Three weeks. Three LONG weeks. That's how long I've been sitting on my ass at home without a service call to go earn my paycheck with. Y'all are prolly getting tired of hearing me talk about my job security fears, but these days I think you NEED to worry if you go three weeks without contributing to your company's bottom line. I don't care how good you are, or how respected you are, no company in the world will keep an employee that isn't working and either making money for them or at least taking care of its customers. In a good news/bad news kind of thing, I was sick for at least two of those three weeks and so probably would have been unavailable to work in any case.
I did manage to get a few things accomplished though! I got lots of practice playing Mario Carts on the Wii with my two little ones. Since my nine year old daughter was the one that gave me the sickies, she was also home from school, and so we became Mario Carts addicts. If you see TxKimberly on Mario Carts online, it's either me or my three year old playing on my account.
The other things I got accomplished was to get my cars worked on. My poor 2002 F150 has over 165,000 miles on her and things are starting to fail. Using my credit card, I had the chattering clutch and related items repaired and so she no longer sounds like a coffee grinder when the clutch is pressed in. They did such an awesome job on my pickup truck that I went ahead and took them my 1967 Mustang to get some of the suspension reworked. I didn't have the money, so it all went on credit cards, but I figured I better take advantage of the free time that I had and get it done now. It turns out that all she supposedly needed was lower control arms and a great deal of patience to free assorted 45 year old alignment components that didn't want to move anymore. So I'm way over my head in debt, but now have a reliable truck again and a classic mustang that will not chew through a set of tires in only 2000 miles.
Tuesday night at 7PM I was sitting at home and feeling the "unemployment is coming" terror build, when I received a call and a text message from a customer in Texas. To be honest, I normally wouldn't have answered my phone at that time of night, but three weeks without work had me almost frantic to find something to do. Well, it turned out that this guy worked for a small company that uses a truck, trailer, generator, and our infrared mass spectrometer to travel to his customers locations and perform emissions testing and verification for them. His generator had developed some sort of a problem, and the end result was that he burned out a power supply in our instrument. The man was almost frantic, because if he couldn't use our equipment the next morning to do testing that he had promised his customer, he was going to lose the job AND the customer. I sat at the dining room table for a moment, only a couple of hours before I would normally be headed for bed, and decided that I would go ahead and try to take care of him that night if he was willing. It was going to take him about two and a half hours to get to my office where the spare parts were kept, and so I beat him there by quite a bit, found out that we had the component I thought was most likely to be at fault, and texted him the price for it. I also sent him my hourly rate, and made sure that he knew that he would have to pay for a minimum of four hours labor regardless of how long the repair actually took. Much to my surprise, he was PISSED at the cost! Here it was almost midnight, I'd driven an hour into the office to meet him, and he was pissed that he was going to have to pay for four hours of labor for a job that was probably only going to take 30 minutes. Here I had thought that I was being the hero and going WAY above and beyond to take care of a small company that honestly couldn't tolerate a day of downtime, and the guy was mad as hell at me. . . Lesson learned - next time I will wait for normal business hours! It turns out that I was correct about the damaged component, and he had nothing else wrong with the instrument, and so it DID only take about 30 minutes. Despite the fact that I knew my manager was going to get pissed about it, I DID cut him some slack on the labor rate and only charged him for two hours instead of the four hour minimum. I can't wait until my manager returns to work so that he can chew my ass out for it.
It's funny how I went for weeks without so much as a phone call to keep me busy, and all of the sudden my phone was ringing off the hook. Turns out that a customer in Detroit needed preventative maintenance on his equipment and so Thursday morning I was headed off to the airport!
I had chosen to wear a full, mid length skirt that is one of my all-time favorites, along with a pair of boots that I had purchased a LONG time ago but only worn once. I knew that both, the skirt and the boots would be hot, but since it was supposed to be around 30 degrees in Detroit, I figured that it would be a good idea. Well, it wasn't a bad plan, but the problem is that Austin Texas is so much warmer than most of the country, and a HELL of a lot warmer than Detroit. The outfit that would be perfectly comfortable once I arrived in Detroit was WAY too franking hot in Austin, and so there I sat in the airport with perspiration dripping down my nose. Ughhhh . . .
Going through the TSA check point in Austin, I was reminded of WHY I hadn't worn this skirt in so long! It is covered in beads and sparkles that just about gives their full body scanner a nervous breakdown each time I go through it. I guess that they have come to anticipate this problem, because as I as exiting the scanner, the inspector stopped me with an upraised hand.
"Please wait here. Let’s see how that skirt did with the scanner." He told me with a grin while looking at the monitor behind me. I turned around to see the monitor myself just in time to see the cartoon style person portrayed there become absolutely covered with little hash marks from the waist down showing the inspector where I needed to be pat down at. A young female TSA inspector stepped forward, and she and I both laughed, because the monitor literally showed hundreds of little markers covering my skirt. Needless to say, we spent a little quality time together as she thoroughly frisked both of my legs to be certain that I was not trying to smuggle a backpack nuke onto the plane.
On my connecting flight from Philadelphia, I was seated next to a woman about my own age, and we exchanged pleasantries as we were seated in first class. Soon, the flight attendant came by to get our drink requests, and she ordered a Chardonnay. I'm not much of a wine drinker, but I just thought that this sounded kind of classy, and so I asked for the same.
"I'm gonna try and fool you into thinking that I'm classy or something." I told her with a grin as I accepted my glass.
We had been sitting there for a few minute when it became really obvious that the man behind us was seriously flirting with the pretty woman that was sitting next to him.
"No way! Your eyes are dark brown!" He insisted.
"We'll, it depends on what I'm wearing! Sometimes they are gray, but usually they are kind of green." She replied to him.
"Excuse me!" The man loudly called to a bewildered and random passenger that was walking past on their way to their own seat. "What color are her eyes?!"
This kind of thing went on for a good five minutes before my seat mate and I glanced at each other. I couldn't help busting out laughing when she rolled her eyes at me.
"This is going to be a LONG flight, isn't it?" She asked with a laugh.
"I think it might be! Just be thankful that YOU aren't sitting next to him!"
Of all the things, it's the little moments like this that I appreciate the most. For just a brief moment, the woman sitting next to me had invited me to join the women's only club, giggling at the silly man who as trying much too hard to impress the woman next to him. Of course HE probably was far more “successful” with women than I ever was, so really, who is the fool in this story?
I don't normally do this, but on this trip I decided to contact my other customers in the area and ask them if they were interested in a service call as long as I was in the area. Since the customer that had brought me to Detroit had already paid for the bulk of my travel, this meant that I could offer others a major discount on my travel fees. Much to my surprise, ALL of the customers that I made this offer to replied that they wanted a service call, and so I went from having only a simple four hour repair at one customer to do, to suddenly having four that all wanted to see me. Needless to say, I ended up having to stay the weekend so that I could take care of all of them. I guess it really is feast or famine, because while I was juggling all of this, I was contacted by a customer in Denver who had damaged his machine, and he wanted to see me just as soon as I could get to him. So now I was staying the weekend in Detroit, and then flying directly from there to Denver! Hey, if I have to have a problem, I'll take having too much work over too little any day!
First off, when I entered the Avis bus, I was warmly greeted by a familiar face and voice - Harmon. To be blunt, most of the folks driving these courtesy busses are not terribly friendly. They are polite, don't get me wrong, but they are clearly there to do their job, get their paycheck, and go home. Harmon is an exception. He clearly takes pride in the job that he has chosen to do, and is one of the most professional folks I've ever seen. He is always helpful, takes great care to welcome you to his bus, and seems genuinely pleased when he thanks you for using his company. Trust me, you would have to see this guy in action to understand why I am so impressed with him.
I asked him for change for a five dollar bill so that I could give him a tip, and he gently refused, telling me that I was a longtime customer, he was happy to see me again, and he was more than happy to help me with my bags. I love the hell outta that guy!
When I was checking in at the US Airways counter, the woman I was dealing with there struck up quite a long conversation when I asked her about the pending merger with American Airlines. We had been chatting for a good five minutes when another customer service rep who was walking behind her stopped to wave at me.
"Hey, good to see you again!" He told me enthusiastically. He had checked me in on multiple trips through here in the past, and apparently has a great memory.
As I was going through the TSA inspection point, an adorable female TSA agent asked me to please step to the side so that she could replace the almost empty cart that holds the little bins that you send your things through the X-ray machine in, and I quickly obliged her. Once she had the new cart in place, she stayed there and struck up a conversation with me. What really kind of got my attention was the way that she stared into my eyes, and if I didn't know any better, I'd swear that she was flirting with me!
"So, how are YOU today?!" She asked, never once loosing eye contact.
"I just couldn't be Gooder, thanks! How are YOU doing?!" I replied with a laugh.
"Eh, you know, it's another day!"
"Another day in paradise?"
"Sure," she laughed, "living the dream."
We stood there for a moment smiling at each other but silent, and still never once having lost eye contact with me, she wished me a great day and a good flight. Hmmm. . . Still not sure what to make of that one, but I'd swear that it seemed like there was more to that conversation than met the eye.
Oh, and just for fun, I decided to take up skiing when I entered the airplane. A the door to the airplane, the floor is a hard plastic material, and when slippery heels meet with wet plastic, it can make for a bit of excitement. I found this out when I suddenly found myself sliding a good solid foot or two toward the startled flight attendant who was standing there. You should have seen the panicked look on his face when he saw a six foot tall (in heels) cross dresser sliding across the floor toward him. Priceless . . .