Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It Should Be Easier!

It Should be Easier

I spent 45 minutes today ordering a new deposit book.  That doesn’t include the five minutes it takes me to walk from my office to the bank, where I thought I would be handed a complimentary new one with their logo on it so that I could continue depositing my millions there with ease.  “We don’t give them out anymore, you have to phone this 1-800 number and order one.”  I don’t like the concept but I try to be progressive, and with this “kindness” thing to which I am dedicated, I smile and thank the Bank as I head back to the office to phone in my order quickly.

Automated, bi-lingual messages do not mix well with an attention deficit of such magnitude as mine.  While I was waiting for the voice reel to arrive at the number of the selection that most closely matched my needs, I became distracted by thinking about how much longer a phone cord I should buy to allow me to do other tasks while waiting for automated voice reel messages.  I only had to start over twice, but finally I was able to pay attention long enough to find out the sales tax in Quebec is going to increase to 9.5% as of – some date soon, I forgot to listen to when it will be in effect.  I fully expect I won’t be able to advance my number-pressing sequences because of this, which makes me feel slightly grouchy and I decide to hang up and phone the branch on Main Street to talk to someone I have known since birth.  Mine, not hers.  But I spent eight or 10 minutes on hold and was then automatically transferred to someone in Toronto.  Not a classic “win” but she didn’t ask me to press any numbers.  She did, however, want me to spell everything.  “What is your address please?”  Box 267 – “Could you spell that please?”  T-W-O…S-I-X…S-E-V-E-N – “So you are at 267 what?”  Box 267 – “Could you spell that please?” Box – sorry, B-O-X – “Thank you.  And what province?”  Oh, crap.

After spelling my complete auto-biography to the representative in Toronto (she doesn’t know my brother in Barrie) I may or may not be receiving a deposit book – which is no longer free - yes, I actually paid for today’s pain.  But I did not swear at all, I refrained from muttering and sighing, and I (sort of politely) explained that for the record, I am not in favor of the new system where I phone someone in Toronto who does not have access to my account information rather than being served by the person who has known me since birth (and has all my account information plus a few school pictures of me). 

This is not a rant against banks (fooled you, eh?).  It is a commentary on the decline of personal service in business today.  Everyone has become accustomed to the automated telephone answering voice and the frustrating and time-consuming circus-game of “guess the magic button” in order to complete a simple task.  I always try to take a lesson from each experience – good or bad – and my resolution today is this:  anytime I am in a position to ask for others’ patronage or support, I am going to make it as easy and pleasant as possible so that they decide in my favor.  I may be vetoed, and the effort may be greater, but I am going to try to give better than what I got today.  That should be easy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Climbing a Mountain

You may recall my blog post in January regarding goal-setting.  Consider this post an in-depth review and step-by-step worksheet for how to set goals, and also accept it as evidence that when you tell others about your goals, you will be more committed to following through.

As a girl who LOVES my perfect prairie province of Saskatchewan, it may seem odd (or normal, depending how odd or normal you are) that I should desire to climb a mountain.  It did not occur to me naturally, I read about an excursion taken by a group of buddies – not my buddies, some stranger’s buddies – in a magazine article from Cowboys & Indians magazine.  The mountain they climbed was Mt. Whitney in California, which is a great coincidence because I need to go back to Folsom, California anyway (and get a Harley t-shirt since I got lost the first time I tried…) but I digress.

So what’s the big deal?  Well, Mt. Whitney and the forest rangers paid to protect Mt. Whitney don’t let just every girl named Bevra from Saskatchewan climb to the peak at random.  No, the mountain is attainable during the summer by permit only - a permit that must be applied for between Feb. 1 and March 15.  Because my idea of a great mountain-climbing experience involves spending six days on a motorbike in sunny hot weather, I am pinning a lot of hopes on being drawn in the permit lottery, but if I am not chosen for the restricted summer months I will need to do the climb prior to May 1.  Typically, I cannot get my bike out of my yard prior to May 1, so what do I do.  Believe me, I am climbing this mountain and here is what I need to do:

1.    Research Mt. Whitney – I have read about my challenge on the internet and now have knowledge of what equipment I will need (I am not a hiker, I am a biker).  I may be able to use the same boots.  The rest of the “tools” I am not fully acquainted with, so a trip to a sporting goods store will be an early priority (I travel light on a bike and will copy my own style with this mountain gig also.)  Hopefully, the staff at Fresh Air Experience are trained to withhold laughter until a customer is out of the store.
2.     Train – Mt. Whitney Trail is 22 km round trip.  I once walked from Chitek Lake to Leoville in a walk-a-thon…I was four years old and I won the trophy for ‘Youngest Walker’ but the training for that has long-since worn off and just never you mind how long ago (what year were Yogi Bear slip-on running shoes in fashion?)  I will need to get in shape and ensure I can walk/crawl/hobble 22 miles within daylight hours, carrying a backpack full of socks and bottled water.
3.     Enter the lottery for a permit so I can ride bike down to Cali and hike this thing in the heat of summer.  If I am going to become faint from thin mountain air, it shall be warm thin mountain air.  I have chosen all my desired hiking dates and entered online.
4.     Plan the bike route – I have been over this territory before and cannot wait to ride through Nevada again (mostly because I get to see Montana and Idaho on the way!)  I will include a swing through Folsom and THIS TIME I WILL FIND THE HARLEY DEALER!  (Would parking somewhere and taking a cab be considered cheating?)
5.     Investigate accommodations somewhere near Mt. Whitney – I need to have one full day off the bike prior to the hike as I will need to eat “carbs” or whatever and generally introduce my system to the altitude.  Staying in Lone Pine, CA looks like a good idea - do they have “carbs” there?  Book it.
6.     Contemplate Plan B – that is in the event that someone else gets drawn for my permit and I cannot hike in the summer months.  I am a firm believer in having a contingency plan so that I can define all the angles and come at the challenge from one of several ways and still accomplish the ultimate goal.  Sadly for me - very, very, very sadly for me – Plan B includes me starting my training last week because I may need to do this hike in April.
7.     Check flights to Reno or Las Vegas so I can rent a bike and ride to Mt. Whitney if I need to befriend Plan B for real.  This would be a good time to advise someone in these towns that they are renting me a bike – I need to inquire if they have one of my favorites and how many of my children they will take on trade.
8.     Was anyone going to remind me to check my passport?  Okay, I did that already – it expires on July 1 this year.  I have already been to the awesome Walmart photographer for a recent mug shot and have sent away the renewal application and astronomical fee.  Check in on me 5 – 6 weeks from now, we can laugh and show each other our passport photos…sick.
9.     Enlist my brother to tell our mother   – what, he is better at calming her down than I am.  And I was kidding about trading the kids for a rented bike, so maybe she won’t even care.

There you have nine simple steps to climbing a mountain.  I have identified my goal, broken it down into several attainable steps and affixed timelines to each.  I have investigated more than one way to successful completion (and may need to build in smaller steps as I go along).  I have begun the necessary actions and will check my list frequently to cross steps as they are completed. 

Follow me along from here to the top of Mt. Whitney – I can’t wait to tell you all about it each grueling mountain step of the way!  No doubt my plans will need to be adjusted according to events unfolding, but one thing is now very clear – I am officially committed to this goal.