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I always thought that an important rule of retail was not to get into arguments with your customers…

August 2, 2016, 12:32 PM

Do you ever have those days where some people’s behaviors defy logic?  Such is what happened to me at the Giant Food store in Leisure World yesterday.  Generally speaking, if someone is handing you money, it’s generally not a good idea to start arguing with them over something minor to the point of losing the sale.  It was one of those occasions where I was bothered enough by the treatment to write the company about it.  This is what I wrote:

While I was shopping at the Leisure World Giant store, I was very surprised about the treatment that I received from an employee wearing a purple shirt named Ken.  I was buying a single item, and, after seeing an older woman go through the Solution Center for checkout with a single item, I followed suit.  I was very surprised to hear Ken absolutely refuse to check me out for my one item, citing a policy, for which I was unable to locate signage anywhere in the store, that you can’t check out at the solution center.  Ken then proceeded to argue with me over this alleged policy, when it would have taken less time to not argue and just complete the sale.  The store ultimately lost the sale on account of Ken, as the item was not worth getting into an argument over.  Even more surprising was that, with the checkout lines backed up into the aisle, the solution center does not help relieve the pressure on the regular checkouts when they are backed up, such as was the case today.  I have always praised Giant in the past for its level of good customer service, which is generally higher than its peers in the market.  I hope that this sort of behavior, with employees who get into arguments with customers over extremely minor things, is not a “new normal” for Giant.

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How stupid do they think that I am?

March 31, 2015, 1:08 AM

I recently received an envelope in the mail that looked like this:

I saw this envelope, with just an address and what appeared to be a handwritten address, and thought “bill”, since this is how I’ve seen some smaller doctors’ offices do billing.

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I made the mistake of commenting intelligently on a thread populated by very ignorant people…

December 12, 2014, 11:07 AM

…and for that, I am filled with regret.  I thought that perhaps these people would be able to respond to some level of reason.  I was quite wrong on that point.  This time, it was on the “Wilson Memorial Hornets Football” page on Facebook.  I don’t remember how I ended up landing on this page, since I don’t really care about Augusta County high school sports, but somehow, there I was.

For those not familiar, Wilson Memorial High School is located in Fishersville, Virginia.  The school was built at the same time as Stuarts Draft High School, i.e. where I went to high school, and is identical to Stuarts Draft architecturally.  The two schools are traditionally rivals, and play each other every year in football, though now, I believe, as an exhibition game, since the two schools are now in different conferences.

This Facebook page for Wilson football, however, has been a bit controversial.  On December 6, the page’s owner made the following post:

"What a Game!! Faith. Family. Football. We Are... ...WILSON!"

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“It should be legal to push tourists into the Tidal Basin when they don’t watch where they’re going.”

April 28, 2014, 1:22 PM

One tweet just says it all sometimes, doesn’t it?  Such describes my experience on the 13th seeing the cherry blossoms on the Mall.  It was my first time doing that, and, as long as I don’t forget about this experience, it will also be the last time that I do that.  I was reminded once again that large crowds of tourists tend to get on my nerves very quickly.  I was also reminded that I have springtime allergies, as I discovered that putting myself in close proximity to cherry blossoms activates my seasonal allergies.

That said, all of this made my cherry blossom experience something that I was very interested in getting over with not long after I got there.  I took Red Line in, and walked over from Metro Center.  I believe that this sight, near the Holocaust Museum, should have been my warning that this would not necessarily be a pleasant experience:

A trash can overflowing with trash

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A lesson on how not to behave on the phone…

March 3, 2014, 11:05 PM

I got a very interesting series of phone calls Saturday night (technically early Sunday morning) beginning around 2:00 AM.  Apparently a woman was looking to have pizza delivered from one of the many fine pizza establishments located in the District of Columbia.  So she called my phone number.  At two in the morning.  I believe that the initial call was an honest mistake, but after I told her in no uncertain terms that she had not reached a pizza establishment, she firmly earned her place in the customer hall of shame.

The first call came in at 2:04 AM from a New Jersey number.  I ignored the call.  After all, it was 2 AM, I was beyond tired, and I didn’t recognize the number.  I figured that once the person heard my “You have reached Ben Schumin” voicemail greeting, they would figure out that they had dialed a wrong number.  If it did, in fact, end up being for me, they could leave a message, and I would get back with them at my convenience.  And if it turned out to be important, I would have called them back right away.

A voicemail came in from the unfamiliar number.  It was a woman’s voice, and she was looking for pizza:

Hey, I’m interested in purchasing, um, an order for delivery.  Please call me back.  My phone number is 201-981-7557.  I’ve heard great things, and I’m really looking forward to it.  Thank you!  Bye.  (listen to audio)

This seemed reasonable enough so far.  I occasionally get callers who intended to call someone else.  The way I figure, I have a Washington DC number, i.e. 202 area code, and being a major city, there are lots of similar phone numbers, and so there must be a pizza place with a number similar to mine.  Also, noting that 201 is an area code for New Jersey (more specifically, North Jersey), I wondered if perhaps she misdialed the area code, and meant to dial another 201 number rather than a 202 number.  It happens.  After quickly verifying online that the number was, in fact, a cell phone, and wanting to let the caller know that she had not reached the place that she had intended (but at the same time, not wanting to actually talk to her), I sent the caller a quick text message at 2:07, saying, “So you know: I think you may have dialed a wrong number.  I have no idea what you are referring to regarding orders for delivery.”  I figured that would be the end of it, or, at most, get a quick text back apologizing for the mistake.

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Categories: Cell phone, Some people

Your Montgomery County tax dollars at work…

May 30, 2013, 6:42 PM

Yes, fellow Montgomery County residents, your tax dollars pay for what I’m about to describe here.  First of all, let me show you what the original problem was:

Solid green light out on left turn signal out at Veirs Mill Road and Edmonston Drive in Rockville.

Yep… a bulb on a traffic light is out.  This is the corner of Veirs Mill Road and Edmonston Drive in Rockville.  It’s the solid green light on the left turn signal for northbound Veirs Mill drivers turning left onto Edmonston (right here).  I consider a light out on a left turn signal to be a very serious matter, because in many cases, there’s only one of them, and it has many different combinations that can be displayed that all mean different things.  It can be a very dangerous situation if part of that light isn’t working, and therefore unable to signal drivers on how to proceed, since its operation is more complicated than a conventional signal.  Plus, there are usually at least two conventional signals at an intersection anyway, so if one is not working, the other one picks up the slack.  But when there’s only one left turn signal, it has to be running at 100% all of the time.

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Categories: Rockville, Some people

Best grammar lesson ever…

February 6, 2013, 10:26 PM

Sometimes, the best lessons in life are subtle and just sort of fall out of the sky.  This is one of them.  And also remember a few very important rules of the Internet:

  • The rules of proper spelling, capitalization, and punctuation still apply on the Internet.
  • There is no privacy on social media, no matter how much you think otherwise.
  • The Internet does not forgive, nor does it forget.  Once you put it out there, it is out there for everyone to see, and it’s out there forever.
  • The average Internet user is not required or otherwise obligated in any way to protect your identity if you say something stupid online.
  • It is not a violation of anyone’s privacy to circulate a message posted in a public venue.

That said, you are probably starting to realize one thing: someone is about to get nailed for something that they posted on social media.

You are about to find out why it’s best to use the language the way the rest of us learned how to use it.  However, while you may certainly be creative in your ideas and in the ways that you express them, those of us with a healthy respect for the proper usage of the English language request that you please not exercise your creative tendencies when it comes to grammar and spelling.

The incident in question happened on Facebook.  It was in response to a public post on the Power Rangers Facebook page.  The original post had something to do with Power Rangers Megaforce, and really isn’t too germane to what I’m talking about.  I made a comment about the original discussion (I know way too much about Power Rangers, by the way).  And then someone else made a post.  And it was a real doozy.

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This really isn’t rocket science, I promise…

January 10, 2013, 1:28 AM

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the act of placing groceries in bags and giving them back to the customer is really not rocket science.  And in Montgomery County, Maryland, a jurisdiction where there is an excise tax on disposable shopping bags, i.e. a financial incentive to use reusable shopping bags, I don’t believe that it is unreasonable of me to think that a grocery store cashier should know how to handle reusable shopping bags.  Apparently this is an unreasonable expectation.  I went to the Safeway store in Olney this evening after I went swimming, and the cashier did not understand how to handle reusable bags.

This what I bought:

My haul from Safeway in Olney

(And for those of you who are wondering, I took this photo in the store with the intention of posting on Instagram.)

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Well, if being civil makes me a Metro apologist…

May 7, 2012, 11:27 PM

So apparently, my being civil and reasonable on the Twitter when it comes to all matters Metro makes me a Metro apologist. Go figure.

Today, you see, I finally decided that enough was enough when it came to certain “transit advocates” on the Twitter, and unfollowed them. Specifically, I unfollowed @MedievalMetro and @unsuckdcmetro. In both of these cases, there may actually be a point somewhere. But that point is lost in all of the other stuff that they post that is somewhat off message. In MedievalMetro’s case, I think that their main thrust is safety and maintenance concerns. However, they come off as ridiculing Metro, rather than making a point. For example, this tweet, discussing a staircase that was barricaded:

#WMATA even struggles with stairs. #maintenance Columbia Heights. http://twitgoo.com/5ppwz5

That particular one was enough for me to challenge them on it:

@MedievalMetro Without any other context, I can't make any judgment based on this photo. What's your point? #wmata

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Of all the people to cut me off in traffic…

April 19, 2012, 9:41 PM

Of all the people to cut me off in traffic, who cut me off twice while driving south on 16th Street NW? None other than DC Council member Jim Graham of Ward 1. Take a look:

Jim Graham's Volkswagen Bug convertible.
Jim Graham’s Volkswagen Bug convertible.

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Categories: Driving, Some people

I have never before seen such unprofessional behavior from a transit employee…

August 9, 2011, 9:33 PM

First of all, I’m back from Chicago, and Mom and I certainly had fun. We did a whole lot of things while we were there, which included tons and tons of walking – on streets, up and down stairs, and through buildings. If you could walk to it, we walked to it.

But when it was too far to walk, we took the Chicago “L” for the most part. And when I ride a transit system outside of the Washington DC area, rail geekery ensues. By the way, it’s harder for me to get all geeky on Metro for just normal riding as of late, since I take it every day and all.

So on Friday, August 5, Mom and I were heading to the Magnificent Mile from our hotel in Evanston on the “L”, with the intention of going to see the John Hancock Center. Got on at Davis station, where we caught a Purple Line express train to the Loop, and then transfer to a Red Line train at Fullerton. Once on the Red Line, we were getting off at Chicago station.

When we got to Fullerton, we got off our Purple Line train, and stood on the platform awaiting our Red Line train. While waiting, I got busy being a railfan. First I shot a movie:

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Categories: Chicago, CTA, Security, Some people

This is why the next-to-last station will show no trains on the inbound display screen, and why no trains on screen is often acceptable…

May 31, 2011, 9:45 PM

So I was perusing the Twitter this morning, and came upon this tweet by FixWMATA:

Inbound PID at Eisenhower during “Peak of the Peak” morning rush. #wmata http://twitpic.com/5500rj
May 31 7:34 AM

FixWMATA's image of the Eisenhower Avenue PIDS
Photo: FixWMATA

What you are looking at is purported to be the PIDS screen on the inbound side of Eisenhower Avenue station.  Other details in the photo seem to confirm this. The concern being raised here is that the PIDS screen is blank.

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Wednesday’s commute home was perhaps one of the most challenging driving experiences I’ve ever had…

January 28, 2011, 9:09 PM

It was also the most unpleasant, for that matter. Wednesday, January 26, you see, the DC area was hit by a fairly large snowstorm. I think the area got about eight inches of snow, which, by last winter’s standards would be just a dusting, but by this year’s standards so far was a major snowstorm.

I think my biggest mistake was that since I had the car with me (due to work-related errands that I needed to run), I decided to wait to leave until it was likely too late. So I ended up getting a six-hour snow tour around Washington DC, watching transformer explosions light up the sky and testing every nerve in my body in the process. And both the car and I came out just fine, thank you.

I left the office around 5:30 on Wednesday, sending a tweet to announce my departure:

I’m outta here: LSMFT @capitalweather: Heavy snow overspreading entire region http://wapo.st/gp0zP2
January 26 5:27 PM

It was in the early stages of being dark, and I figured I was doing fairly well. Traffic was heavy, but moving, albeit slowly.

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You know, that’s a really personal matter, and I didn’t want to join you for it…

May 17, 2010, 11:45 PM

Tonight, while I was on the phone with a friend who shall remain nameless, I was traumatized. I’m going grocery shopping at Giant, and I’m talking about whatever on the phone with this friend, and then I heard this sound in the background:

*flush*

I asked her, “Are you in the bathroom?” Turned out that we’d been talking in the bathroom for the entire time up to that point. That was a lot more than I wanted to know, unfortunately. The term “oversharing” came to mind. Now mind you, this friend and I are pretty close, and I admit that this friend has seen me in a speedo before (yes, I own one, get over it). But nonetheless, taking the phone into the bathroom is a little bit beyond my comfort zone.

I don’t know about you, but I consider it a shade impolite to take calls in the bathroom. I’ll be in a public restroom and hear someone chatting away while they’re in a stall with their pants around their ankles. What I’ve always wanted to do is to go around the restroom and flush every toilet in there, just to underline the fact to whoever’s on the other end of that call that they’re having that call in the bathroom. You know, President Lyndon Johnson used to take meetings into the bathroom. I’d rather think that this kind of practice stayed in the 1960s, but apparently it’s alive and well with cell phones, where people will take a call just about anywhere. I would have been more than understanding if my friend had not taken my call and then called me back once they were off the commode.

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Categories: Friends, Some people

Sometimes I don’t know why I bother…

January 20, 2010, 10:47 PM

Sometimes I don’t know why I bother. I try to get a little discourse going on a political issue with a known hostile crowd on Facebook, and their arguments become so nonsensical that it finally becomes pointless to continue. But then again, it’s also kinda fun. Most recently, it started with this as someone’s status message:

[Name] is lifting up prayers that this healthcare bill DOES NOT PASS

Okay, so we’ve got an opinion. They want to see the healthcare bill fail. So let’s dig in:

Ben Schumin Why don’t you want to see it pass?

So I’ve started the discussion. Why don’t they want to see it pass? Personally, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I won’t get what I really want out of this health care thing (single-payer for all), but it’s still better than nothing, as it outlaws a number of the health insurance industry’s dirty tricks, like denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and recission of coverage. We can then build on this later to ultimately end up where we really ought to be down the road.

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