Let’s all take a risk

Pubs have been allowed to open for two days now, and today I see on the news how big a crowd there is outside the pubs/clubs.
Inside, it’s safe.  Well, safer , anyway.  There are screens, barriers, floor markings, etc, reminding people to socially distance, and be careful.
Outside… let’s act like a mob, and see how many people we can cram into a small area.

The attitude of most seems to be ‘it’s not me that’s the problem, it’s everybody else.’

Read more…

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HP Printer Manager

Been doing a lot of printing over the last few months, and keep having problems with my Epson printer.  I want to print in black, on white paper – and now I can only do that if I replace the red ink.  I’ve already had to replace the blue and yellow inks so I can use the black ink.  Not sure why that is, unless… just maybe… could it be that they want me to buy more ink than I need?  Nah, couldn’t be that…

Anyway, I just treated myself to a HP laser printer.  Big advantage is that it only uses black.  It also will do all the printing I need for the next couple of years without me having to buy any more supplies.  It will sit on my desk, doing nothing, until I need it; and then it will do what I need quickly.

I love it.

But…

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Words, Language, and Requests

The English language is a wonderful thing. If you use words, properly, you can convey any thought you have.  If, however, you use words incorrectly, you will be condemning yourself to a lifetime of misery – and never know why.

Every day, people will ask questions that don’t actually mean what they think:

‘Do you have the right time?’

This is a question that should only be answered with ‘yes’, or ‘no’.

The question people think they are asking is ‘can you tell me the right time?’  The answer to this, of course, is exactly the same.

The question people should ask is ‘what is the right time, please?’

This misunderstanding is exacerbated when you want something tangible. Here are a few examples of the same ‘question’ – with appropriate responses:

‘Question’                                           Response

‘I’d love a cup of tea…’                          ‘Oooh, me too…’

‘Any chance of a cup of tea?’                ‘Probably – the kettle is right there, and cafes do exist…’

‘Would you make me a cup of tea?’       ‘Maybe, if you asked.’

‘Can you make a cup of tea?’                ‘It is one of my abilities, yes.’

The common theme here is that none of these is actually asking anybody to make a cup of tea.  The first is simply a statement of opinion; the second is a question about probability; the third is attempting to find out what the answer is before you ask it, and the fourth is simply asking if the responder can make a cup of tea.

‘Will you make me a cup of tea, please’ is, actually, the most direct and grammatically correct way of asking the question – any other phrasing (or variation of the examples above) relies on the person being asked guessing what question you meant to ask, or reading your mind.

Now, you can live with others guessing what you want – assuming they get it right, every time (and just imagine what could go wrong if your doctor guesses whether you want your leg amputated) – or you can say what you want.

Guess which one will succeed more often!

So, how do you do it?

Step 1.

Work out what it is that you actually want.

Step 2.

Ask for it.

That’s it. Simple.

 

Oh… You want more.

Step 1 (revisited).

Work out what you want. If you want somebody to make you a cup of tea, then you should be asking them to make you a cup of tea.  If you want to know if they can make a cup of tea, then that is what to ask them…

If you want your partner to take you to a nearby town, so you can visit a shop, then what you should be asking, obviously, is if they would be willing to take you to a nearby town.  Asking if they were planning to do something that you wanted to do, in the forlorn hope that they had correctly interpreted some random comment made hours earlier and had immediately arranged the universe around your wishes without your needing to actually ask for it, so you can accept the offer without needing to feel grateful…. (Wow, long sentence…)

Stating that you want to go to M&S, in the hope that the listener will think ‘oh, I must immediately make plans to take them there’ ignores a very basic alternative which could easily be the listeners guess – i.e. You could mean that you were planning to go alone, on the bus, and meet a friend.

Until the point at which you ask ‘were you planning to take me?’ both options were equally valid – as were, potentially, dozens more, to a greater or lesser degree.

 

Use the fewest words possible to encapsulate what you want, in the form of a request. But ensure you actually state exactly what it is you want.

Step 2 (revisited).

Ask for it.

That is, ask for what it is you actually want.

Say, ‘will you make me a cup of tea?’ if a cup of tea is what you want.   Note, there is no ‘please’ in there.  A ‘please’ would be nice, but it’s not essential.

Or. If you want to be taken somewhere, as in Step 1, ask for that:

‘Will you take me to the M&S store in [insert town here] tomorrow, please.’  THAT IS ALL YOU NEED.

Work out what you want, and ask for it. Don’t expect others to guess what you want; don’t ask if they were planning to fit in with your plans without even the pretence of a request; don’t try to come up with some clever way of planting a seed in somebody’s head in the hope that it takes root, grows, and bears the fruit you want it to bear.

All of those leave far too much room for error. All of those require the person you ask to do some ‘working out’ – and if you rely on others to work things out, they’ll get it wrong.

If you ask for what you want, the possible answers are ‘yes’, ‘no’, or ‘can we discuss this.’

(‘Can we discuss this’ covers ‘would another town/day/store be okay?’, ‘do you really need to go?’, and ‘How much?!’)

Dropping a hint, waiting a while, and then asking, will damage your case, of course. What you are actually saying, then, is ‘You were obviously too stupid to guess correctly what I wanted, so I’m going to give you another hint.’

Telling somebody you would like to go somewhere, then asking if they were planning to take you? In what reality would anybody answer ‘yes’ to that?

I’d like to go on a cruise of the Norwegian Fjords, are you planning to take me?

I’d like to travel across America on a motorbike, are you planning to take me?

I’d like to walk along the river tomorrow, are you planning to go with me?

The answer to all of those has to be the same: “Until you asked, the thought never entered my head!  Now, I need time to actually think about it, while feeling ambushed by the unexpected demand.”

Ask for what you want. I guarantee you will notice an increase in the number of ‘yes’ answers you get – if only because the person you ask will know what you are asking for, so they don’t guess wrong.

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You’re doing a great job

I’d just like to say a huge ‘well done’ to all those people who are stockpiling, ready for the end of civilisation.

Seriously.

I’ve just been to do my normal weekly shop, and found the shelves bare.  Not just of the items we’ve been hearing about: sanitising gel, toilet roll, and pasta – no, the stores are now out of meat, milk, cereals, potatoes, bread, eggs, flour…

People are stocking up now, and planning to keep topped up by getting regular deliveries.

It is now at the point that every delivery slot is pre-booked for two weeks.  Planning ahead, you see.

So, again, I say well done.

Congratulations on making sure that you are safe.  No need to worry about anybody else, as long as YOU are okay.

Only….

I’m the one that is supposed to be making those deliveries.  And I haven’t got anything to eat.

Oh dear, I guess I’ll have to take the Government advice, and stay at home.  Which means, of course, that you can only eat if you go out and re-stock – but there won’t BE any stock, because the delivery drivers are staying home and being as selfish as you.

Whoops.

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Thoughts about getting older

I’m getting old(er).

I recently celebrated a big birthday (you know, one of those with a zero on the end), and we moved our annual holiday back a bit so we could celebrate my birthday in the sun.  Corfu, actually.

It’s been a rough year: I had a nasty virus which kept me off work for 6 weeks, and when I went back I was on a ‘phased return’ – which meant I only just managed to get back to my full contract hours the week before the holiday; there was also a bereavement which I won’t talk about here. (Most of you know about this already, anyway.)
Consequently, I was really feeling my age before we travelled, and was in great need of some rest.

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Something has gone wrong, somewhere…

As my (possibly now long gone) regular readers know, I have tried very hard to moan about everything.  I have gone out of my way to be unpleasant, and I have never cared about popularity.

I took pride in it!

Three and three-quarter years ago, my world changed completely.  My partner of three decades passed away.  (And I still tear up a little when I write that…)
I’m proud of the way I recovered from that blow.  I can honestly say the months that followed it were the darkest I’ve ever known – and the fact that I’m still here can be attributed entirely to my little dog: he made me eat, he made me go to bed, and he made me get out of the house every day.

Hmmm… this is going in entirely the wrong direction…

OK.  When I started to live again, I got a job.  At a supermarket.  (Yep, goes against most of what I’ve said on here in the past.)
The job was making deliveries in a van, and I loved it for two and a half years.  But I was too good at it, and they took me off the road.  (True, in fact I was SO good, I did a five hour shift in three hours.  Pity they were tracking my speed, really…)

For the last year (roughly) I’ve worked IN the store – stacking the shelves, officially.  During this time, I’ve volunteered to learn, and become qualified as, a picker, checkout operator, and petrol station attendant.
Very useful, that – it means I can get overtime in any one of four departments!

Our company has an awards scheme – the service superstars.  If you creep enough with a customer, and the customer makes it official by writing or emailing their praise, you can get a ‘wow’ comment on your record.  A ‘wow’ will probably mean you get the bronze service superstar award, which is supposed to be a badge, but I’ve never seen anybody with one.

Once you have a bronze, you can be considered for Silver.  To get silver, you have to be the best in the month.  You either get more ‘wows’ than anybody else, or get special notice for some reason.
For Silver, you get a certificate and a badge.

Twice a year, all those who got Silver (since the last Gold award) are eligible for the Gold Service Superstar award.  Now this is the biggie.  To get the Gold, you do not have to be nice to customers, you do not have to creep around management… No, all you have to do is be liked.  Period.
Every member of staff in the store gets a vote, and the one with the most votes wins.
When you win, you get a special badge.  Yay!  Oh, and you get presented with the badge at a Social event along with every other Gold winner in the region.  As I understand it (I could be a little wrong) the last awards were given in a box at a football match, at Manchester United’s ground, after dinner.

Oh, and once you have the Gold, you cannot ever be considered for Silver or Gold again – you have reached the highest pinnacle in customer service.

All sounds grand, right.

Well I hope so.  Because I just got Gold.

Yep.

To my recall, I never got a ‘Wow’ comment from a customer.  I do not recall ever getting the Bronze – I certainly never got a badge.

I got the Silver because a Manager nominated me for it.  Apparently, the fact that I always said ‘OK’ when they gave me a job to do was exceptional.  Seems that many of my colleagues prefer to argue, or find reasons why they cannot do the job.  But… I’m paid to be there, I’m paid to work, so I work.  And I smile while I do it.
(I had around twenty years where I wanted to go to work, and was unable to – so I’m really happy to be working!)

The last few weeks, my colleagues have been voting, and I found out yesterday that they had voted for me.  I won by a comfortable margin – in fact, the person I really wanted to beat got half as many votes, in total, as the difference between me and the nearest competitor!  (e.g. If they got ten votes, then I got twenty votes more than the second placed colleague.  Those are not the real numbers, but give you an idea.)

I’m now waiting to find out when and where the award will be made.  But in the meantime, I’m making the most of my position:
The store manager complained to me yesterday that he now had to find something nice to say about me, but he relaxed when I gave him permission to lie.
Two other managers yesterday gave me a job, and I said ‘no.’  When they got annoyed, I reminded them that I was now at the top, and didn’t have to try any more!  They agreed, and went off to annoy somebody else.

The thing is…  How on earth did I become popular?  I’ve tried so very, very hard to be annoying!

Something, somewhere, is very, very wrong!

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Militant Vegans – why?

Every week, we have friends to dinner.  And every week, we go to them for dinner.  So what? I hear you say.  Well, the friends in question are vegetarians.

It’s not easy, but every week I manage to come up with a meal that we can all eat.  Usually, this means doing two separate main items – one meat, one not.
Conversely, my friends will cook meat for us when we go there.

We work around each other, as any decent people would.

Which is why I’m so annoyed at the militant vegans.
They choose not to consume animal products.  Fine.   That’s their choice, and I will support it. (By consume, I mean eat, use, or wear.)
But they also insist that nobody else should consume them either.

Why?

You have made a choice – but why do you think you have the right to force that choice on others?

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What a load of *****!

In the news today is a story about Tesco being sued for pay disparity – or sexual discrimination.
Apparently, men working at the distribution warehouse are paid £11 an hour, while women on the shop floor (Supermarket shop floor, not factory) are only paid £8 an hour.  Shock, horror!

Only…

They are paid £8 an hour in the store, whether they work on the tills, in the petrol station, stack shelves, pick for home deliveries, or move cages in the ‘warehouse’ at the back of the store. Read more…

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More adventures on the web

You have probably heard of eBay – the website where you can buy or sell virtually anything.

If you can use it, of course.

I first used eBay around 20 years ago, and both bought and sold items on it.  I created my account, set my password, and happily continued to use the site – without issue – for years.
Until they were hacked.

The hackers got a lot of information: names, addresses, email addresses, maybe even credit card numbers.
What they didn’t get was passwords.

(Passwords are always encrypted.  I’ve run a few websites, and if a user forgot their password, I couldn’t tell them what it was – because even I couldn’t read it!  )

EBay’s response?  Lock user accounts until the user allowed ebay to contact them with a new password.  By text, to a number they didn’t have; by phone, to a number they didn’t have; or by another option I can’t even remember it was so pointless.

I still cannot access that account.

So I created a new one.  Which I haven’t used yet – and probably never will.

You see, within a couple of days of creating the account, eBay told me that there was ‘suspicious activity’, locked the account, and told me to change my password.

I did.  Then I changed it back.  Then they locked the account again.

I tried to contact them.

They do not have an email address!  You can telephone them, I believe, but I’ve read online that you can be on there over an hour.  You can also use a thing called ‘live chat’, or use an online help thing – all you have to do is log on…

Yep.  If you can’t log on, you have to log on to get help logging on.

I did find an online form that is supposed to go customer services, so I asked them why they keep locking my account, and pointed out that if they didn’t want people to use the site, they should close it down.  And if they did want people to use the site, they should allow them to log in!

I wonder if I’ll ever hear back from them…

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Sandals full of holes

My partner and I, now, are intent on having a good holiday every year – to which end, I’m always keeping an eye open for holiday options.
This week, I saw an advert for Sandals holidays in Barbados, and thought ‘lets find out how much’.

If anybody can find out, let me know!

I started by doing a search on my phone, and soon got to the webpage.  No prices listed – but I’m used to that, you just pick the holiday you want, and when you get to the checkout they tell you the total.
(You then close the page without booking, and – if you were daft enough to give them your details – you spend the next month fighting off all the ‘its not too late to book’ messages, but that’s another post.)

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