June, 2018

robbery

I asked a woman I work with the other day what she did before she retired. We work different shifts and don’t often see each other. Maggie said she worked at a bank for 43 years. She started at the bottom and worked her way up to assistant accountant. She loved her job and always worked in the same branch her whole working life.

One day a couple of guys came into the bank and one pulled a gun out and pointed it at a teller and told her to collect all the money that was in the drawers of all the tellers and put it into the bag he was holding. Everyone else had to lie down on the floor. There was a guy at the door and a guy in a car outside, ready to drive the robbers off after they collected the money. She said that if they didn’t do what the guy said she was sure they would be shot, so she lay down on the floor.

I said “How much money could the robbers possibly expect to collect? There couldn’t have been that much in the drawers”. She just looked at me for a minute and said “This happened in 1975”, and waited for the penny to drop, so to speak. “Ahh” I said, “before debit cards and ATM’s”. She smiled and said “before computers calculated the service charges and interest on your bank statements. That was my job, to post everything”.

Just at that moment my boss came in and asked me if I had counted the cash and how sales were going and I had to jerk myself back into this century. I had completely lost track of time and had to leave, without hearing the rest of the story.

June 6, 2018

soldiers

Yesterday I helped a woman named Elke figure out how to use a program she had installed on her computer. Afterwards we started chatting and she said she was the youngest of 8 children. I said “Ah the baby of the family, the best place to be”.  She is from Germany and emigrated to Canada in 1956. When she arrived here to meet her older sister she didn’t speak a word of English or French. How much courage that must have taken to take that leap. She described trying to shop for groceries and acting out what she wanted to find. There were no young men left in Germany she said so her sisters all married much older men.

Then she recalled the story of her older brothers. The oldest one was drafted when he was 18, in 1942. He became a pilot. His plane crashed and he burned to death. Her next oldest brother, Hans, was drafted the following year. There was no way around it. All the 18 year old boys in Germany were drafted. Hans was captured by the Russians and sent to Siberia to cut trees. He had an accident and a tree hit him and broke his back. The soldiers guarding the prisoners took his body and threw it on a pile of dead bodies. Another prisoner, a doctor, checked later and found that Hans was not dead, just paralyzed from the waist down. Somehow he managed to keep him alive and get him shipped to East Germany. Later he was smuggled into West Germany, back to his family, under a pile of straw on a farmer’s wagon.

He had some wooden supports made and strapped them on and managed to get around with crutches.  The supports rubbed his skin raw but he never complained. And he never talked about the war. He opened a garage, repaired cars, sold gas, and met a woman. They married and had a child. Elke said it was a miracle baby.

The baby is a miracle, of course, but I’m not sure that that is the biggest miracle in this story. There aren’t many people left alive who can talk about the horrors of WWII.

New Blog Subject

After 3 years I have quit my cashier job. I worked with some really great people, had a great boss but standing in one place all day and working different hours every day was not working for me health wise. I will miss all the great conversations with my customers a lot. So thank you for giving me the job when I really needed it.

For now I will write about things I find amusing and I hope you can avoid some of the pitfalls that have found me.

September 2017

The battery died on my iPhone 5S after 18 months and I was so mad, I hadn’t even finished paying for it. The Apple store wanted $100 to install a new battery. That would have been money well spent, as it turns out.

So I bought a Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 and am having a lot of trouble figuring out how to make it do even the simplest things. For the first two weeks I kept pressing the off button while trying to adjust the volume as the buttons are opposite each other and it’s an easy mistake to make. I bought a case and that solved the problem (Heads up $40 at the Koodo Kiosk or $7 on Ebay).

After updating the software on the phone I could no longer see the phone when I plugged it into my laptop (running Windows 7) so I had to email myself photos which is time consuming. I went to the Samsung website where a very helpful online chat person pointed me to the page http://www.samsung.com/ca/support/app/smartswitch/ where I downloaded Smart Switch which allows me to view all the files on my phone. This never showed up on any of several Google searches. So this problem is now solved. (See below)

One good thing about this Samsung phone, the period and number keys are on the same page as the regular keyboard.

I’ve owned this stupid phone for 6 weeks now and still haven’t got it figured out. Today I decided to create a ringtone because several people have told me the one I have sucks. I plugged my USB cable into the computer and my phone, I heard a sound and then an error message appeared on the phone saying that this device cannot be accessed using this cable try another one or another USB port. I try them all and nothing works. The Smart Switch software that I installed before no longer works. I waste an hour trying various solutions suggested by searches on Google and still nothing. Last resort I go to the Samsung website and at 11 o’clock at night start chatting with Shawn who has me do several things and after 45 minutes he says I need to take it to a dealer for service and I’m thinking there goes another whole day wasted on this stupid phone when he says try this… and (drum roll) it works. No one was more surprised than me, except maybe Shawn. He seemed quite thrilled. So after saying thank you I got to fill in the survey about how my customer service experience was. I have to say I wrote that Shawn persevered until the problem was solved and should be given a raise. I wish all online chat was as helpful as that guy. Thanks Shawn. Here is a copy of the transcript in case you need this information.

Un-plug the phone and perform below steps.
Carol: ok
Shawn:1.From the phone (Dial pad), dial *#0808# and then tap on the call button
Shawn: 2.You will see the following options: MTP, MTP+ADB, PTP, PTP+ADB, etc.,
3.Select "MTP" or "MTP+ADB" option from the above list and tap on OK
Carol: ok
 Carol: should i plug it back in?
 Shawn: Yes, now please plug-in the phone to PC.
 Carol: nothing
 Shawn: May I know the IMEI number of the phone?
 You can find it under settings>>about device>>status>>IMEI info
 Carol: IMEI<>**************************************<>/font>
 Shawn: In this Case, the device needs to be physically examined at our service center.
 Shawn: Do you have the purchase receipt?
 Carol: Of course. I just bought it recently. It has never worked and I've tried to return it before.
 Shawn: Did you enable USB debugging option?
 Carol: How do i do that?
 Shawn: Go to settings>>about device>>build number>>tap on built number for 7 times
 Carol: I can only find about phone
 Shawn: Then go back to settings>>tap on Developer options>>turn it ON by tapping on the toggle switch
 Shawn: Tap on about device and find for Build number>>and tap on it for 7 seven times
 Shawn: About phone*
 Carol: in developer options I found usb debugging and turned that on
 Shawn: I'm sorry for the delay. I'll be right with you.
 Carol: What next
 Shawn:Now connect the phone to pc.
 Carol: It makes a noise and says it is installing a driver
 Shawn: Awesome it seems to work now please wait until the drivers are installed and later check if you can find USB charging option.
 Carol: Holy **** that worked!

So the next time I try to connect my phone to the laptop I get a message on the phone again saying “The connected device is unable to access data on this device”. It shows it’s charging but I cannot view any files. This time I go to the Device Manager and uninstall the driver (which has a yellow exclamation point next to it) and reboot, the driver reinstalls and the phone is detected.

3 times I tried to look at my files (photos and ringtones) and 3 times it didn’t work. But it is working now. On my iPhone it never worked period.

How to select text with a phone:

  1. Long-tap a word to select it on a web page.
  2. Drag the set of bounding handles to highlight all the text you want to copy.
  3. Tap Copy on the toolbar that appears.
  4. Tap and hold on the field where you want to paste the text until a toolbar appears. This can be the URL bar or any text field.
  5. Tap Paste on the toolbar.

So here’s something else I didn’t know about the Samsung Galaxy A5 2017, when you turn it face down you mute all incoming calls and alarms. I was wondering why I hadn’t had any calls for a couple of days when I checked my messages and there were 12. Hmmm… So the way to set this up is in Settings −>Advanced Features–>Easy Mute. Easy as pie once you figure it out.

Nothing is easy on this phone.

July 20, 2017

Children in an iron lung 1950

Only 6 weeks until the big Fair marking the end of summer. This summer has had the worst weather that I can remember, one day rainy and cold, next day really hot and humid, never comfortable. I’ll bet we’ve only had 5 good days all summer, at least that gives everyone something to grumble about. Today my landlord came over and was talking about the Fair. I said I had only missed going one time in the 26 years that I’ve lived here. He said he only missed going one time in his whole life. His Momma wouldn’t let any of the kids go the year that the poliovirus was going around. The kids begged and pleaded to be allowed to go but she held her ground. Word was you could catch it if you were hanging around in a crowded place so no way were those kids going. Those kids must have been pretty disappointed since even now kids wait all summer for this event. The midway rides are so exciting and so different from day to day life. Each year his parents had packed a picnic lunch and taken the family to the fair. They weren’t wasting their money on over priced Fair food. A penny saved is a penny earned. Whatever happened to that philosophy? Yes I’m talking about $300 trainers and tattoos.

Then he said something even more remarkable. “You can catch the poliovirus from peach fuzz”. What? I had to Google this information. Apparently a lot of mother’s believed this to be true. So it’s been 60 years since the polio vaccine was invented, it’s been 20 years since the last case of polio in Canada so that’s something to celebrate. And as far as eating a peach goes…. there are loads of other fruits out there so why tempt fate.

He said “I won’t be coming over to fix the balcony tomorrow we’ve got company.” “That’s nice, where are they coming from?” “Alberta,” he said. “Did they fly or drive?” I asked, having done that drive myself and found it very long and boring. “She flew,” he said. “We’re going out to dine at La Montagne” he said. “That’s a very nice place,” I said, “they do an excellent lunch special at a pretty good price, $10.95.” “Harump” he said, “I remember when the lunch special was $1.29 and sometimes 99 cents, that was a good deal.” Yes, I guess it was. I love it when he comes over.

July 19,2017

chicks

The other day a woman was at my cash and she started talking about how she saw a raccoon up by her chicken coop. I asked her about her birds, were they layers or roasters and did she have a dog because a dog is great at chasing away raccoons. She said she had layers but no dog. She had to put her last dog down a year ago and didn’t want to have to live through that experience again. I nodded, I remember when we had to put down our dog of 17 years, it was the worst day of my life.

This story also reminded me of a time about 20 years ago, on my farm, when a raccoon came to visit. Every spring we would drive over to the country store and pick up a cardboard box full of chicks, just a few days old. The whole barn at the store was full of these boxes and the chirping sound was really loud. We loaded our chicks in the back of the truck and took them home. I set them up in the basement in a child’s wading pool to get them used to being out of the box before setting them outside in the chicken pen. We built a wooden shed with cross bars for the hens to roost on underneath an old maple tree. There was a fence all around it so the birds had plenty of room to run around during the day and lots of shade. The fence was buried underground over a foot deep and chicken wire was over the top of everything and around and through the tree branches. There had been roasters and layers in this pen for several summers and all had gone well.

After a couple of nights in the basement the weather forecast looked good so we decided to take the chicks over to the chicken pen. I carried them up in the box, opened the gate and let them out. They seemed a little confused but after awhile they figured out where the food and water was and they seemed very content. They were running around chirping and looked like they were having fun. We all went to bed. The next morning I went back up to the pen to check on them and was horrified at what I saw! Tiny, little chick bodies everywhere. Some with feathers missing and bare skin showing, not even eaten, just killed. I lost it. How savage and mean, those poor chicks must have been so scared, how could something like this happen? I was devastated. I called a neighbour, a hunter who knows all about wild animals and he searched the pen for an hour and found a place where the chicken wire had been chewed through by a raccoon. He found a bit of fur stuck to the fence to prove it. Mystery solved. “Get a dog,” he said.

I thought this mess must be cleaned up but I just couldn’t face it so I said to myself I’ll do it tomorrow. The next day I went back with a bucket and shovel to clean up but there was nothing there. No bones, feathers, nothing. I looked everywhere and was kind of relieved. The raccoon had come back and finished the job.

It wasn’t long after that that I decided farming wasn’t for me. I have decided that the only kind of farming I’m interested in is maple syrup, the kind of farming where you don’t have to kill anything.

 

July 5, 2017

old_peopleAn older woman I have seen come into the store everyday with her husband for several years came in today alone. They walk almost a mile each way in every kind of weather but today Frank is not here. “Hello,” I say, “where is Frank?” Helen says “His children said he needed more care than I could give him and took him to live with them in St. Jerome,’ about 120 miles from here. Oh no, poor Helen, she has been with this man for 36 years. Frank was a funny guy, always making jokes with the cashiers, sometimes I didn’t get them but he was very jovial. Helen continued “After 1 week they put him in a home and I tried to talk to him on the phone but he didn’t know who I was, or where he was, or what was happening to him.” What a way to end a life. For both of them.

July 8, 2017

strawberry_shortcake

I was working the other day when the phone rang. The supervisor answered the phone and listened for quite awhile, spoke softly for a few minutes then handed the phone to another cashier. It was a Friday night, very busy and all the office staff and department personnel had left for the day. After 10 more minutes on the phone the cashier motioned for me to come and talk to the person. I thought, ok, I’m pretty good with customer relations but I was not ready for this. The woman first starts by yelling that I’m the third person she has talked to and she is furious. She has placed a phone order and it was delivered in the afternoon. She has ordered a strawberry shortcake she saw in our weekly flyer and has received instead a frozen white cake with red jam layers that has been “hanging around since last Easter”, her words. This seems unlikely since it is strawberry season in July so I’m starting to think maybe this woman has had a couple of drinks so I say “If you don’t like the cake please return it and we will be happy to give you a refund.” She says she wants someone from the bakery department to deliver a strawberry shortcake tonight.

I look at the flyer to see what she is talking about and sure enough there is a photo of a really nice, old fashioned strawberry shortcake made with homemade biscuits, whipped cream and fresh strawberries. It is a beautiful photo, just like Mom used to make. I say “We don’t sell strawberry shortcake, no one does.” She says “It is in the flyer and it’s false advertising” and she is going to sue the store. I say, “Underneath the photo are pictures of flour, whipping cream and strawberries with their sale prices clearly marked alongside a recipe for the cake, and you have to make the cake yourself.” “Where is your manager?” she screams, “On vacation,” I say. She says “If you don’t send me a cake tonight I will make sure you all get fired.” “Ok,” I say and hang up. I figure that situation is handled as best as it could be and she’ll forget about it. But the next day she calls back, still mad, but my boss is there. She is as cool as a cucumber and in all the years I’ve known her I have never seen her get mad or lose an argument with a customer. After quite awhile on the phone with the woman she transferred the call to the store managers brother who listened to her for 5 minutes and told her to f**k off! Which is I guess what anyone of us should have said in the first place. There is no arguing with crazy people. Ha ha ha.

June 16

fist bump

It’s been pretty busy lately, not much time for chit chat in the line. Just move them on out of here.  Today a young man pushed a few items by and was clearly not from around here. He didn’t respond to any questions so I figured he didn’t speak any of our languages. I held his change out like I always do, in an upside down fist position so I can drop it into his hand without it spilling everywhere, and held his bills in my left hand. Instead of reaching out for his change with an open hand he fist bumped me and gave me a beautiful smile.  Ha ha man. Thank you for making my day.

June 4, 2017

cross

Today, Sunday, I was working the morning shift. Usually around 11 am the church goers come grocery shopping. In our town there are several churches but not as many parishioners as there once were and the people that go to church are usually seniors. A very attractive older woman pushed a cart of food up to my cash. After I scanned everything I noticed a beautiful cross hanging on a silver chain around her neck. It looked like it was made out of black onyx and diamonds. I was admiring that while waiting for her to find her loyalty card and credit card. It can take a few minutes sometimes and there was no line up. In the meantime I was looking at her dress. It was unique, black with dark green long leaves that stretched across the fabric. I thought that is really nice I wonder where she bought it? I’d like to go to that store and get something like that. So after she paid I said “That is a beautiful dress”.

“Thank you,” she said. “I bought it many years ago for my son’s wedding” and held out her arm so I could feel the fabric, rayon I thought.  Now I’ll never find a store that sells things like that. “Very nice,” I said.

She said “My son died,” her eyes tearing up. She held my hand. “He was 32, cancer.”

Oh no, I thought. “I’m so sorry.” Now I was trying to hold back the tears. “Did he have any children?”

“3” she said  and looked so sad. 32 seems awfully young to die of cancer. How dreadful for her and the family. She shook it off and patted her sleeve back into place and said “Thank you.”

Have a nice day seemed like an inappropriate way to end our conversation so I smiled gently and said “Bon courage.” She will need it.

April 13, 2017

There is an older fellow, Richie, who comes shopping nearly every day. He is very jovial and cheerful. He has a couple of very nice dogs and they eat lots of dog food. The other day he came in and noticed we have a new cashier who is in training working at the cash next to mine. When in training, cashiers wear a smock that has printed on it “in training thank you for your patience” so the customers don’t get mad at you if you make a mistake. Mostly this works. Anyway Richie asks who the new girl is, Gracie I say. He leans over to her and says do you want to see my stool sample? She looks a little surprised, but like anyone new at the job she wants to be accommodating, so she says yes. Clearly English is not her first language. So Richie pulls out this:

IMG_0444

Ha ha ha. The best part was when the bagger had to explain to Gracie what a stool sample was. What a great first day for her.