The Incident at A.C. Moore

Yesterday, I needed to take care of some errands.  And one of those errands involved returning some framing materials to the local A.C. Moore hobby shop in Latham.  No big crisis – I bought too many products for my project, and I wanted to return the unused portions and put that money back on my credit card.

I arrived at A.C. Moore.  The place had a few shoppers, but it wasn’t very busy.

As I returned my materials and presented my receipt to prove i purchased the items at A.C. Moore … this happened.

Continue reading “The Incident at A.C. Moore”

No, VIDA, you can’t have my photos…

Here’s my issue with telemarketers and cold calls.  They give you this whole crock about how they love your (writing, photos, look) and they want to (promote your work, hire you for events, cast you in a movie), and although they (have no budget, want you to pay, still want you in the movie), they really want to have you accept (being paid in exposure, being supportive of charities, wear a bag over your face because you’re too ugly to be in the movie).

I pick and choose my charitable donations very carefully.  And I mean VERY carefully.  So when someone from a company called VIDA cold-emailed me about wanting to use my photos as part of a line of clothing and accessories … with the proceeds going to charitable Middle Eastern efforts … it intrigued me.

Then I actually read their pitch.

And it went from “I’m intrigued” to “what kind of horseshit are you trying to push me into?”

Continue reading “No, VIDA, you can’t have my photos…”

Help Ryan West Win the #RyFight

Nearly eighteen months ago, I learned that my good friend, bar trivia host Ryan West, was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. He was only 31 years old at the time of the diagnosis.

Ryan’s friends rallied around their stricken comrade, and through all of Ryan’s next months of chemotherapy and treatment, they kept his spirits high and helped him every single day of this new journey.

And although the journey has been difficult – as it would be for anyone – there were moments of brightness and joy.   He married his longtime love Clover, they traveled to far-off and amazing locales, and he received several personal tributes and cheers from a growing rooting section of friends, trivia associates, Ultimate Disc aficionados, and the like.

The journey’s not over.  Every single day that Ryan adds to his timeline and to his lifeline is another day when cancer gets beaten back.  Every day that Ryan lives is another day that cancer loses.

But we know cancer doesn’t completely go away.  And these last few months, according to his blog, have been brutal.  On April 4, his wife Clover posted on Ryan’s blog that his cancer is still growing, and new medications must be taken.

Son of a bitch.  The cancer is fighting back. Continue reading “Help Ryan West Win the #RyFight”

Another Verizon “nickel and dime” trick

verizonfailIt started last week, when I noticed something different about the phone numbers on my Caller ID feature from my BlackBerry PRIV cell phone.

Normally, when I receive a call from someone, their phone number pops up as a Caller ID message.  And if I’ve programmed their name into the phone, then their name comes up as well.  Then again, I also sort my calls by giving the most important people in my life special custom-made ringtones.

But last week, I noticed that a new caller had appeared on my Caller ID.  And not by number – by name.  And the name wasn’t one that I had previously programmed.

Apparently during one of my phone updates, I somehow “subscribed” to a free trial of Verizon’s Caller ID Name feature.  With this little feature, Verizon would graciously add the name of the person or business or entity calling me, just in case I wouldn’t be able to figure out the caller by a telephone number.

Yesterday, I discovered how “free” the service really is.

Verizon sent me a message saying that my “free trial” was finished, and if I wanted to continue using the service, it would be added to my bill for the low cost of $2.99/month.

Wow.  Talk about “opting in.”

Nice try, Verizon.  I don’t need to pay an additional $3/month for get something that you should be providing to me for free anyway.  My PRIV has the ability to already program numbers and names and faces into my phone; and there’s even an option where it will match up a person’s name with their Facebook photo, should I possibly forget who they look like.

Seriously, Verizon?  You’re going to nickel and dime me over this?  What’s next, you gonna charge me an additional tariff for making phone calls to left-handed parties?  You gonna charge me a surcharge if I dial the old Times Union pre-recorded sports hotline from 1996?  You gonna charge me additional if I take more than one carry-on bag with me on the flight?  Sorry, got my Verizon rant mixed up with my United rant.

I tell you what, Verizon.  I’ll make you a deal.  I’ll pay you the additional $3/month tribute … on one condition.

In return for paying this vigorish, you immediately block all the spambots and robocallers and swindlers and scam artists who seem to think my phone is some sort of home base in a game of scam Tag.  Block all those vehicle service contract companies and timeshare sellers and phishers from “Windows Technical Support” and give me some peace of mind.

Because right now I’m in a very bad place, healthwise and psyche-wise.

And I shouldn’t have to deal with nickel-and-dime surcharges from Big Telecom.

Yeah.  I hope you can hear me now, Red Check.

Or maybe, as always, you’re giving me the Rhett Butler response to my concerns.

You know … “Frankly, Mr. Miller, we don’t give a damn.”

Gotta love the Burger King drive-through

So yeah, if it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all.

Last Friday, I drove home from one of my doctor’s appointments.  I’m hungry as anything, and I’m already in pain from my left foot being completely wrecked.  I need some comfort food.  Nothing major, maybe a chicken sandwich and a diet cola.

Oh look, there’s a Burger King.  Just what I need.  I’ll order my food through the drive-through speaker, pick it up, drive home.  Simple.

It looked like I wasn’t the only person who had dreams of dining with the King that Friday night, there was a decent-sized line at the drive-through.  No bigge, it’s not like I’m in any sort of a hurry.  Just give me my food and I’ll be happy.

Chicken sandwich, diet cola.  No, I don’t want the meal.  Just the sandwich and the diet cola, I’m not a big fan of Burger King’s fries.  Yes, I’ll pull around to the window.

I get to the transfer window and hand the employee my credit card to pay for my meal.  A few moments later, she hands me back the diet cola.

As I reach for the diet cola, I hear something cluttering to the ground.

Yep.  The Burger King employee tried to hand me my credit card and my soda at the same exact time.  Now I’m not an expert in fast food procedures, but I’m certainly of the belief that if someone’s in a car at a drive-through window, they really only have one available hand – their left – to reach for the food.  And that being said, any other time I’ve driven through a fast-food drive-through area, the cashier hands me back my credit card (along with my receipt) separately from my food.

I looked around.  The card was on the ground, but I couldn’t see it from my vantage point.

“Uh-oh,” the employee said, “You dropped your card.”

I dropped it?  Seriously?  You handed it to me with my drink, I’ve only got one hand to reach for it, and I’m lucky I was able to grasp the slippery drink cup, let alone know that you were going to slip my credit card in my hand at the same time…

“Can you help me get the card from the ground?”

“I can’t do that, sir.”

I opened the car door.  No sign of the credit card.  I know it’s on the ground, but I can’t see it.  It must be behind the door somewhere.

“Is there someone inside who can help me out?”

Someone who looked like a manager approached the window.

“He dropped his credit card,” the employee said.

“Can someone help me get the card?”

“I’m sorry,” said the manager, “I’d have to walk all around the back of the building to just get outside to help you out.”

Horn from behind.  Apparently someone’s not happy that they have to wait for a Whopper.

I opened my car door again.  Slid my hand under the door frame.  Patted the ground left and right.  Finally, one of my fingertips went from rough stone to smooth plastic.  A couple of seconds later, the credit card was back in my car.

At this point, the employee finally decided to hand me my chicken sandwich and my credit card receipt.  “Have a nice day,” she sing-songed to me.


Granted, you’re going to say to me, “Chuck, what do you expect, it’s a bunch of minimum-wage Burger King workers, don’t take it personally.”

Yeah.  No.  At this point in time, with everything miserable happening to me of late, I AM taking this personally.  If the cashier wasn’t so lazy that she tried to hand me everything in one quick pass, knowing that a driver can only reach for the food with one hand without turning their body like an Egyptian hieroglyph, then I wouldn’t gripe so much.  And yeah, I could have used the “Hey, I’ve got a busted foot, help me out here” line, but I’m still upset about that part of my life right now.

All I wanted that night was some simple comfort food.

And I left the restaurant feeling angrier and more upset than before I arrived.

Yeah.  This is working out REALLY well…


The get-well-soon card that wasn’t.

As you know, six months ago my beloved 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt SS was destroyed in a horrible car accident.  And since then, I’ve received a plethora of cold-calls from extended vehicle service contract telemarketers who want me to sign up for their $3,000+ contracts that wouldn’t even replace an air freshener without a copayment.

And I wondered to myself, as I fielded these intrusive and persistent calls, “Why in God’s name am I getting these calls?  Why won’t they leave me alone?  Why must they continue to remind me that my beautiful Blackbird is no longer in my life?”

Then, last night, the mystery may have been solved.

And it came in the form of what looked like a mailed greeting card.

Now mind you, I’m already in a miserable mood from all the damage I’ve incurred, both physically and psychologically, in the past few weeks.  It seems like everywhere I turn, I’m either getting marginalized, criticized, condescended, or castigated.  So when I saw the card in my mailbox, I thought, “Oh, this looks as if someone took the time to send me a get-well-soon card.  How nice.”

Then I saw the postage stamp.  Pre-sorted First Class.  Yep.  I didn’t even have to open it to know that it was junk mail.  Ugh.

Oh well… before I toss it in the trash, let’s see what company wants to sell me something.

Oh.  It’s a Mangino Mitsubishi Black Friday Sales Event flyer.  And it’s personalized to me – well, it’s personalized to “Charles Miller,” which if you know me, you know that’s not my personal name of choice.

Okay, let’s open the flyer and see what Mangino Mitsubishi is selling for the holidays.  Probably a lot of Mitsubishis, I would suspect.

And then I saw the sales pitch.


Are you freakin’ kidding me?

Yep, this flyer has memorialized that I bought my Blackbird from Mangino Mitsubishi in 2012, and now they want to buy it back.  There’s even a post-it note that says, “See me personally for a great deal! Mike.”  And they just want to see the car before they make me “an offer I can’t refuse.”

What, if I don’t sell you my car, I’m going to wake up with a horse’s head in my bed?  Or worse – I could end up with the other end of the horse in my bed?

Everything in this little advertisement is supposed to convince me that “Mike” is truly interested in contacting me to buy my car.  That Mike is reaching out to people who bought cars from Mangino Mitsubishi in the past.  That Mike is trying to reach his goal of acquiring $2 million in pre-owned inventory, and that my Cobalt SS can help him reach this goal.

And what, if he doesn’t reach the goal, then he gets fired?  Is this some sort of Glengarry Glenn Ross / Death of a Salesman pitch?

I flipped the advertisement over.  And on the back of the flyer, in teeny-tiny small print, I saw a clue – not only to the reason this mailer was even sent, but maybe a clue to why I’ve been inundated with cold calls for vehicle service contracts on my destroyed drive.

The flyer was listed as (c) 2016 Kennedy Marketing Group, Inc.

Yep.  Mangino Mitsubishi subcontracted this little project to Kennedy Marketing Group, Inc., a direct marketing firm out of San Clemente, California.  A quick perusal of their website revealed this little nugget.


So what we have here isn’t just a sales pitch.  It’s a sales pitch PRETENDING to come from a real company, PRETENDING to be a real salesperson PRETENDING to have genuine concern for the consumer.  Yeah.  Just another fake gimmick.  And this company is so insensitive, that they would send me a mailer like this with a fake Post-It note and a fake sincerity, hoping I would be swayed and drive right over and buy one of their cars.

Yeah.  No.   If I want to deal with Pretenders, I’ll listen to Chrissie Hynde.

And it now makes me wonder … if Kennedy Marketing Group, Inc. has my car history information, did they sell it to those telemarketers for a few extra dollars?   Could they be the reasons why I’m still getting those “We want to sell you a vehicle service contract, how many miles are on your car?” cold calls?

I don’t know.  I really don’t.

So let me post this for Mangino Mitsubishi and Kennedy Marketing Group, Inc.

Yes, I bought my Cobalt from your dealership in November 2012.  And it was a wonderful car.  I loved that car.  I paid off that car.  And it was destroyed by means outside of my control.  And every time I get messages like this from your dealership or your marketing group … it’s like re-living that car crash and its aftermath.

But I will thank you, at least…

You just proved to me that I’m not a valued former customer.

I’m just a target.  A mark.  A chance to claim another sale.

I guess you’ll just have to reach your $2 million pre-owned inventory goal without my Blackbird.

Unless you want to go to the North Carolina junkyard and recover what’s left of it from the scrap heap.