Monday, June 21, 2010

My Last Night In London

My last night in London began with a morning in Paris. It was such a sunny pleasant day. My face sported a subtle green hue as a result of my new found affinity for escargot, which in a moment of weakness, I ate for breakfast. It wasn’t entirely good you might say. On my way to the train, I found myself along the wall overlooking the Seine and I encountered a gentleman whom I will call, the Japanese Business Man. The Japanese Business Man made a pleasant greeting, and we spoke briefly. He asked me about my Country, and told me of his. He observed that I did not look well, and I agreed. He inquired if I had a BM that day. I explained that I suffered nausea and not cramps, and thanked him for asking. And then we parted, I for my train, and he for Orly. That I can recall this moment of discourse all these years later gives me a smile.

The train I boarded was destined for Boulogne a few hours away. A bottle of Avian water helped to ease my discomfort along the way. At Boulogne we boarded the hovercraft, and then bound away across the Channel. From Dover, yet another train delivered us to Victoria Station at about 4:00 local time. It addition to tea time, it was also rush hour, and the lateness of our arrival did not disclose the recent local rail strike. My fellow travelers chose a prompt return to the hotel because tomorrow, we fly. Teresa and I decided on a last moment shopping trip to Oxford Circus. Due to the strike, there were two tubes opened in the city that day. One pulled up a block from our hotel, and the other passed through Oxford Circus. Our companions boarded the first train, and we boarded the second and went about our ways.

I recalled passing a shop in this neighborhood two weeks before, where I spied a set of Wedgewood; creamer and sugar. I knew that my Mother would be pleased with such a gift, and I had previously resolved to return and make their purchase. Teresa joined me at the shop, and watched me select the set in Wedgewood green (and my mother so loves blue). Teresa made her last buys, and we beat a retreat toward the tube station. The tubes were now closed.

Back on the street, we discovered that, unlike us, every single Londoner was already aware of the strike, and were patiently waiting in queue for the bus. We found our place at the end of a very long line as clouds began to pass across the sky. I’ll be damned if it didn’t get downright chilly late that afternoon, the beginning of another perversely cold London summer night (it was the first night of summer you see). Teresa had worn shorts for the occasion, and she didn’t seem comfortable at all. I felt bad for her, but there was little I could do.

Two hours later, we were still standing in the same place, in the same line. We had hardly budged a few short feet. My patience for enduring this adventure was drawing to an end. I tried standing in a different queue designated for the taxi. A cab was more dear, but what the hell, this is my last night in London. What else am I going to do with a pocket full of British change two weeks hence? The invisible hand of the extravagant fare made this queue much shorter, and after another half an hour, we fetched a ride directly to our hotel. We arrived just in time to step out for dinner, but first I inspected my lodgings. The room was more of a closet, but at least I had it to myself. I took a switchblade from my pocket and left it with my baggage, because in this country, it was against the law.

During my earlier stay two weeks before, I had developed a preference for a pub very near our hotel. I believe it was Fenster’s, and it was next to the tubes, which by the way, were now closed for the night. I journeyed to the pub on foot. The French cuisine in the morning had been a cause for regret, so I was wary of testing the British cuisine that evening, such as it is. But I was optimistic for a couple of rounds of ale, enjoying the chatter (in English) and watching the news on the telee. A sudden hush fell across the crowd.

The evening would be a celebrated moment across the kingdom. The reporter on the screen stood at the entrance of the hospital, just a few blocks away to announce the arrival to Princess Diana a son, the Second Heir Apparent, Prince William. I raised a glass to the health and long life of the royal mother and son, in spite of my Yankee ways. Later I would grieve on the night she died, but for that night, I shared their country’s joy.

That day, June 20, 1982, was for me a remarkable adventure off in foreign lands. I hope that Teresa did not catch a cold that afternoon, but after these many years, this is one detail I cannot clearly recall.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Token of My Esteem

The virtue of your pristine skin
Impaled upon my poisoned pen
Will swell my cheek with stifled mirth
I cast your values down to earth!

Your prudish howls of outrage flee
Before my sabled sense of glee
For sacred good I have no time
I'm busy with my nasty rhymes

Of naughty deeds my verse regales
For what's a wag without a tale?
I want to make small children cry
And the hope of saints to ebb and die

My insult's now almost complete
Your just dessert, a raspberry treat!
To those who whine that I disgrace
I present my arse for your embrace!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Looking Forward to Closing This Sale

My enthusiasm for having a sale on my house pending has been tempered by all the last minute annoyances associated with the repairs that were made necessary by the burglary last year. For those who may not be familiar with this sad story, some unidentified person (who was never acquainted with his father as a result of his mother's failure to secure a marriage license. Presumably the fleet sortied before these arrangements could be completed) broke into the basement of my empty house that was for sale, and stole all the copper pipe he could lay his hands on quickly and conveniently. The process of getting the door installed proved to be excruciating in the extreme. The plumbing work was completed weeks ago and I supposed that it would not be a source of any further concern. I was mistaken.

I was shocked and saddened to discover during the home inspection that when the plumber was replacing copper pipes that had been stolen, he overlooked one pipe. there was a line that connected the drain underneath the kitchen sink to the main drain in the basement. We discovered it was missing when the home inspector turned on the kitchen sink and water started pouring out into the cabinet. This was somewhat embarrassing as you can well imagine.

I contacted the plumber last week and told the person who answered about the problem. What I left unstated (since I thought it would be understood) was that I had already received a check from my insurance company as a payout on a claim and that the payout was based on the plumber's original estimate. As far as I am concerned, the cost of completing this work was fully stated in the estimate. The person I first spoke to said he would deliver a message. I did not receive a return call.

I left another message earlier this week with the secretary, and she assured me with the most darling and cheerful attitude that the plumber would "make it right". I should be so lucky. I received a voicemail from the owner yesterday saying that while he would be pleased to complete this work, there would be an additional cost. This voicemail made me unhappy.

I sent a politely worded email yesterday insisting that he complete this work since it should have been done in the first place. Since the relationship we have previously enjoyed was never marred with misunderstanding, I have always considered word-of-mouth arrangements to be suitable and convenient for all parties. From now on, all communications will be in writing (this means business!). Even though this email was dispatched to the plumber yesterday afternoon, there was still no reply as of noon today.

So around 1:00, I sent the plumber an ultimatum.

Now I appreciate that some might ask, "If you want someone to agree with you, is it really wise to seek out a confrontation? Isn't an ultimatum too harsh?" Perhaps so; but I'm not willing to admit as much just yet. A classic ultimatum includes three essential elements; a demand; a deadline; and a threat. Below is the ultimatum I sent to my plumber. Judge for yourself whether I have been too aggressive for my own good.

Jolly Plumbing:

Yesterday I sent an email for which I have yet to receive a reply. Please know that since this email refers to a service issue on a property that is pending a closing on a contract for sale in two weeks, I consider a prompt reply a matter of urgency. I have attached a copy of yesterday’s email.

I will restate my request from yesterday’s email to have the replacement of the missing drain pipe in the basement of 422 Highway Avenue completed without additional costs to me, but with one modification. I am willing to pay for the additional cost of materials for the replacement of the drain pipe from the kitchen to the basement. However, I remain unwilling to pay for any additional labor costs. I am convinced that the replacement of this drain pipe should have been included in the original work, and I do not think it is reasonable to charge me for additional labor in completing this work.

I think that any third party reviewing the circumstances of this contract would agree that a home owner would not contract a plumber to replace some, but not all, of the pipes stolen during a burglary. My intention clearly was to have all the stolen pipes replaced. While I might concede that I would have incurred the material costs in any event, the labor cost I have already incurred should be sufficient to have the job completed in its entirety.

I must emphasize my need for a quick response from you to this email. The deadline of the pending sale causes this urgency. I need to know your intentions no later than noon Eastern Standard Time on Friday 09 April 2010. I have an urgent preference to resolving this matter amicably between us, and without referring to any outside or third parties for solution.


JD Carruthers

I guess we will see tomorrow how well this works.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Blogging In The Rain

So I promised to make an update on the weekend camping in the rain, but I never did. I also promised to make an update on my epic struggle with Home Depot, and I never did this either. Events and circumstances conspired against me in fulfilling these promises. The event was an offer tendered to buy our house which has been on the market for over two years. This was something of a distraction. The circumstances were that I occasionally undergo bouts of adult attention deficit disorder, and am also somewhat indolent by inclination. I get to these things when it amuses me to tend to them.

So about that camping trip; it was a blast as I might have expected. I am pleased to report that the rain was mostly intermittent during the weekend, mostly at night after I had taken shelter snuggled in my fifteen degree sleeping bag and reclining in my new Hennessey Hammock. The weekend was a fitting out experience of sorts; both the bag and the hammock were new gear that I was using in the woods for the first time. I found that setting up the hammock for the very first time under a drizzling sky in the middle of the night was probably not the best informed decision I have ever made, but I managed nonetheless. However, I have a confession to make. This camping trip was actually a training session for Leave No Trace (I am now a certified Leave No Trace Trainer, Huzzah!). But during that first night, as the midnight hour drew near and I was fumbling in the dark with the lines on my hammock, I inadvertently set it up directly over a thorny vine (we call these ‘saw briars’ here in the southern heartland). My dilemma involved moving the hammock to yet another set of trees in the darkness (this was my second site) or leaving a trace by cutting the briar. I will leave it to your imagination which choice I made.

The extra-warm sleeping bag I was using for the first time offered its own challenges. Ordinarily I would use a mat underneath a sleeping bag for insulation purposes. Since this was the first time I slept in the hammock, I had not taken the precaution of bringing a sleeping pad on this trip. This was a mistake. For all those campers who plan on sleeping in a hammock in cold weather, if you do not have an insulating pad, you will get cold eventually (even if your bag is rated for 15 degrees). The first night I got cold about 2:00 in the morning and slept fitfully afterwards. The second night I was lucky in that I did not get cold until 4:00 in the morning and slept fitfully afterwards. Fortunately, the rain fly over the hammock functioned like a dream and I stayed nice and dry inside my digs in spite of the overnight showers.

I was also trying out a new rain suit on this trip. The suit was ‘FroggToggs’ and shed the rain quite nicely thank you. I wore a pair of rubber boot all weekend long which was handy since I spent much of the weekend standing about in mud and water above the ankles. They were not insulated, so eventually my feet got cold as the wool socks I was wearing began to get damp with perspiration and condensation. But what would the fun of camping be if not for a few adverse moments?

So what did I learn about leaving no trace? Lots of stuff; more things than I can reasonably relate in a single blog; perhaps I will devote more time to the details in smaller doses as time progresses. The most important lesson from my perspective was a reinforcement of a set of values that I already had. My personal sense of spirituality derives in large part from my love of the outdoors and the environment. Spending a weekend considering the means of preserving that environment unspoiled was a devotional moment; the cold and rain and mud and comradeship of likeminded fellow travelers were nothing less than unique facets on a rough diamond.

But enough of my amystical post neo-pagan views (I have long resolved to keep my religion to myself because I consider spirituality similar to sexuality; personal and not generally a topic for public discussion). I promised an epilog of the door drama, and the epilog you shall have. When last I wrote about my struggles with Home Depot, I was negotiating with the store manager for an alternative installation date. During the middle of this negotiation process, the offer to buy the house arrived and changed our plans somewhat. Originally our family planned to travel to Hometown to visit the Grandparents on the weekend of the 27th, but since the home inspection was now scheduled for that date I asked for the installation to occur at the same time. I could kill two proverbial birds with one metaphorical stone.

It is important in my view always to accentuate the positive when there is opportunity, so I will say that the contractor retained to install the door arrived on time. Also, the door is now fully installed and looks good.

So now that I have said good things about this experience, I feel at more at liberty to give voice to some bitterness I harbor over the installation process. I have two major objections in mind. First, the contractor arrived with the correct size door, but without any of the hardware that goes with a door such as door knob, lock, etc. His strategy was to remove the hardware from the old door that was to be removed, and this would have worked fine had not the original door been kicked in during a burglary. The kick unfortunately damaged the bolt for the doorknob, and in the process of trying to repair it, the contractor lost one of the pieces. He scratched his head and advised me in a down-home folksy sort of way that I would need to make sure the replacement part I purchased at my earliest convenience should be manufactured by Schlage so that it would match the undamaged parts that he had cannibalized and was condescending to install in the new door. Since by this time it was mid afternoon, and I had a ravenous eleven-year old boy with me who was in desperate need of feeding, I let the opportunity for one of my famously caustic replies pass with merely a grim smile. Next, the contractor chatted with me cheerfully about how the manufacturer had sent the wrong sized door on the previous occasion, and how annoying that must have been to drive all the way from Lexington, all the while assembling on my basement floor a large pile of dust, debris, broken glass and scrap wood with bent and rusted nails jutting menacingly all around. It dawned on me fairly quickly that the friendly contractor with such sensitivity to that which is irksome in the customer service process had every intention of leaving this pile behind for me to deal with. To quote Hamlet, “Oh my prophetic soul!” The contractor smiled and waved as he drove away. I didn’t bother returning the compliment; I only gave him another grim smile.

That afternoon I returned to Lexington after feeding Primo at the Old Country Store. The next day I returned to Northern Kentucky (my third trip for this one door installation) to purchase and install the door bolt on the new door, and to clean up the mess left by the Happy Contractor.

Did I mention that I would never do business with Home Depot again?

Friday, March 19, 2010

More Drama With Home Depot Disservice

As each day progresses, I am impressed by the ability of management at Home Depot to intensify my dissatisfaction and sense of outraged annoyance with their service. Unfortunately this is not a favorable impression.

When we left off, HD had called me to say that they did not have an actual door to install, which presented a technical difficulty since I had paid for a door installation. I was told that a door had not yet even been built for this order. And as you might recall, since my wife was at that moment taking a vacation day and sitting on the porch of the house an hour and a half drive away in another city awaiting the installer, I asked the next logical question, "how long shall I tell my wife to wait?" "It won't be today" was the reply. So I called her and told her to come home.

Fast forward about 7 hours later, I received a call from a manager at HD who left the message that they now had a door to install (earlier it had not yet been built; I wonder if they bought it at Lowe's). By this time the since of liberation that came when they had compounded their error was wearing thin, and since I have used all my cell minutes plus some working on this problem, I resolved to return their call later. I wanted to give myself some time to cool off.

I received another call from the HD store manager today. Since I was at work and on a call with one of my own customers, I let it go to voice mail. Mr. Manager's message was an invitation to call him back on his direct line to discuss the tragic tale of the wayward door. In addition to his number, he said that I could return his call until 2:00 when he would leave for the day.

My lunch is from noon until 1:00 and since I had already wasted considerable time during my working hours with this (my supervisor has the patience of a saint) I decided to call him back in the last half of my lunch hour; around 12:40. I wanted to keep the conversation short, and I didn't want it to spoil my appetite.

When I called the manager's direct line, it rang about twenty times before a woman answered. I introduced myself and asked to speak to Mr. Manager.

"Oh, he's gone for the day".

It was just now 12:45. "He told me that he would be in until 2:00" I replied. I did not bother to point out that it was not yet 1:00; I presumed she understood this subtle yet crucial point.

"Uh, well I just spoke to him a half hour ago and he said he was leaving for the day".

Given the long sad history of this process, I was not surprised in the least. But wait, it gets better!

"May I leave a message?" I asked in my most polite, professional tone.

Wait for it...

She replied, "well, if you leave a message here with me, it will never get back to the managers". This was a refreshing breath of honesty, even as it was not particularly reassuring. "Let me transfer your call to the back".

Apparently when she said "back" she was referring to the "outback" because I spent the next ten minutes on hold. Did I mention that I had already used up all my cell minutes for this month? Their hold music was not even as entertaining as "The Girl From Ipanema"; it was a loop of advertisements about opportunities to purchase quality products from Home Depot ("just ask any of our associates for details"). When my lunch hour was over I abandoned the call and went back to work.

So now it is 2:20 and I just received another call from Mr. Manager. He left a voicemail. This time he gave me his cell number to call. Unfortunately, by now I have exhausted my cellphone battery along with all my minutes.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

And the Saga Continues...

Anxiety and liberation. Those are the themes for today's blog. Think of these as the metaphorical cousins to "War and Peace".

Yesterday was a day of anxiety for me. You recall that I wrote about my tumultuous dealings with Home Depot and the installation of a door at my house that is for sale (by the way, are any of you interested in buying a house?). St. Patrick's Day was D-Day in this dispute. When I did not receive a return call after leaving two voicemail messages, I called HD's corporate "customer service" telephone number and pretty much read the riot act. Without dwelling too much on details, let's just say that I was not my ordinarily charming self (I was not vulgar, but I was also not pleasant). After a half dozen more calls and spending all my lunch and break time in wrangling negotiations, it was finally settled that my wife was taking a vacation day from work and traveling the hour and a half to Northern Kentucky to sit and wait while the contractor installed the door. (I would have gone myself except that I don't have any vacation time; taking off work for me is money out of our household resources). The installation was scheduled between 9:00 and 10:00 this morning.

It might interest the reader to know that I have twenty years of experience in customer service including experience as a supervisor for a brokerage company. As a matter of fact, my current employment has me working in a telephone call center as an information technology customer service specialist. This is relevant for two reasons. First, I have a keen understanding of what companies should do in order to deliver quality customer service. HD has been the poster child for what not to do. Second, I was busy on the telephone this morning delivering quality customer service to my customer when my cell phone rang with HD's number populating the caller id window around 9:30.

This did not bode well.

Since I was busy with my own caller, I disregarded the call for the moment hoping that they would leave a voice mail. In less than a minute, my phone was ringing again, and again it was Home Depot.

This really did not bode well.

On this second call I saw that there was a voice mail, so I devoted my attention to my customer's needs and wrapped that business up before calling my inbox. This is where the moment of liberation began.

The manager at Home Depot started by saying there was a problem. The manufacturer had built and delivered the wrong sized door. They would need to make other arrangements for installing our door. Sigh.

Some people given my circumstances might have been inclined to lose their temper at such news, but I confess that I take too much satisfaction from being in a position to say "I told you so" to view this as anything but amusing. I called Home Depot back with a sense of calm confidence.

The woman who answered was already familiar with my case, and explained that the manufacturer had built a 36" door instead of a 34" door, and it could not be made to fit. Since there were none in stock anywhere physically proximate to our doorway, other arrangements would need to be made.

I pointed out that my wife had driven an hour and a half this morning to Ludlow and was waiting on the porch for the installer even as we were speaking. I asked the manager how long should I tell her that she could expect to wait today.

"We won't have a door today" she replied. I knew beforehand that was going to be the answer, but I wanted to hear her say it. She went on to explain that they would have to have a door built, and they would be back in contact once they had the correct door in hand. I considered for the moment of suggesting that they call Lowe's to see if they had one in stock, but I decided that they may not view this as particularly helpful. Instead I started to point out all the inconvenience my wife had taken to be at the house and on time for the installation, but the manager hastened to add that there would be compensation for us in the form of a rebate.

And that was all I really wanted to hear from the beginning; a little flexibility on their part.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Home Depot: The Sanctum Sanctorum of Corporate Policy

The Home Depot store located at 500 Clock Tower Way in Crescent Springs Kentucky, 41017 specializes in customer DIS-service. There, I said it; and I meant it.

Last August, some disreputable punk or punks kicked in the back door to a house that I have for sale in Ludlow Kentucky in order to steal the copper pipes from within. This caused about $2000 worth of damage in order to retrieve about $20 worth of copper. I can laugh at these creeps because I would have gladly paid them $50 just to leave my house alone. I guess the joke is on them, isn't it?

By the way, are any of you interested in buying a house?

Anyway, I summoned the police and filed a report, and then went about contacting my insurance company to file a claim. Before the claim could be processed, I needed to have estimates in hand, and since Ludlow is an hour and a half drive from my new home in Lexington, and since about this same time I took a second shift job, the process of obtaining estimates was long and arduous. I had to contact at least a half dozen plumbers before I could finally get one to do the estimate and work.

I made the arrangements for replacing the back door in person at the Home Depot store referred to above during one of my rare return trips to Northern Kentucky. I explained to the salesman my need for the installation of a replacement door, and I emphasized at the very earliest moment that I LIVE IN ANOTHER TOWN AN HOUR AND A HALF DRIVE AWAY; RETURNING HERE IN PERSON IS INCONVENIENT TO ME. It seemed that he understood my point.

It is important to note that the background story to my need to buy a door involved a personally invasive and highly charged emotional experience. I think that the salesman understood this point as well.

To make sure that I was purchasing the correct sized door, it was necessary for the contractor retained by HD to go to my house and take measurements. At first the manager at HD said that it would be necessary for me to be there to open the door for the contractor. I took this opportunity again to emphasize that a round trip of three hours was in convenient for me under the circumstances, and that the house was empty and for sale. The contractor agreed to use the realtor's lock box containing the key to gain entry, and I did not need to make the trip.

When I finally received the settlement check from the insurance company, I first contacted the plumber who gladly came and worked on my house, using the lock box key, at his convenience. I did not need to be personally present in my empty house during this installation, which was great since taking time off work and traveling all that way is such an inconvenience.

Next I contacted Home Depot to schedule the installation of my door. The store first insisted that I pay for the door and service, and after taking my payment informed me that I would need to contact the contractor separately to schedule the installation. I was mildly annoyed that Home Depot did not handle the scheduling, but in my gladness to see a end to this process that was now into its seventh month, I set that annoyance out of my mind.

Within a few days I spoke directly to the contractor, who suggested that the installation could take place between 1:00 and 3:00 on Tuesday, March 16th (yes, that is today as I write this). I said this would be fine, but that since I worked in another city an hour and a half drive away, I could not be there in person. The contractor said this was fine with her.

So I'm thinking this is a done deal. I go away for the weekend to camp in the woods and in the rain and mud for two days. At some point during these two days in the woods, the contractor called again and left a voice-mail.

Essentially her message was that Home Depot had contacted her and advised her that she may not do any work on my house without my being personally present. Recall if you will that I have made it clear at every step in this process that my being present personally is an inconvenience. In fact, it is a hardship. I just started a new job and I do not have the ability to take a paid day off. Attending to this personally means losing a day's pay. Considering that this is a service for which I am paying, for which I have already paid in advance, I do not consider this requirement at all reasonable. But my far deeper concern is that I had already made these arrangements with the contractor who did not object at the time the arrangements were made, and somebody at Home Depot came along afterward and disrupted my plans. The unnamed party at HD who did this acted after I had already paid for this service in advance.

Naturally I saw that the obstacle was at Home Depot, and not with the contractor. So last night I called HD and insisted in a rather urgent and yet professional tone that I was due an explanation and a correction. The manager that I spoke to advised me (get ready; sit down for this)...

...what I was asking for was against company policy.

The rest of this conversation degenerated fairly quickly. The manager claimed that the forms HD uses include a disclosure about having the property owner present during work, to which I replied that they had already waived that requirement by coming out to take the door measurements when I was not there. "Well that shouldn't have happened; against company policy". I pointed out that actually acting in a manner contrary to what one has written down on paper isn't much of a policy, is it? He asked me to (brace yourself) to "work with me" on this. This of course means that I should give in and accommodate their convenience in receiving the services that I have already paid for in advance.

Each passing moment of this conversation intensified my resentment. "I am BITTERLY dissatisfied with the quality of Home Depot's customer service, and I will NEVER do business with your company again" I advised him. "Furthermore, I intend on telling all my friends about my experience, and I have many friends". Now it was his turn to show resentment. He insisted that I was being unreasonable since, after all, this did involve a question of theologically correct corporate policy. And don't forget that the forms had a disclosure and all that.

"The friends I tell won't care or even hear about notes or policies or disclosures" I told him. "They will only hear that I was bitterly dissatisfied, because that is all I am going to tell them".

The idea that I would not act as a fair and impartial advocate on behalf of his employer apparently had not occurred to the manager before I pointed it out, because this was followed by a moment of silence.

"My point in this dispute is that your company took my money and now you are not delivering that which I expect. If your company policy requires you not to deliver what customers expect, perhaps it is not such a hot policy."

This was followed by more babble about taking it to another level of management but it would be to no avail since, after all, this was a company policy and all that. He couldn't understand why I wouldn't agree to driving up after work some day during the week. I pointed out that since I worked until 5:00 each day, a three hour round trip plus three hours of installation time (sitting around in an empty house) would put me back around midnight. Rather than argue, I told him that I could be personally present for the installation anytime next Sunday (incidentally, the reader should take note that I have plans for every Saturday from now until June). Manager said he would investigate that alternative and call me back Tuesday (today; this morning).

A different manager called me this morning. After welcoming me with a "good morning" she advised me that contractors never work on the weekends, especially not Sundays, but that they could make an exception by having someone come to work on my installation on Saturday March 27th. "Will that work for you?"

"No, it won't." Silence. "I have plans to travel out of town that weekend". (Which is true; our family is traveling to Murray to visit the grandparents so that they can celebrate my son's 11th birthday. This has been planned for weeks). There was more silence on the line.

Needless to say, this conversation (during my work hours I might add) did not go any better than the conversation the night before. The only consideration this new manager was able to provide was the telephone number for the corporate offices where I could call to complain (and presumably receive yet another sermon on the sanctity of corporate policies).

In deference to myself (which I think is fair since I am writing this), I have spent the past twenty years as a customer service professional. I demand quality customer service precisely because I deliver quality customer service to my clients.

Several years ago, when I was a brokerage supervisor, I worked for a manager named Dave who I looked to as an exemplar and mentor. Manager Dave once told me, "the customer is not always right; but he is always the customer". I think this is a lesson Home Depot should take to heart.