stare at the screen through tear-blurred eyes.
That emotion, those scenes, that feeling I get from the character and the words evoked, stay with me for hours – sometimes, even days. I feel as though I’m seeing the world around me through the eyes of the character I’ve been reading – whether that’s Kagome Higurashi, Gin Zelig, Kurt Drevin, Samantha Izayoi, Saori Senkuro, Hazel Grace Lancaster, Billy Colman, or a whole host of others.
So, after saying all of this, would I say that I cry when I read an emotionally heavy scene in a book? No, because for me crying simply means that I’ve gotten misty eyed and it’s ended as soon as it began. So, no, I don’t cry when I read a story. I become the story, and to me, that’s an incredibly powerful thing – more powerful than “crying” can define. And if you have the power to evoke that kind of a response in your readers – especially me, then my dear, you have a gift unlike any other.
As a footnote: Billy Colman is the protagonist from Where the Red Fern Grows. It’s an old book – 1960’s era publication with a story time set in the 1940s. It’s a good book, and if you haven’t read it, I suggest that you do.
10 Things Customer Service and Technical Support People Want You to Know
There are many things we take for granted in this world, things we do without even thinking about them. We wake up and take our phone off the charger, check our messages, our emails, open up our social media apps to see what’s happened while we’ve been asleep. It’s a connected world we live in, with so much at our fingertips, that we tend to take forget that the people we talk to on the phone, or in person at the store are actual human beings.
For the past nineteen years, I have worked in customer service and technical support, directly assisting people both in person and over the phone. I have seen people when they are excited about something new – whether that was a new piece of technology, or an adventure they were taking, I have also worked with people who are on the other end of the spectrum and dealing with unfortunate circumstances. But throughout it all, there are a few things that remain the same, things that customer service/tech support agents want you to know and take to heart.
- We don’t make the rules, and no means no.
When we tell you that we can’t do what you’re asking us to do – whether that’s giving you something for free, returning something that is well past it’s return by date, or replacing a device when the issue is user error – we really can’t do it, and pushing the issue only makes us want to hang up on you.
- Just because you read it online, or heard it from a friend, doesn’t make it real.
There are many stories – hoaxes – that have been circulating the web for the past several years that include such falsehoods as “download an app to your phone and put it in the microwave to charge the battery to full in 2 minutes” and “warm your frozen computer safely in the oven on warm” or even the most widespread one shared by word of mouth: “if you scream for a manager loud enough and keep yelling, they will give you whatever you want”.
None of these things are true at all, and point of fact, for most ovens “warm” is between 150 – 200 degrees and at those temperatures, you will be frying whatever electronic device you’re dumb enough to put in the oven.
- Cursing at us won’t get you anywhere.
In fact, most customer service/tech support companies have rules set in place to protect their employees from customer abuse. If you start cursing at us, and we ask you to stop, but you won’t, more often than not, your call will be disconnected.
- We can’t refund your lack of common sense.
A defective product – within its return by date – can be returned for a refund or exchange. A service that went unused, or you forgot to cancel, can usually be returned under specific conditions (for example, returning the previous month’s subscription charges). Something purchased by accident, can usually be returned. But things that your common sense should have told you NOT to do – like purchasing visa gift cards and providing the card numbers to someone over the phone in order to purchase a product you haven’t seen, or sending money by wire transfer in order to get prize money from an international lottery, or paying for a specialty VPN with digital music gift cards – these are things that cannot be refunded.
Just remember this rule of thumb: If it sounds hokey, it probably is hokey.
- The only person who is responsible for your device or information being lost, is you.
When it comes to data, there are a multitude of back up options available, from connecting your device to a computer to download the information through a backup system, to saving your information to cloud storage, to using a media card, or external hard drive to backup your information. Digital data, even if backed up, can be corrupted. If there are important photos or contacts you don’t want to lose, make hard copies of that information and keep them somewhere safe. Don’t wait until it’s too late to search for the things you don’t want to lose.
As for a device, most phones, tablets, music players, even some eReaders, have native tracking software and location tracking apps that can be downloaded as well as options for securing the device through passcodes, passwords, or other such digital locks. Be responsible for your own devices and make certain that they are secured and that you have a way of locking your data, and if you don’t know how to do it – look it up, but don’t expect someone else to do it for you.
- We are not your punching bags.
Everyone has bad days, and we understand that, but that person on the other end of the phone, or standing in the store you’re visiting, is not there for you to take your frustration out on. If you’re in a bad mood, take a deep breath and reset, calm down, and then call in, or go to the store.
- We may be an employee, but we are not your employee.
On of the most common attitudes that I’ve gotten from people over the years can be described as this: “You have a job because I bought the products your company sells, and since I have a problem, that makes you mine to command.” No. Flat out, hard stop, get off the crazy train, the answer to that is NO. Just because you bought whatever shiny bauble you have, that does not in any manner mean that you somehow own the person you are talking to. And on that note, if you treat your employees the way you treat the people you talk to when calling in for tech support, it’s a miracle you have a business at all.
- Don’t waste our time.
Despite popular misconception, we know when we’re being lied to. Trust me, we’ve heard it all, from ‘I lost my device because my wife went into labor’ to ‘there is a demonic entity living in my phone’ to ‘I bought the TV/computer/device/etc a year ago, but I just opened it today’ to ‘I never got a receipt because the printer was out of paper’. On that last one, believe me, there is always more register tape, and in more recent years, there’s an email option.
Set aside at least 30 minutes, if not more depending on what the issue you’re having is. Don’t call us up, or come into a place of service, and get mad when something takes more than 10 minutes to work on. There are some issues that have taken upwards of 4 hours to resolve. Wasting our time, only wastes yours in return and leaves both parties frustrated and annoyed.
- Yes, you do have to put in effort.
Despite what you might think, there’s no magic button on our side that allows us to somehow make your device work again. There are steps we will need you to take, sometimes, we’ll even need you to repeat those same steps multiple times throughout the troubleshooting to test for a resolution. Depending on the reason for your call/visit there may even be scripted information that we have to read to you, and scripted questions that we are required to read and get answers to. Rushing us, or telling us to “skip it” gets you nowhere. Believe me, we don’t want to read it anymore than you want to listen to it.
- This is the most important one, folks, so listen up! The way you treat us is in direct relation to the way we treat you and the support you get as a result.
You know that old saying “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar”? It’s true. Remember it. Take it to heart, and practice it in everyday life. If you are nice and respectful to us, we are much more willing to go above and beyond for you. On the contrary, if you start yelling, belittling, or disrespecting us, we’ve already decided to do only the barest minimum required to resolve your issue because the only thing we want is to get you away from us as soon as possible. So, be nice, be patient, be respectful, and you’ll find you’ll have a much better experience.
As long as you keep these 10 things in mind, especially number 1, you will not only improve your day, but help make the day better for someone who usually only gets the crap end of the deal.
Procrastination. Oh, my friend, I know thee well. When it comes to writing, or doing something that I don’t particularly want to do, I will find just about anything to do instead. Now, for most normal things, I will eventually suck it up and do it, but when it comes to writing . . . Oh, when it comes to writing . . .
I love writing. It is as essential to me as breathing, and if I go without writing for too long, I get cranky. Hell, I even get downright mean. But there are times when the words just won’t come, or where I know exactly what the scene is that I want to write, but I can’t get it to come out on paper the way I see it in my head. And, so what do I do? I avoid it. I have been known to clean my entire house from top to bottom, including steam cleaning the carpets, simply because I am fighting with my muse.
But then, the writing I’m doing now, is different. This isn’t the fiction work that I’m used to doing. It isn’t the flights of fancy with the crescendo of action and emotion, drama and suspense, that eventually leads to the harmonic suite of woodwinds and strings, the love song and finale where all is right with the world. Instead, this writing is what amounts to running scales and breath exercises. (Did I mention that used to be involved with music? I was a flautist in primary school.)
I still enjoy it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not quite the same. This is a touch more formal, less freestyle and more . . . structured. Not that there’s anything wrong with structure, per say, but it’s like telling an abstract artist to paint by numbers.
I’m trying to get myself more used to writing in this manner as I’ve been looking into writing opinion articles for journals and newspapers. It feels odd to try to write for a newspaper knowing that I’m not a journalist, and have never been formally trained as one.
There are voice out there, Tom Brokaw and Anderson Cooper, to name a few, that I greatly respect and admire, and to me, that’s what a journalist should be. Someone who researches their stories, fact checks the information, goes straight to the horse’s mouth, as it were, for the inside scoop.
But that’s not me, and maybe that’s why they call those articles ‘opinion pieces’. They know that the author isn’t a professional journalist, and while held to a certain level of responsibility, you’re not held to the same level of accountability. Cognitively, I understand this, but it’s still odd. Maybe it always will be.
In all the information I’ve found about writing these pieces – opinion based missives – everything has said to write about what you know, but I keep finding myself asking: What do I really know? Well, let’s take a look at that together, shall we?
Since I became a member of the workforce back when I was fifteen (and dinosaurs roamed the earth), I’ve worked in customer service and technical support. I work closely with people. People. Well, that’s something to offer, isn’t it? So, what has working in those fields taught me about people?
In short, it’s taught me that the American culture is downright willfully ignorant, happily disrespectful, and so damn self-centered and narcissistic that they have no concept that the person behind the sales counter, at the register, or over the phone is, in fact, another human being. I pray for the days that I get someone on the phone from another country. Do you know how sad it makes me to realize that I am shown more respect over the phone by a person calling in for technical support from Egypt, or India – even Qatar – than I am by someone calling in from Illinois who is a born and raised American?
I see in the news and in the papers about all of these people yelling at immigrants to get out of this country – to make America great again – and all I want to do is yell back at them that they are the problem. Not the immigrants. Not people visiting our country. Not people of color who have been born and raised here.
I will be completely honest, with you. I am a white Anglo-Saxon 6th generation American woman, born in the Midwest, raised in Florida, and now living in the Pacific Northwest, and more often than not lately, I find myself ashamed to admit any of that. I have always loved this country, but not its people, and certainly these days, not its government.
The voices of hate and intolerance that are shouting louder than ever before, seem all too happy to forget the truth. Or maybe, they’re just content to ignore it and pretend that the history they’ve fabricated is what is real.
What is now known as the United States was not a barren unsettled country until white men appeared on her shores. This country was home to the Native Americans for thousands of years before Europeans ever even knew it existed. There were hundreds of Native American nations – some peaceful, some not – but this was their home, and their once great numbers are now only a shadow of what they once were.
Christopher Columbus did not “discover” America. He stumbled upon it, crashed into it, all while looking for India. Basically, he was stumbling around in the dark, blind and drunk, and stuck his flag where it didn’t belong. Sound familiar? Then in the early to mid-1600s, English refugees came to the shores of what is now Massachusetts. They were kicked out of England for being radical religious extremists. So, what did they do? They boarded a boat, set out to sea, and immigrated illegally to what would later become the United States.
Yeah, I said it, and I’ll say it again. The country you know today was founded by illegal immigrants who were religious extremists. But not just that. Did they even attempt to live peacefully with the native peoples they found?
Instead of trying to learn and understand the culture of the natives, instead of trying to learn their language, and make peace with them, the white settlers – those illegal immigrants (Oh, you can bet I’m going to keep saying it.) decided to take what was never theirs to start with. The Puritans raided the villages, gunned down the native peoples, and when that wasn’t enough to satisfy their bloodthirst, they offered tribes “gifts” of dolls and blankets and so many other things that they knew were infected with diseases like small pox, yellow and scarlet fevers, things that the native peoples had no immunity to because those things didn’t exist before the Puritans brought it to them.
Mass shootings. Biological warfare. Willful torture of humans and animals. Rape. The slaughter of women and children. The suppression and destruction of other cultures. The intolerance of other religions. Setting fire to homes and farms. Terrorism at its finest. That, [white] America, is what the truth of your culture is, and if you want to shout at other people to go back to where they come from, why don’t you look in a fucking mirror first.
It took almost 150 years for the Founding Fathers to rise and to say “enough is enough”. They fought for religious and cultural freedom. They made a clear separation of church and state. They created the constitution. And it is the freedoms that they helped fight for that so many are all too willing to ignore now.
So, in short, what have I learned from my experience in customer service and tech support? Americans, by and large, are disgusting human beings. But sometimes, just sometimes, on a rare day, you can meet one person who might bring you the slightest glimmer of hope. And while it may not be enough to offset all the bad, it’s just enough to allow you a little breathing room, to remember why it is you want to fight for something better.
It’s been a few days since I’ve written anything here, hasn’t it? I didn’t really have anything planned for today, but a recent argument with my other half solved that particular issue. In order to protect their privacy, I shall not be naming names, or using pronouns such as he/she, but instead, will simply say them/they/their. I’m sure that some of you will try to sort out which gender my other half is, and for those sleuths reading this, have at it. For those of you who know me in the real world, you already know the answer.
The topic of our argument is one that seems to be repeating itself far more frequently – emotion. Or as my other half would argue – my seeming lack of emotion. Now, that’s to say that I don’t have emotions, or that I’m a robot, neither or which are true. I am a writer, and – while I know it’s different for each person – for me, my writing is where I put my emotions. Through the words I write and the scenes I craft, I can make you feel the true depths of the emotions the characters experience. I can fill you with hope or joy, or make you suffer under the weight of doubt and agony.
I should also say, that my other half knows this about me and enjoys reading my writing, but their issue is that I don’t express emotion in real life. I don’t get upset enough about something to cry. I don’t show fear or uncertainty. I don’t have extended periods of silliness and childlike behavior. I’m steady. Or, as they would say, I’m an emotional flatline.
Now, I don’t really care if someone calls me an emotional flatline, a Vulcan, or even a robot. It doesn’t bother me, because I know who I am and I know what I feel. I don’t really give a crap if anyone else knows what I’m feeling or not. But my other half would argue, that that is the entirety of their issue.
Do I get frustrated? Yes. Do I cry because I’m frustrated? No. Do I yell or pitch a fit because I’m frustrated? No.
So, what happens when I’m frustrated? I look at the issue from all sides until I find a viable solution and then, I enact that solution. Okay, that doesn’t seem so bad.
But, that bothers my other half. Why? Because they can’t tell when or if I’m frustrated. And more to the point, they get annoyed and even, at times, downright offended that I won’t show my frustration. Well, here’s my side of that. If I am frustrated, it usually only lasts until the moment I’ve found a solution, and that might only be a few seconds. So, why on earth would I over exaggerate an emotional response that doesn’t even have a half-life of thirty seconds?
And there’s the crying thing. They always make it a point to tell me that they know other people who are steady and can still cry. Insert heavy sigh here. I’m not a crier. I’m just not. The only times I have cried, and it was a little bit more than being misty-eyed, was during movies.
A Dog’s Purpose. Hachi. Marley and Me. Hacksaw Ridge. I will admit to crying during those at some – or even multiple – points.
My other half’s argument to that? I don’t cry during Steel Magnolias. Nope, don’t really find that movie sad. Their other argument: I don’t cry in response to real-life situations. No, I generally don’t. I don’t cry out of frustration. I don’t cry because I’m not getting my own way. I don’t cry if I’m happy. I don’t cry at funerals because I’ve had time to adjust to the fact that the person is – or will eventually – die.
There are those who would argue that I’ve never lost anyone suddenly, and they would be wrong. I have lost one family member – a first cousin – to suicide. But no, I did not cry for her. That’s not to say that I didn’t love her, because I did, but that is to say that I knew how much pain she was in and that no matter what was tried, that pain never went away.
Did I get to attend her funeral, no. She lived in another state, and I wasn’t able to get there, but that’s okay. A funeral is for the living, not the dead, and I said goodbye to her in my own way.
For the religious ones reading this, you may argue that she’s in Hell right, but I don’t believe that. I believe that she’s finding her peace, and will perhaps even be reincarnated to live another life. I don’t believe that suicide is a sin. I don’t believe in eternal damnation. And no, I’m not indoctrinated into a belief system of absolutes and heaven or hell.
I will admit that I am more likely to cry at the passing of an animal than I am that of a human, but that is simply who I am. An animal has a purity to them, a soul that is not weighed down by ulterior motives or deception. What they desire in life is simple. They want to love and be loved. They want to be petted, to be held, to be cherished, and they want to give that in return. Humans are another story.
Fear, is another big one. My other half made it a point to argue that I don’t show fear. Here’s the thing about fear and me. When I feel afraid, I ask myself this: What is it that I am afraid of, and why do I fear it? Nine times out of ten, the answer is “because I don’t understand it”. My response to that? Let’s do a little research. Let me learn about this thing that makes me uncomfortable and see if I’m still afraid of it, after getting some knowledge under my belt. A little knowledge can go a long way.
Now, what about the argument of someone holding a gun in my face? In that instance, I can tell you that fear would very quickly turn to rage and sarcasm. I don’t handle being threatened well and will respond rather energetically to that threat. Usually in the ball park of punching someone in the face.
Uncertainty? Nervousness? I feel those same emotions just as anyone else does. The only difference, is that I see no purpose in saying so out loud, or displaying that emotion. There is no benefit to doing so, no logical reasoning for it, other than to show someone else that you feel that way, and at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. Take a deep breath, face whatever it is that has you all twitchy, and do so with grace.
How about excitement? Surely my other half doesn’t have a problem with that. Oh, but they do. You see, for my other half, when they are excited they show that excitement physically, though what I have dubbed the “I’m a Little Teapot” dance. That’s perfectly fine. That’s how they show excitement. But I don’t, and that’s the problem they have.
I don’t bounce around, or smile like a maniac, or get overly emotive because I’m excited. Personally, I find such emotions exhausting. If I’m excited about something, I show interest in it. Simple as that. I might be a little more energetic than I usually am, or may be more likely to run out ahead of everyone else, but that’s about it.
Lately, within the past year or so, my other half has become increasingly put out that my emotions go into my writing, and that I don’t “share” my emotions with them. This is not something that has changed, I have been this way since before we met, but now it’s become a problem for them. And why, might you ask? Because in some manner, they have said that they feel that I don’t connect with them since I can’t show them my emotions. Not everyone displays emotions, and not everyone feels them to the same degree. This is something my other half seems unwilling to understand, and what drives me batty the most, is that when we do argue about this, they act as though displaying the emotions they have makes them better than those who don’t. And that’s just bullshit.
Yes, the fight I had with my other half is what inspired today’s post, but I’ve said all of that to say this: No two people react to emotion in the same way. There are those who are steady, but still emotionally expressive, while there are others who are steady and emotionally unexpressive. And there are, of course, the drama kings and queens, as well as those who simply don’t know how to not feel, and not show what they’re feeling. I don’t care which one you are, and you shouldn’t care which one someone else is, either. Different people react differently. Accept it and get over it.