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January, 2015:

Bad Customer Service from Office Max

Holy crap, I had awful customer service from OfficeMax recently. I went to their store because I needed furniture for my new office and lawyers get a discount through the Arizona State Bar. I was there on a Friday late morning, and there was almost nobody in the store. As I perused the desks and chairs, no clerks came up to ask me if they could help. I wondered if they didn’t think I could afford their furniture or if I just wasn’t worth waiting on because I was wearing baggy jeans and a zippy.

I selected a desk and a desk chair and went to the front of the store and asked if I could place the order. I informed her that I was short on time because I had a lunch obligation that day, and I was willing to come back if that would be better. She said she could help me right then. She entered my order into the computer and directed me to her counterpart when I said I wanted to arrange to have the desk assembled for me. He looked at the schedule and said the earliest availability wasn’t for 2 weeks. I let him know that I would like to be put on the waiting list (if they had one) in case an earlier slot opened up.

I was pleasantly surprised when I got a call a few days later letting me know that my delivery was coming. My delivery was scheduled for Thursday afternoon between 1:30 and 3:30. I arrived at the office just before 1 o’clock so I could be there to meet the delivery people; however when I walked in the door, our receptionist informed me that the delivery people had come and gone. I was impressed by how swiftly they worked, until I looked in my office and saw my desk, unassembled, still in the box, on the floor.

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Desk in a Box

 

I called the delivery company to report the problem and they said I had to call the store where I place my order. The clerk who answered the phone informed me that they use different companies to deliver and to assemble products. It’s not uncommon for products to be delivered days before the assembly team is scheduled to come out and put them together. (That would have been helpful information to give me when I placed the order.) He said that the time I booked was the earliest they could get out to assemble my desk.

Are you fucking kidding me? I can’t believe this guy didn’t fully explain their delivery and assembly procedures to me, and that he didn’t offer to do anything to remedy the situation. I was under the impression that I would have a fully assembled desk that day based on the idea that I’d be working in my office and available to see clients. At that point it seemed like my options were to wait 8 days for my previously scheduled assembly appointment or put together my desk myself and get a refund on the assembly service. It’s a heavy desk with a lot of pieces, but I was stubborn and pissed off, so I opened the box and started putting it together. One of my office mates helped when I needed an extra pair of hands.

My New Desk

My New Desk

On that Thursday afternoon I managed to get through steps 1-8 (out of 20). Thank goodness the instructions were relatively easy to follow. I returned to the office early Friday morning and finished putting together my desk around 12:30. When we put the top on the desk, which until then had always been top-down on the floor or in the box, we noticed it had a dent and a crack. I went back to OfficeMax to get my refund for the assembly fee and hopefully an additional partial refund for delivering a damaged desk, but I was told they couldn’t do the refund unless I had the receipt. How is it possible for a business to operate this way? Shouldn’t this information already be in their computers? Shouldn’t the clerk have told me this when I called the previous day?

Damaged Desktop

Damaged Desktop

I went back again on Saturday with my receipt and within minutes the clerk refunded the assembly price and gave me a $50 refund for the damaged desk (~20% of the price I paid). He seemed pretty sullen. I think he knew he screwed up.

Marathon Training Week 17 Recap – Tapering Down

no. 17, somewhere down the jaisalmer highway by nevil zaveri from Flickr

no. 17, somewhere down the jaisalmer highway by nevil zaveri from Flickr

It’s the second to last week of marathon training and my training program has me tapering down before the race.

I was supposed to run on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, but I got too busy to run on Tuesday, so I rearranged my schedule. It’s been a challenge to make time for running lately. The temperature has warmed up again, but I’ve been busy with work so by the time I have time to run, I have to either run in the dark or use the gym at my complex. The gym is convenient but I don’t like running on machines. Running outside is more fun, has better scenery, and my options are to walk or run. In the gym, it’s boring and I have the option to switch from the treadmill to the elliptical, and even to the stationary bike.

On Wednesday, I did 6 miles in the gym – 2.5 on the treadmill and 3.5 on the elliptical. The treadmill makes my shins hurt and the elliptical makes my feet go numb. I’ll admit it was pretty boring staring at the walls and the machines. On Thursday, I ran 4 miles outside. I could tell my legs weren’t as used to running on pavement as I would like but it still felt good. I had some chest pain in the first mile, but it settled down by the end of the run.

I had my last long run on Saturday – 8 miles, and I ran them outside. It felt good to be out running in the first light of the day. My body didn’t fully appreciate it. I had a little shin pain starting around Mile 3 and some arch pain by Mile 4. I was already planning on getting both calves taped for the race and I think I’m going to get my left shin, arch, and post-tib taped too. I’m going to look like I have bionic legs. My chest hurt a bit from the beginning of my run and got worse around Mile 6.  Focusing on my running form seemed to help keep it in check and it was never bad enough where I thought I should stop or walk for safety reasons.

I have the No Pants Light Rail Ride on Sunday so I’ll be walking all over Phoenix before and during the ride so that will be my substitute for cross training. I don’t wear a GPS or a pedometer so I won’t know how  far I’ll walk but I’ll be walking and standing for the better part of 5 hours.

My plan for my last week of training and rest for the marathon is to make sure I stretch, foam roll, and use The Stick on my lower legs every day. I need my calves to be as limber as possible. I’ve heard stories about lots of runners having to stop during the last few miles to stretch their calves. There is a slight incline on the route starting around Mile 20 so I want to make sure my legs are ready for it.

Weekly Totals:
Running:  14.5 miles
Elliptical:  3.5 miles

Thoughts about School Dress Codes

I’ve wanted to write a blog post about school dress codes for a while and it seems like now is a good time since kids will be heading back to the classroom this week after Winter Break. When I was in school, I wore a uniform for kindergarten through eighth grade and went to a high school with a strict dress code. We weren’t allowed to wear clothing with words or pictures on them, skirts and shorts had to be mid-thigh length, and guys couldn’t have long hair or facial hair.

I saw a few images this fall that made me want to share some thoughts about dress codes. Here’s the first:

Screenshot from Facebook taken in Fall 2014

Screenshot from Facebook taken in Fall 2014

I agree that wearing leggings or yoga pants does not make you look like a prostitute. However, I do believe that high school is a place to get people thinking about what is/is not an appropriate way to dress. If teenager’s job is to go to school, then part of that education is about how to present yourself. I agree that students’ dress should not be a distraction to learning, but it should take a lot to cross that line. Some of my classmates prided themselves of following the dress code while wearing absurd things like a 3-piece polyester plaid suit or pairing purple tights with a lime green dress. Whatever dress code you set, the kids are going to push back – and I actually encourage that if they can do it in clever ways that don’t break the rules.

I had mixed feelings about this photo:

Another Image from Facebook from Fall 2014

Another Image from Facebook from Fall 2014

On one hand, I’m a huge believer that we need to look at how children are socialized and work on teaching them that no one deserves to be objectified and no one should feel pressured to be in that role. If you find someone attractive, learn how to look discreetly.

On the flip side, I agree that visible bra straps and short shorts have no place in the classroom and it’s fine to make any student who is violating the dress code to go change. But that has nothing to do with gender roles.

Speaking of gender roles, these images made me think about what dress code I would create if I was responsible for a school. I support the idea that the same dress code should apply to boys and girls in regards to what garments may be worn and how long short/skirt lengths should be. I have no issue with a biological male student wearing a dress to school as long as they adhere to the same standards regarding dresses as the girls. Here’s the list I came up with:

  • Your appearance must be clean and neat – no ripped or stained clothing. Your hair must be neatly styled.
  • No facial hair.
  • Workout attire should only be worn during P.E.; exception for athletic shoes and socks.
  • No excessively baggy or tight clothing. No see-through clothing. No backless or sleeveless tops or dresses. No exposed cleavage or midriffs. (You should be able to raise both arms above your head without exposing any torso skin.)
  • No visible undergarments.
  • No leggings may be worn as pants but may be worn under shorts, skirt, or dress. No “skinny jeans.”
  • The hem of your shorts and skirts must be at least 5 inches from the bottom of your hip bone.
  • No visible tattoos unless you are at least 18 years old (because you have to be 18 to legally get a tattoo) and the image or verbiage must not be offensive.
  • No verbiage on your clothing except for small logos, unless it is official apparel from a legitimate school or college.
  • Your top must have sleeves.
  • Your shoes must have a closed toe and heel.
  • No hats or hoods may be worn in the building.
  • No pajamas, including slippers.

I’m sure some people will think that it’s odd that someone like me – who wears t-shirts professionally and participates in the annual No Pants Ride would endorse such a conservative school dress code. (My high school alma mater’s dress code is actually more conservative than this.) But here’s the deal – I’m an adult. I know how to dress myself according to the situation. For many people, this will be the type of dress code you will have at your first job. Plus, I want young people to understand that they are more than their appearance. They’re in school to develop their minds so they can have the future that will give them the lifestyle (including dress code) that they want.

Marathon Training Week 16 Recap: Running Scared

16 by  Karen_O'D from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

16 by Karen_O’D from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

If you’ve been following my journey towards running my first marathon, you know that a few weeks ago my cardiologist diagnosed me as having 2 holes in my heart. He said I can keep training and do the race as long as I can manage the symptoms and I don’t have a stroke.

Knowing that I have a potentially serious cardiac condition makes me nervous about running, but not enough to make me stop. I am much more mindful about where I run because I don’t want to find myself getting into trouble and being more than a few miles from home or my car. I’m more likely to choose a route that involves running loops close to home or running on the treadmill or elliptical. I definitely never leave the house without my Road ID on my wrist.

My Medications - Dizziness WarningsOne of the challenges of having this condition and being on my medication is I never know how I’m going to feel day-to-day. Last week I ran over 20 miles, and I felt like I could have run another 5 miles if I needed to. A few days ago, I had to stop running after 1.5 miles on the treadmill and finish my workout on the stationary bike because I was too weak to run anymore. Some days I feel great and other days I’m weak and prone to dizzy spells. (I recently noticed that all 3 of my medications have dizziness as a side effect.) I really hope I don’t have a bad day on race day, because there’s a good chance I’ll be riding the golf cart to the finish line.

Every time I suit up to workout, part of me is afraid of getting to weak or tired to finish my run or worse. I prefer not to collapse or have a stroke. I don’t need road rash or a treadmill burn on my face and I’m clumsy enough without adding in a semi-permanent weakness in half my body. I wonder how being on a beta blocker impacts my workouts, since I think it’s keeping my heart rate from rising like it would in a non-medicated person. My teammates warn me to “Listen to your body,” but they know I’m stubborn and it’s hard not to push through when I can. But I know the big goal is to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, and that might mean I have to take it easy a bit in my training to make sure I make it to race day.

2013 Post RaceThis week I opted to ride the stationary bike at the gym for an hour while reading my book and checking social media for cross training. It was pretty boring but I cranked out 15 miles. (I can’t wait ‘til it’s warm enough to ride outside again.) It made me miss the aerobics classes I used to take when I belonged to a gym. I’d buy a day pass for an intense step class. (I’m sure my cardiologist wouldn’t support the idea of me taking an intense step class, but it’s fun.)

I have good news in regards to race prep – I ordered my base shirt so I can have Brand X make me another custom running shirt for the race. They did a great job with my Masochist/Run Bitch shirt the last time I ran a half marathon.

Weekly Totals:
Running:  5 miles
Elliptical:  20 miles
Biking:  22.5 miles

Thoughts about Change

Happy New Year everyone! I hope your year is off to a wonderful start. As I was walking my dog this morning, I thought about how much my life has changed since I’m moved to Phoenix almost 11 years ago. It made me reflect on the many lessons I’ve learned about change and I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you.

Now by Kalyan Kanuri from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Now by Kalyan Kanuri from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Change is a Commitment
When I was in early recovery, I remember people saying, “New playgrounds, new playmates, new play things.” And that’s absolutely true. When you make a change in your life it often requires letting go of people, places, and things from the way your life was. So if your New Year’s resolution is to be healthier, the first step is probably getting the junk food out of your pantry. If you’re going away to college and you want to make over yourself in the process, you shouldn’t bring your old clothes with you because the risk is too great that you will end up back in your old patterns.

I’m working on committing to change right now as I’m writing this post. This morning I force myself to raise my sit/stand desk to work from a standing position and I turned on my dictation software because I think, once I get used to it, it will be easier to write this way.

Sometimes Change is Hard
I’m not going to sugar coat this: sometimes making changes is hard and even scary. It requires doing things differently and being mindful not to slip back into old behaviors. And sometimes there is even grief involved because you’re letting go of how your life used to be.

Every time I move to a new place or a new job, it’s excruciatingly painful for me, even when it’s in my best interests. It takes me a while to settle in and feel comfortable but I know in the big picture it’s for the best so I muddle through, knowing that I’ll be fine in a few weeks.

Sometimes Change is Easy
I’m often a person who will resist change, kicking and screaming, until it’s way too painful not to change, but change doesn’t always have to be hard or painful – especially if you’re ready for it. Sometimes I’m excited for the changes that are to come, like with my minimalism projects. When change comes easily, it often feels more like an adventure, or at least a seamless process.

A few years ago I was diagnosed with acid reflux, and my a doctor gave me the list of dietary recommendations which included giving up high fat, tomato products, not eating within 3 hours of bedtime, and giving up caffeine. I told him I would do everything on the list except give up caffeine. There was no way I was giving up my coffee. Six months later, I still had problems with acid reflux and so I relented. My office mates were so frightened of me my first week off of coffee, but because I was ready to go through the withdrawal, it really wasn’t that bad. I had a mild headache for a week and it took about 3 weeks to stop feeling tired all the time, but then I was fine. (I quit caffeine for probably 2 years, but I only lasted about 2 months into law school before I was back on coffee again.)

Change Requires Risk
No matter how you feel about making a change in your life, it always requires risk – risk of failure, risk of being uncomfortable, etc. When you change behaviors, it may change the way you feel about yourself or possibly the way you view the world. I don’t know about you, but generally for me change is scary and I often resist it just to maintain the familiarity of the status quo, even when the status quo is bad. But one thing I’ve learned is that when I’m afraid of making a change, it usually means I’m making a change for the better and often in a big way. With great risk often comes great rewards.

I’m not really one for making New Year’s resolutions but rather I use the start of a new year to think about how I want to be different or better a year from now.

I wish you happiness and success for 2015. Make it a good one.