Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Road Rage Incident You DIDN'T See on YouTube

We have a lot of road rage here in Georgia.The other day, the news said, "Carjacker Surprised by Grandma."  A carjacker had tried to take a woman's SUV and she'd pulled her own pistol out and shot him. The video showed a woman of uncertain age, with 3" fingernails and a 60's beehive, who looked like she'd just climbed off her pole at the Pink Pony. If she was a grandma, she probably achieved that goal at age 22.

This is my own story of road rage, which, thankfully, didn't make the news.

Some of you know that I live in an area called Backwoods County, Georgia. For those of you old enough to know what this means, I've changed the names to protect the guilty. Our county philosophy is "We Ain't Atlanta." Our county motto, in raised letters around our county seal, is "Welcome all y'all, as long as you're white, born in this county, and ain't one of them Muslim terrorists. Or one of them gays, neither."

Yes, it's a big seal.

Anyway, in Backwoods, calling someone a "redneck" is a compliment, we still fly the Confederate flag, every other pickup truck has a gun rack, and the Dixie Chicks are still banned from performing at the Mighty Bulwark Church of Jesus and Fine Barbecue. I don't want to stereotype anyone, but here in Backwoods, the words "Stuffed you in the trunk, EARL!" still makes growed up men take off their camo caps and wipe their sweaty foreheads with their grimy hands.

But I digress.

Yesterday, I'm on my way to work, and sitting about fifth in line at the four-way on Bobo Road. Yes, the street really is called Bobo--here in Backwoods, we name our streets after early county pioneers and family pets. And yes, in the 70's a four-way would have been an intricate sexual encounter, but today, well, you know what it is.

Anyway, I'm at the four-way and I realize I can't find my debit card in my wallet. And you know I don't want to have to call those know-it-alls at Wells Fargo Security and tell them they were right to worry about my debit card. So, now I'm picking through my purse--old receipts and ballpoint pens and lipsticks and stitch markers are flying around the car.

And the guy in the silver Ford pickup behind me honks his horn. Twice.

Really? Really?

I put down my purse, put the car in Park, turn off the ignition, and get out of the car. I walk back to the Ford and I say, "Excuse me, sir. Do you by any chance have my debit card?"

"Uh, no, ma'am."

"Okay, because my debit card's missing and it's making me a little nervous, seeing as how my whole paycheck's in there and I got me some bills to pay. You know what I'm saying?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"So," I say, slowly, drawing it out a little, "if you can't help me with my problem, you're really no good to me. Can you please stop honking so I can get on with getting to work and finding my card?"

"Yes, ma'am."

Then I got back into my car, leisurely, put it into Drive, and went through the four-way, because, by then it was my turn.

He took a left on two wheels, screeching. Probably went home to change his jeans. Bless his heart ....

I mean ... really?

Editor's note: Every so often, one of my readers accuses me of exaggeration, or even making things up. I prefer to think of it as adding dramatic effect to the narrative, or some such term from my college writing class. (Thank you, Dr. Taormina!). As for you, just be glad I didn't throw in a flippin' Deus ex Machina, for god's sake!

Second editor's note: I found the card later, stuffed into my checkbook. Whew! Didn't have to call those WF jerks.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Saving Money With Wells Fargo

How did this become my own private corporate complaints area? Got no clue, but here's the latest.

So, this was Stitches South weekend here in Atlanta--four days of classes, camaraderie and credit-busting. As always, it was wonderful--lots of knitters, knitting, wearing knitted garments, buying knitting supplies. And crocheters. Yes, there was yarn involved.

And this year was especially fun for me, because I worked with the SS folks doing some customer service stuff--met everyone, loved it! But when you sit behind a registration desk for four days, you don't have much time in the Market, searching out vendors. There's always a customer waiting and, really, that's what's most important.

Finally, on Sunday afternoon, I had about 20 minutes to wander through the Market. I grabbed up my short list of booths that I absolutely had to get to, mapped out a route, and took off running.

Four quick stops later (and I do mean quick!), my phone rang. Wells Fargo Security informing me of a possible fraud alert on my debit card.  Was someone using my card to send $3 million to a Nigerian prince to secure an inheritance? Taking a first class flight to India? Wow!

[Recorded Voice]: This is the Wells Fargo Fraud Investigation Department, warning you of a possible fraudulent use of your card. Is this Woofgangpug? Press 1 for yes, 2 for no.

[Me, pressing 1]: Uh huh.

[Recorded Voice]: We need to verify your identity. Please tell us your zip code. Press 1 for (your zip code) or 2 for another zip code.

[Me, pressing 1]: Uh huh.

[Recorded Voice]: That does not agree with our records. Stay on the line for the first available Fraud Investigator.

[Me, smacking forehead]: Oh, crap.

[Wells Fargo Fraud Investigator, minutes later]: Hello, is this Woofgangpug?

[Me]: Yes. How long will this take?

[WF]: Ms. Pug, can you verify your mother's maiden name, the last four digits of your Social Security number, and the color of your underwear?*

[Me, ripping hair out]: Yes.  King, XXXX, and Grandmother Beige. How long will this take?

[WF]: Thank you, Ms. Pug. We believe there is fraudulent activity on your debit card. Can you verify your last four transactions?

[Me, finally getting the point of the conversation]:  Yes, of course.  I'm here at a knitting convention and I've been buying yarn.

[WF, skeptically]: So, you bought something from someone named Miss Bob?

[Me]: Yes, yarn. And that's Miss Babs. It was beautiful--dark red worsted. You see, I'm here at a knitting convention and I'm buying yarn.

[WF]: Uh huh. And, let's see, Buffalo Wool?

[Me]: Yes, yarn. Sock yarn. It was a great deal, buy three skeins and get a fourth. I'll probably make socks, but you never know--maybe shawlettes. You see, I'm here ....

[WF]: But it says buffalo.

[Me, with a bit of edge in my voice]: Yes. Big, bulky, furry things. Horns. Intimidating. They make yarn from the fur.

[WF, still testing me to see if I'm a Nigerian prince]: I've never heard of yarn from buffaloes.

[Me, checking time, 19 minutes gone]: Yes, can we move on, please? You see, I'm here at a yarn convention and I want to get back to shopping. With my debit card. For yarn.

[WF]: Oh, no. Your debit card is locked until we determine if there's been fraud. Now, did you make a purchase at Erin Lane bags? That doesn't sound like yarn.

[Me]: You mean if I hadn't heard my phone in this really large, noisy place, full of hundreds of people, all of them BUYING YARN, you would have humiliated me while I'm here BUYING YARN by declining me?

[WF]: Well, of course, because there's a pattern of possible fraudulent activity.

[Me, screaming]:  Did my husband call you? Because if he did .... Yes, I bought a bag to put my YARN in, because I'm here at a ....

[WF]: What about Fiesta? That sounds like a party store.

[Me]: Yes. Fiesta, a party on your needles! Ole!  I am SO cancelling my account.

[WF]: So you're saying all these transactions are legitimate? You made them?

[Me]: Yes, yes, yes! Now may I PLEASE go back to shopping?

[WF]: We'll release your card. Thank you for your time.

Of course, by then it was time to go back to my duties. I'm still suspicious of my husband. And I am SO cancelling my account.

Author's clarification: I have been asked by concerned readers to tell you that the asterisked line is poetic license--the intrusive questions asked did not really involve undergarments and no shapers were harmed in the writing of this account. Oh, well...take it for what it is.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Would You Like Fries With That?

To the CEO of McDonald’s, Grand Poobah of Fatty Goodness:

Dear Mr. (or Ms.) Poobah:

Do you have a minute? I’d like to tell you a story and get your opinion on it.

First off, let me start by saying, I’m a fan. I'm not one of those pretentious foodies who think of fast food as eco-terrorism. On the contrary, I'm deeply wedded to the unhealthy world of empty nutrients.
There is no one who appreciates your corporate commitment to fatty goodness more than I, and my hips and belly will attest to that fact. I personally would eat a roof shingle if it had Big Mac special sauce smeared on it, and I’m convinced that an international summit conference of world leaders could not fail to agree to Peace on Earth and Nuclear Non-Proliferation if Big Macs were served. Those tiny pieces of onion, that sauce, the roll cut in three precise slices, the manufactured cheese slice. Perfection!

But in the morning, when I’m still self-delusional enough to convince myself that I’m going to consume only healthy carbohydrates all day—yes, all day—I’m a fan of oatmeal.

When McDonald’s launched Apple Cinnamon Walnut Oatmeal, honestly it made me warm in places I’m embarrassed to talk about. Oatmeal AND fresh apples AND cinnamon AND walnuts? Oh, baby!

Apparently, though, McDonald’s does not want me to eat this breakfast that I can almost convince myself is heart-healthy.

Five days a week, on my way to work, I slide off the highway into the McDonald’s in H****, Georgia. Yes, the one nestled between the WalMart and the Chik Fil-A. That one. You're's a nice one, clean with very few cooties on the play equipment. 

The trip through the drive-thru is the easy part. I no longer even have to place my order most days (ACWO plus a medium diet coke). Once I convinced my personal shopping representative Lucy (yes, we're on a first-name basis)  that, no, I do not want deep-fried carbohydrates, or even tasty frozen slushy carbohydrates, to accompany my healthy carbohydrates, it shaved seconds off the transaction time and now she just says “Good morning, that will be $3.20.” We have reached an understanding, as it were. Detente, even.

But beyond that, it’s a crapshoot what I'll get for breakfast.

Because NOT ONCE since I started ordering this breakfast two months ago, has my order been right.

NOT ONCE. (This is the most consistent aspect of my life at this point, so maybe I should just shut up and stop complaining.) But ...

No straw. Regular coke. No walnuts. No apples in the oatmeal. Apples but also cranberries and golden raisins, which is roughly equivalent to adding moose poop to my oatmeal in my world.

Every single morning, I have to park my car, get out, go into the restaurant, which is what I was avoiding from the beginning by going through the drive-thru, and confront a human who is not Lucy to reconstruct what has to be the easiest order known to man. Oatmeal, Apples, Cinnamon, Walnuts, Diet Coke, straw, napkin, spoon. Eight elements, plus the bag. Nine.

It was interesting to learn last week that there are 176 million possible winning combinations on a Mega Millions ticket. In fact, the commentators couldn’t stop saying it. There are 176 million possible combinations. No, really, 176 million. That means the odds against your winning is 176 million to one. Really. No, listen…you’re NOT winning it.

They were right. I didn't.

Are the odds on getting my breakfast right REALLY 176 million to one, or … are they just screwing with me? You tell me.