Friday, August 27, 2004

Steve's contribution

oh, it's a good one.

My friend Steve sent me an email, giving details about the place where he will be attending a conference today. As the "Literacy Coach" for our school, he has to attend all sorts of meetings. To that, I say, "Ha-ha!"

So, he knows that I hate how Our School District has no money to pay us, but finds all sorts of money for irrelevant things. He therefore looked up a review of the inn where his conference will be held. Yes, the name of the place is, in fact, "The Lumber Baron." Yes, we both had pornographic thoughts when we saw this name. Yes, we joked about it heartily. Yes, you will read his

i will be attending an ELA conference today at an establishment known as "the lumber baron." incredulous, i looked it up and saw this description:


i did further research and found this review of the most romantic bed & breakfast in denver:

Our formal, evening wedding was ruined by the lack of customer service at the Lumber Baron Inn. For starters, the Innkeeper was on vacation and left an incompetent replacement who demaded I remove the previous wedding's decorations. I had mistaken her for the cleaning staff, as she was dressed in shorts and a wrinkled short-sleeved shirt. No attempt was made to provide hand towels in the back garden after it rained lightly before the ceremony, and she spent most of the evening making personal calls from the back office or setting up for another event scheduled for the next morning. After discovering that the air conditioners in three of the five rooms were not working, the Innkeeper (with whom we spoke on the phone) did not apologize and made no suggestions of what to. In fact, he seemed annoyed that we disturbed him on his vacation. So, at 1:30am, we were searching the house for the circut breaker box. The replacement staff member locked up the house and left the property for the evening and the morning breakfast was inedible. We still have not received an apology from the Innkeeper for ruining our wedding day.

put that in your blog and smoke it.


Done and done, Steve. Thanks for your contribution. Don't forget your knee pads, today, at Denver's Most Romantic Inn, where teachers congregate for "educational purposes."


--groovygrrl, queen of friendship

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Got it!

I think I've finally got it...

It's been bugging the shit out of me. I've got this idea for a novel, an adolescent novel, the next Harry Potter really, if you want to know the truth, but for the life of me it wasn't working.

I mean, I had it, the idea, some of the story, a few characters, and then they started talking in my head even, but when I tried to write it down, it wouldn't work. It would be stilted, boring, annoying and cliche´d. It was awful.

Not totally awful, though. The kids liked it, last year. The intro was all wrong, and the protagonist shouldn't be a girl, he should be a boy;that way he can be more of an observer. All of the elements are falling into place.

Now, when am I going to write this down? It's just floating around in my head all the time.
--groovygrrl, queen of novel ideas

Friday, August 20, 2004

End of the first week

...and I've already been to a rally.

The rally was to support the mediation team for the teachers' union. The district wouldn't work anything out so that we could have a pay raise. We didn't get our raise last year, and it appeared as if we wouldn't get one this year, either. I just read on a press release from the district that "mediation is over," so something has happened. Is it good? Is it bad? I don't know.

What I do know is I am on a personal boycott of extracurricular activities, meetings, etc. I will "work to the rule," and nothing more. If my work doesn't get done in 8 hours, then it doesn't get done. Not only did we not get a raise, but I am not paid equally for someone with my number of graduate credit hours.

For those of you who think I'm whiny, please realize that the demands being placed on public school teachers increase every year, while our compensation does not. The media derides public education, and everyone seems to have an opinion about our job, and how we should do it. However, few of these people have an idea of what it's like to teach in a public school. As it is right now, I have to work a part-time job (freelance teaching at the University) just so we don't have to go into debt every month.

Don't worry. I'm still working toward self-employment. I'm still writing and working on things that will give me my own raise. Nobody else is going to do it.

--groovygrrl, queen of malcontent

Monday, August 16, 2004


it's happening again...

The school year is starting, and already the deluge of crap has begun. I was going to share S's room; now I have to set up my own room, with no advance notice. S was going to be able to support me with all my sped kids in one room; now he will not be able to support me at all, because of scheduling conflicts. I don't know all of the needs of my kids, because I haven't had time to find their paperwork. The kids show up tomorrow, and I have a room without a computer, overhead projector, or even enough chairs.

I'm just giving it up to the kids. They are going to take ownership of setting up the room. With me as supervisor, of course.

gotta go walk home. This is a bunch of crap. Gotta let go.

--groovygrrl, queen of problem-solving

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Back to work.

Yeah, it sucks.

I'm back at work today, albeit on my own time. I thought to myself, "Self, you can get a lot of work done in your office, instead of facing the pleasant distractions at home, i.e. your precious daughter that says, "hey, baybeh," in the cutest little manner. Go to work and get something done!"

Yeah, yeah, here I am. I entered my office, pushed the button on my computer, pushed the button on my stereo, and got confused. My stereo did not turn on. I checked the computer: nope. The outlet obviously didn't work. My new furniture arrangement is beautiful, yes; technologically helpful, no.

Off, in search of extension cords, and my friend A. was available to rescue me. Thank god I'm friends with the school accountant. Of course, I get all the cords I want, because I'm working 10 days ahead of schedule. You snooze, you lose.

Isn't it sick that I think extension cords are some sort of bonus in my life?

The cord situation worked. I started up the computer, and was faced with logging on. My other very good friend, M., is the tech person here. (I choose my friends wisely.) She set up my computer, with accounts and passwords, and other such gloivin. The password didn't work, of course! It took me a few minutes to figure one out, on one of the accounts.

The emails I sent myself, with attachments of documents that I need, didn't all show up. I couldnt' do the writing work that I wanted. I forgot other documents at home.


So, I've been setting stuff up on the computer, and enjoying some time to myself. Tomorrow the real work will start. I have to scrub out the mold that formed on the inside of my personal refrigerator. *cringes*

--groovygrrl, queen of getting stuff done eventually

Monday, August 02, 2004

Pay cut. Nice.

I am NOT making this up.

Yep! This is the second year in a row that we teachers in Big School District have received no cost of living adjustment (i.e. a teeny weeny raise). Second year in a row! Thanks for valuing me, Big School District.

Furthermore, to add insult to injury, to pour salt on a gaping, festering wound, Big School District is not making up the difference for the raise in health insurance premiums. Therefore, our current paycheck reflects a pay CUT. On my check, this means $64.84 less than last month. Over the whole year, it means $778.08 has been cut from my salary.

Thanks, Big School District. I can't wait to run back to school in the fall, to bust my ass in a non-air-conditioned building, smelling the sweat from the newly-hairy armpits of 13-year olds.

Love it.

--groovygrrl, queen of poverty

The crackheads pay up.

It's because I expected nothing, I think.

That, and I am a KICK-ASS WRITER! Please read the letter I finally sent them, after the dishwasher was NOT DELIVERED on the specified day:

Ms. Alex Mastro
Store Manager, Sears
2375 E. 1st Ave.
Denver, CO 80206

Dear Ms. Mastro:

I have an unfortunate story for you. I hope you have time to read it, because it is about my experience with Sears, and your store in particular. I suggest you sit down.
On July 7, 2004, I went to Sears to purchase a dishwasher. I had visited before to find the one I wanted, and I had saved enough money so that I could purchase it outright, instead of relying on credit. A sales associate helped me with the purchase, but during the course of the transaction, we had to switch computers/cash machines. She swiped my debit card once on one machine, and once on the other.
“Please don’t charge my card twice,” I said to her.
“Oh, no, ma’am, it didn’t even go through at all. I voided it out,” she replied to me.
Alas, as you may be able to guess, this was not the case. My card was, indeed, charged twice. The void did not go through for several days. During this time, I was charged an overdraft fee by my bank, which was deleted after I traveled to the bank myself, to at least correct that error.
You can imagine my dismay when I saw that my card had been charged twice. Perhaps you can imagine my despair, when I realized that I was unable to use my debit card until these charges were actually voided. At this point, my bank balance was $0.00. I talked with Heather, in your Human Resources department, and she was very pleasant to me, and attempted to help. Of course, nothing could be done. (This will be a theme, here; stay tuned.)
Heather had told me to wait until Saturday, (I purchased the dishwasher on Wednesday), to see if the charges righted themselves. In my unwavering hope that there is something good happening in the universe, I checked my bank account on Friday. Can you guess what I found? No need; I’ll tell you. I had been charged yet again, for the dishwasher. This time, the charge came from a Sears store in Cadillac, Michigan. (Cadillac, Michigan? Why?) At this point, my bank account was at negative $400.00.
At the point that I discovered the third charge on my checking account, I was almost out of my mind. I am the only person supporting my family financially, you see. All of the money that we had to live on for the rest of the month was in my checking account. I could not use the account, because Sears had hijacked it. Since it was 10pm on a Friday, I did what any woman would do, who had been driven insane by Sears: I went out back and hand-watered my lawn, while crying my eyes out.
“How will I feed my family? What am I going to do? What did I do to deserve this?” These and other desperate questions went through my mind, until the lawn was sufficiently soaked, and I had rid myself of the massive amounts of adrenaline shooting through my veins, induced from the shock of my bank account balance.
Having been driven insane, I tried yet again to get someone to help me. The folks in your human resources department, while pleasant, could do nothing, of course (I told you there was a theme, here). Did they offer to make it better? Did they offer to do something monetarily, so I could at least cover my baby’s butt with a clean diaper? No, they couldn’t, you see. I was told repeatedly that there was “nothing they could do.” This is, apparently, the mantra of the “Customer Service” department at Sears.
Are you still seated? I hope so, because this story gets quite riveting. And you thought it was over! Alas, no. There are more problems to report. The delivery time for my alleged dishwasher (I now have doubts of its very existence) was for today, July 19, 2004. I called the company to confirm the delivery, and they did so, telling me the alleged dishwasher would arrive and be installed between 2pm and 5pm.
Ms. Mastro, please tell me that you can guess what happened. If you can’t, I really need to work on my foreshadowing skills. Of course, the dishwasher was not delivered. I called the company, and the woman told me that she had called me back, and didn’t I get her message? No, I did not.
Best Yet Lady: “But ma’am, I called you back about an hour after you confirmed. I left you a message letting you know that the dishwasher was backordered until July 23.”
Maligned Customer: “I have received no phone calls on my phone. It lets me know if I have missed a call, and if I have any messages. I have no messages, and no calls.”
Best Yet Lady: “Oh, well, I left a message on someone’s phone. It was kind of a generic message, saying something like, ‘you know what to do.’”
Maligned Customer: “That is not my voice mail. I have my name on my voice mail.”
Best Yet Lady: “Oh, ma’am, I am so sorry. I must have mis-dialed.”
Maligned Customer: “Yes, well, we have been waiting here all day for this delivery.”
Best Yet Lady: “Well, ma’am, I am sorry for that. Our drivers went to the warehouse and they were informed that model has been backordered.”

I’ll leave you with that short version of the conversation. Can you guess what that woman could do about the situation? Of course: nothing.
I have had nothing but grief in my life since I walked into your Sears store at 2375 E. 1st Ave. in Denver. I have had overdraft charges on my checking account, which were unwarranted. I have had my checking account held hostage, because Sears charged it 3 times. I have had to wait for 7 days total before my account was back to “normal,” and I could actually purchase things with cash. (My cash! Not Sears’.) I have received an insufficient funds notice from my bank. Furthermore, and most importantly, I have wasted my time. I have spent countless hours worrying about how I was going to feed my family. I have spent hours in the Human Resources department of your store, crying because I had a negative account balance. I have spent hours crying in my backyard, desperate for answers.
Of course, I know the answer, and so do you. The only answer that I have received, from anyone, is this: “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing we can do.”
Ms. Mastro, is this true? Because if it is, then Sears is telling a loyal customer that my time is worth nothing. Furthermore, I am being told the same by companies that Sears hires to deliver appliances. I have wasted my time, my energy, and my sanity dealing with Sears. This is the worst customer service experience I have ever had. My money has been held hostage, my dishwasher has been backordered with no notice to me, and my time is supposedly worth nothing.
Oh, I’m sorry. Not “nothing!” Your associate in Human Resources (I don’t remember his name; he did not give me his card), told me that I might be offered 10% off my purchase, IF the charges didn’t clear from my account and I had to go back there again. Oh, I see. Only if MORE of my time is wasted will a scrap be thrown from the corporate table that is Sears.
If I added up all of the actual hours I have spent on this problem, including going to the bank several times, going to Sears several times, waiting for a non-existent delivery, and typing this tome, the cost is far more than I paid for the dishwasher. This is not an exaggeration. I multiplied it out, using my hourly rate of pay as the base. A bargain isn’t a bargain, if I have to sacrifice my sanity and hours and hours of time to receive the appliance.
Ms. Mastro, what is Sears prepared to do to make me satisfied that I made the right decision to purchase an appliance from Sears? As you can imagine, I am thinking quite the opposite right now. Before you answer, please know that I am a loyal Sears customer. I purchased a washer and dryer and a lawnmower there a few years ago. I did not look anywhere else when I was looking for a dishwasher.
Ms. Mastro, I would appreciate an answer to one more question. I think I’ve earned it. My question is: What did I do to deserve this?

Well, Ms. Alex Mastro gave me a call, and offered to give me 50% back on my purchase. She complimented me no less than 4 times on my "well-written" letter, and apologized for everything that happened. She even sent me the receipt of the money she returned to me (electronically, of course. I was skeptical, but ready to hire a lawyer if they took any more money). The deposit went through. It was a nice gesture, I guess. I'm still leery of shopping at Sears again.

Therefore, the above letter is a sample for my writing portfolio. I can honestly claim that it was effective.

--groovygrrl, queen of snarky letter-writing