Mr. Murphy S. Law is Alive and Well (long post)

Allow me to introduce you to a gentleman that seems to have taken up residence at our house. He is an uninvited guest and is definitely overstaying any welcome we might have unknowingly extended.

Cannot really describe his looks but his personality is so cantankerous that if you encounter him, you will not care what he looks like. He sneaks into your house and quietly observes your life and plans. Then, when you least expect it, he starts making messes, tosses things to the wind, then runs and hides before you can get a good look at him. He has been really busy at our house this week.

For instance....

We are trying to sell our belongings. We research everything before we set a price. Small things have been flying out the door. But the big things, the things we were counting on to bring in a sizable income are just sitting here with no bites - even after a couple of price reductions. Time is getting short because we have to be in Florida in 2-1/2 weeks. I can actually hear him snickering from the corner he is hiding in.

Wonder of wonders, somehow the sale of my car got past him. But, before the new owner took possession, Mr. Law worked his ‘magic’ on our truck and made it stop running. One minute it was running fine; the next it wouldn’t even turn over. We contacted 2 different mechanics. One came out and tried to start it. When it refused, he said we would have to have all new glow plugs and oil - that they had all failed at once - and that it would cost over $1000. What??? All 8 plugs failed at once? Supposedly, they are fairly new according to the previous owner. That just did not seem possible (I heard snickering in the background). Contacted the head mechanic at a Ford dealership who said he didn’t think it was the glow plugs; that they wouldn’t ALL fail at once. He had a suspicion what the problem is and thought it would take about an hour to fix so the truck has been transported there. We’ll see who’s right and how involved Mr. Law will be.

Remember the free new cell phone we got with an unlimited calling plan through Verizon Wireless at the RV Show in Kansas City a couple of weeks ago? Well, we decided we hated the new phone. The more we used it, the more horrible the sound got whether you had it up to your ear or had it on speaker phone. The screeching and static were like fingernails on a blackboard that made our heads hurt and we constantly had to ask people to repeat themselves. Contacted Verizon Wireless Customer service Tuesday morning and was told to take it to our local store for an exact exchange. Off we went. After a lot of hemming and hawing and trying to tell us the phone sounded fine (think they were deaf), they finally exchanged it for a different phone, same model. Tried it in the store and it sounded much better. Went outside and tried it and it sounded just like the old one.

Went back inside the store and told them we were willing to buy a good phone and turn this one back in. Picked out a phone we liked but then were told we’d have to come home and get the box and all accessories that came with the first phone. Understandable. Came home, collected everything and Mike went back to the store. (He was also going to get his glasses fixed while he was out - that story is coming.) They refused to exchange the phone even though we were buying the new one outright because they hadn’t sold us the first phone. AND they had charged us a $35 restocking fee for the old phone! A restocking fee on a free - but defective - phone that they had agreed to replace! He came home steaming.

Turns out that because the Verizon Wireless booth at the RV Show was not a *corporate* booth, the store said it couldn’t exchange the phone for us. Corporate doesn’t do shows anymore so there’s a different division for that now. Well, it’s still all the same company, isn’t it? (More snickering in the background.)

I made another phone call to VZW Customer Service. Had a long talk with the rep who told me that, yes, we’d have to pay the restocking fee. Yes, the store was correct that they couldn’t exchange the phone. Yes, we were going to have to just make do with that phone for the 2-year contract. Told me to try a couple of things to reset the phone which might make the speakers correct themselves. Didn’t make sense to me but tried it anyway. Of course, it didn’t work. (Mr. Law had gone beyond snickering and was outright chuckling at this point.)

I am a redhead. I try to have patience and understanding and follow God’s principles. But….sometimes I just get pushed too far and the redhead stubborn gene kicks in.

I called VZW Customer Service a third time. Got a different rep - who started giving me the same song and dance. I stopped her and told her I wanted a supervisor. The supervisor and I talked for over 30 minutes. It was like a tape loop recording. She kept saying the same things over and over and over at a 100 miles an hour. I had to get VERY blunt and butt into her dialogue and tell her to listen to me for a minute. I had to do this consistently. I was furious that they were going to charge us the restocking fee twice (once for exchanging the defective phone and once for buying our own phone and turning in the other one) and I threatened to cancel our account (we were still within our 14 days).

I honestly believe she was trained to act/talk like that to wear the customer down to giving up and saving Verizon money. Not this time! It ended up with her agreeing to talk to the store to see what could be worked out. In the meantime, we had found an old Verizon phone that Mike hadn’t used for a couple of years so, yes, we could take that in and have it set up for our plan.

Off Mike went again. He came home with the old phone active - and the other, defective phone in his hand. By not turning it in, we wouldn’t have to pay the $35 restocking fee. Great! But we’re still stuck with the defective phone.

Mr. Law was holding his sides now he was laughing so hard. I was still mad.

The supervisor called me back. She had made inquiries at the store and found they refused to be cooperative. Really? Big surprise. But…..she had been authorized to offer us a ‘managerial upgrade’ and cancel out all restocking fees. She was just going off work but gave me the # directly to her desk. She was off yesterday and today but will be back at work on Friday and will call me at noontime. By then we are supposed to have picked out the phone we want online and it would all be handled that way, cutting out the store altogether.

Fortunately, the same phone is offered online that we found we liked in the store so we’re all set and just waiting for her call tomorrow. If she doesn’t call by 1, I’ll be calling her. Take that Murphy S. Law!

Oh, he did get his final lick in though…..The sound is much, much better on the old Verizon phone - but the battery is about gone. We ended up having to charge the phone 5 times yesterday even though it started out fully charged in the morning. That’s ok; we won’t have to use it long.

Mike’s glasses…….Sunday he dropped his glasses out of his pocket onto a granite tile floor. The impact snapped one temple off the glasses (not repairable) but the lenses survived without a scratch. I groaned because I knew it meant new glasses. He had gotten those glasses a few years ago back in New England at a store that doesn’t exist out here. The likelihood of finding frames that would fit those lenses was practically nil. While running around Tuesday with the cell phone problem, he checked a few different optical places - Sam’s Club, Lens Crafters, Walmart, Sears - and found nothing. He found out that most places don’t even do repairs anymore.

What a throwaway society we’ve become! People have some hard lessons ahead of them in lots of areas on how to live frugally and self-reliantly!

He ended up getting a new eye exam (hardly any change in his prescription) and ordering 2 new pairs of glasses (special sale deal). But…..with the type of lenses he requires (clutzy), the total bill was nearly $300! If I could have seen Mr. Law as he was laughing over that one, I might have thrown boiling water at him.

Oh, my! I’m getting a violent attitude towards this guy.

I think Mr. Law thought yesterday was going to be his finest day yet and would put us over the edge.

Got up yesterday morning to another lovely snowfall (got about 7” of new powdery snow) 9 degrees outside and NO HEAT! The thermostat was set at 68 but it read 47 in here. We tried turning the power on and off to the central heat unit as the landlord instructed but nothing happened.

The day we moved into this house on December 1, 2009, we had a problem with the heat. Just didn’t work. The landlord had to have a repairman come work on it. He finally got it going but told me that he’d told the landlord back in October that the whole unit was on its last legs and needed to be replaced.

It worked through that Winter but in the Spring when it was getting hot and the air conditioning needed to turn on, it didn’t work again. It had finally, totally died. We HAD to have air conditioning. We had rented this house with the understanding that we WOULD have air conditioning. Humidity in this area very quickly gets up to 85%+ with high temperatures (90’s and above). The landlord worked a deal with the repairman. An old, used unit was installed which the repairman thought would get us through the summer but the landlord was hoping would last a couple of years.

There have been a couple of other repairs to this unit but it got us through the summer and into this Winter. Until yesterday. Hear that snickering again?

The landlord called the repairman again and told us he would be here between 11 & 3. We have one electric space heater which wasn’t going to heat the whole house. So we set the water to dripping in all the faucets so the pipes wouldn’t freeze up and burst, put on many layers of clothes, and also started the kitchen oven.

Hmmmm…..Murphy S. Law. You think you’re so smart. Well, I’ll show you. If the oven has to be on anyway, I’ll do some baking and turn a negative into a positive. The house smelled great and I got some stuff accomplished. When I had to sit at the computer processing pictures and listing more stuff for sale, I put a heating pad on my back to help keep me warm and a blanket over my legs.

The day actually went very well. The snow ended mid afternoon and the sun came out. At that point we actually got the living room/dining room/kitchen area up to 56 degrees for a few minutes. The tow truck showed up at 6:15 to take the Ford over to the dealership. We should hear today what the problem is on that.

The heat repairman showed up at the same time (he’d gotten delayed). Now you can’t tell me that Mr. Murphy S. Law isn’t a practical joker….All that was wrong with the heat unit was a loose fuse INSIDE the unit. Now how did that happen??????

We are quite willing to send this gentleman (and I use the term loosely) to another part of the country. If you’re willing to sponsor him, just let me know. LOL

Til next time,

Gloria - The Internet GADabout

Blizzard & Practical Living

Remember I wrote in an earlier blog about how people in this country in general don't have basic skills anymore - things like gardening, preserving food, making meals from scratch (no pre-mixes or finished products off the shelves of a grocery store), sewing, living off grid, etc., etc.

Yesterday we had an actual blizzard here in SW Missouri. Friends tell us it happens about once every 30 years in this area. Glad we were here for it! I am a huge snow/Winter lover and have really missed the New England Winters while we have been here in SW MO the last 2 years.

We have huge, actual drifts around the cars and house.  Mike was just out back and the drift came almost to the top of his hip bone!  (Remember, he's 6' 8" tall.)  Of course, it makes it difficult to sell my car when you can barely see it AND we cannot get out of the driveway. LOL The picture was taken from inside our garage.

It is supposed to be bitterly cold the next 2 days. Fortunately, we have no need to go anywhere - one of the perks of being retired as well as prepared for that storm.

The biggest perk was we did NOT lose power. Yay! I wonder how many people in this country could cope if there was no power for an extended period of time. Many years ago when our middle son was a Senior in High School, he came home one day and said that they had read a study in one of his classes that if power grids were destroyed, people would actually go insane and/or commit suicide because they wouldn't know how to cope in a non-powered world. Frightening, isn't it?! Really, really need those basic skills, folks.

For some reason, people like Laura Ingalls-Wilder popped into my head as I was mixing up pizza dough for lunch this morning. Back in those days, they didn't have fancy weather forecasts to warn them of oncoming major storms like we just had. But they would have had firewood and food storage and, in most cases, survived without too much problem. If we lost power a few days before a major storm hit, how would the people in this country now survive? Interesting thought, isn't it? When we lived in New England, we heated with a wood stove and sometimes even cooked on it. Here, we've just got gas heat - that needs electricity to run. Anyway, all is well and we are now slowly digging out from our 1 foot + snowfall.

We will spend the next couple of days doing more sorting, pricing and listing of things we're selling. I have to admit though, I am getting a bit discouraged about selling stuff. Smaller things are flying out the door but big ticket items aren't. Normally, I wouldn't get uptight & have more patience but we have to be out of here by February 25th at the latest to head to Florida to be with Mike's parents for the month of March. Do not want to have to put big stuff in storage. (OK, you're seeing one of my 'emotional' moments.) We have researched and tried to price things fairly but we are finding that people would rather we just give things away. Sigh. We have still got a few weeks.

Speaking of emotions, I am actually getting excited and impatient to get into the RV and 'settled'. Really, really looking forward to it. I miss having the time to knit and spin wool. Sorting through my knitting and spinning books yesterday made me yearn for this downsizing process to be over and us settled in the RV so I can get back to the things I really enjoy. Listed a ton of books for sale yesterday but am a bit surprised this morning at the # of books I decided to keep. Will go through that pile again. We are putting some books in storage for now but think I can probably eliminate more.

Made my turkey soup yesterday during the storm and it was oh, so good. Drove Mike nuts while everything simmered for hours. LOL Have been thinking about the small ovens in an RV and have decided to keep my portable, electric roasting oven. That way when I want to cook something bigger - like a 20 lb turkey - I will have the capability of doing it. I like to brine my turkey before cooking it - yummy! I can get several meals out of that turkey by taking the meat off the bone and making casseroles, etc. When turkeys are on sale, it is a great way to save money.

Well, even though it is cold today, the sun is shining brightly and it is so quiet from the sound-deafening effect of the snow. Lovely, lovely day. Hope everyone out there is having a lovely day as well.

Til next time.

Gloria - The Internet GADabout