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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
 
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Monday, November 24, 2008
Profiting By Diligence....
The winter months are upon us up here in Canada Cold-ada, consequently I have stopped riding my bike to work. In lieu of said ride, I am now, once again, a patron of the municipal transit system. <shudder>

Transit patrons are an interesting consumer group by the way. A mad mix loosely made up of [1] those who (because of poverty or circumstance) are "forced" to ride the community limousine; [2] tree-huggers; and people who could afford to drive, but choose not to just because it would be more of an inconvenience to them to do so. That is, transit patrons are by nature, poor, cheap, or wackos, and there is a surprising amount of overlap between these groups.

Which is to say that if you want to join a bike gang, but cannot afford a Harley, there is room for you on the bus. Buy yourself a leather jacket, some jeans, a belt made out of motor-cycle chain, and snake skin boots with buckles, and then you can ride the bus with some like minded (and equally poor) friends and set about trying to intimidate old people on their way to shopping, and commuters on their way to work. Likewise, if you like rap, you can buy yourself a "hoodie", an ipod, and a baseball cap - let your over-sized pants hang loosely around your hips with the label of your designer underwear hinting to all that your bus riding poverty is merely a ruse, and that secretly you are a well to do, but "bad" momba-jumba, who likes to offend people on the bus with your profound grasp of the local scatological cant.

I don't really care for the bus, but this post isn't really about the bus, it is about one particular ride, that I purposely extended on Friday.

My good wife has been informing me well in advance of the weather, that a good and prudent husband ought to find the long extension cord by which we normally, and annually, plug in the block heater for our van. A block heater, for you southern folk, is a heater in your engine that when plugged in heats up your oil pan. Frozen oil is thicker than warm oil, so that starting your engine in cold weather is like trying to stir a bowl full of molasses. It drains the battery quickly, and the likelihood of starting your vehicle once it is frozen is almost nothing. Like a madman, I put off performing the dutiful duty of retrieving said extension cord, only to wake up one morning weeks later, to a very cold, but apparently predictable, surprise.

I realized it was "that" cold when I went out to help my son put out the recycling. I thought to myself, "Man, it's cold out. I wonder if the van will start?" - and since I prefer to test such things empirically, I went in and got the van keys, only to learn once again how like the proverbial grasshopper I am, and (subsequently) like the ant my wife is.

Like most men, at this point - the point where you realize your wife has been telling you to do something to avoid the very thing that has just happened, and you know that she was right, and that you really are as lazy as you said you weren't when making all sorts of excuses for not doing "as soon as she mentioned it" - that is, you know that you smug putting it off has backfired in spades - I say, as a consequence of the sudden crashing reality of this - I, like most men, entered into a state of controlled desperation - not unlike a body that shuts down non-essential organs as it goes into shock. I was suddenly an emotionless machine - cold and calculating in retrieving the extension cord and plugging the van in - as though I had done so the previous night... Somewhere deep down, I had hoped that by plugging in the van it would start later it, I mean, if I left it plugged in all day, it may warm up enough to hide my oversight, and thwart my wife having been right once again about my procrastinating ways...

But that wasn't to be. My wife contacted me earlier in the morning, after I was already at work with the less than cryptic message: too little, too late.

Grace, thy name is "Eve" - not that my wife's name is Eve, it isn't, but rather that sounds more poetic that "thy name is wife". Anyway - she was disappointed (of course!) in that the van hadn't started, but she resisted the that internal ache that was no doubt telling her to gloat over having been right. Yet I say, she refrained from saying: "I told you so".

I thank the Lord for that work in her life.

So it was that prior to leaving my office on Friday, I checked the website of a local hardware store - one that was on my way home - and found a battery booster - the a rechargeable, portable battery used specifically to jump start vehicles with deceased batteries. The item was $89.99 for a seven-hundred-cranking-amp battery.

Now, again, if you are from the south, you might not care for the distinction between, say, 300 and 700 cranking amps, but up here the distinction is crucial - the more cranking amps, the more power you have drive your icy cam-shaft through the frozen syrup of engine oil. Speed makes all the difference here - and the higher the cranking amps, the faster the "churning" - and thus, the more likely the "cold" start.

So I am on the bus, ignoring the poor young gansters who are trying to out "tough" one another with their foul language and body odor, and I am thinking, it's Friday, I just want to go home - and the last thing I want to do is get off this bus cross a windswept parking lot, buy a booster, then come back here and wait in the cold for another 20 minutes to catch the next bus that goes to my house. Nope, I was thinking - I will just go home, call someone for a boost, start my van that way, then drive over here and pick one up - or not? I mean, once the van starts, I won't need a boost, for surely I will have learned my lesson.

Just a reality check here. I have never learned that lesson. About three or four times a winter we have to boost our van, for all it takes is forgetting to plug it in just once - and it will freeze up over night.

Anyway, so I go through this little struggle - a pity party really. Why should I have to get off this nice warm bus that has been generously peopled with such colorful personalities? Surely it is a sort of delirium that drives people to do now what can be put off till a more convenient moment? Of course, it was this mentality in the first place that put me in the second place. Had I obeyed, er, ah, taken the advice of my spouse, I probably wouldn't be buying this item since the van would have started,... yada, yada, yada.

So I get off the bus, cross the long, icy lot, scour the enormous store for said item, check the part number to be sure I got the right one, and realize that the price on the shelf is $40.00 more than the price on the web page.

Great.

Like most men, I would rather pay $40.00 more for a product that have to talk to anyone about the discrepancy. Maybe it makes me feel more manly if I can do a thing without having to interact with other people - maybe it is a fight or flight thing, you know, I would rather flee from confrontation than fight for a bargain - I can't say, but a big part of me is tuned to the idea that if this is going to be a hassle, I am just going to pay the shelf price.

So I stop a one of the people in the store uniform as she and another are racing past me on some official store business. I know their business is official because they are grossly engaged in discussing some store matter as they whisk past me. My inquiry might have gone unnoticed had I not physically stepped in the path of the one and asked directly, "Excuse me,..." even having only said that much, I read the annoyance in her face, and decided to ask my question in a way that allowed her to continue pursuing her hasty objective, "Excuse me, this item is priced differently on your website than it is on your shelf, who would I talk to to sort that out?" - you see the way I asked it allowed her to give me some direction without putting her out to much. The agitation on her face became less clear (a promising sign), and she directed me to a parts counter behind which no one was standing.

Immediately she was off, and I cautiously approached said counter - heaving this booster with me. The thing is basically a car battery with a handle, so you can guess at the weight. I place it up on the counter, look around for about... ten seconds or so ... then give up on that whole line of action. One thing I have learned about standing in a store during holiday season, is that the over-worked staff are not going to be looking for people who look to be lost ducklings. They will be avoiding them like the plague. No, the only way I am going to get any help is if I tackle someone.

So I decide to take it too the nearest till. I mean, perhaps the price on the shelf says one thing, but the price will be different at the till. Right? So I stand in line at a till, finally see a cashier and ask her, what I expect is a rational question, "Can you please tell me the price of this item?" She looks at me like I have special needs. The price being clearly marked, I suppose, on the box.
"Why it is $129.99".
"Yes, thank you, but what does it scan to?"
"I am not sure I..."
"okay, on your web site the price is $89.99, yet here it is marked $129.99, and I ..."
"--Oh, we don't have the Internet here at the till,"
"Yes, thank you ma'am, I am sorry that I gave you the impression that I thought you did. What I would like you to do is to scan the bar code of this item and see if the price in your system is the one from the web page or the one on the sticker..."
"Okay...."
BEEP
"$129.99."
"Sigh, okay, who would I talk to about a discrepancy between the web page and the shelf price?"

At this point the cashier looks imploringly, and uncertainly to another cashier as though I had just asked her something inappropriately intimate. They sort of co-agree that "customer service" ought to be the people I present my dilemma to, and then she turns back to me, as though I hadn't heard the conversation that just took place two feet away from me, and says, "You should talk with 'customer service'"

"Where is that?" I ask.
"Do you see that large sign over there?" (She points to some vague point behind her)
"Um, no I ..."
"The one that says in large letters, 'CUSTOMER SERVICE'?"

Okay, in my own defense here, the sign may have been twenty feet across and six feet tall, but it was truly camouflaged. Never, in the history of mankind, has a sign that large ever no perfectly matched the background immediately behind it.

"No, I still don't...."
"Right over there, it's a pretty big sign,..."

At that point, I had something of a revelation. There it was, slowly taking shape - a sign the size of a mack truck, hanging almost invisibly in the distance - the writing upon it so small, I openly wondered at the marketing genius of making a sign that big seem so small.

So I haul the battery booster to the customer service desk, only to find a group for sad and forlorn than the public transportation crowd. Here we see sitting to my life a man who looks to have been here for an hour - agitated, and cranky, a man driven to the edge by being made to stand in a line that doesn't move. I see in his hand the yellow stub of a ticket, and inside me something dies.

You know, I look up, and there on the wall is that dumb LED sign with the number "44" showing. This guy's ticket is is like, 150 or something, and I realize that I have to go get a ticket, because if I dare approach the counter without a ticket in my hand - no matter how long I have suffered in line - I will surely offend anyone who is legitimately waiting with their ticket. So I get my ticket and commence the long wait.

In the time it takes to grow a small beard, I finally approach the counter.

Guess who is there? Miss - go over to that other (empty) counter.

She doesn't recognize me, as apparently she has the short term memory of a gold fish. So I heave the battery booster onto her counter, and with care and attention to detail, I reiterate my exact words, in exactly the same tone and inflection, as I had previously. My hope was that in doing so she would realize who I was, and that the guilt of knowingly sending me astray would crush her psyche like a bug, ... with love of course. She was clearly oblivious to my mental assault however, so after checking myself spiritually (Spirit to Daniel: don't give in to the flesh and its desires - it wants to use this to convince you that God is not in control. Whose hands hold your days and times? Be content that the Lord is with you even in this - he is aware, and you have grace untold to deal with this if you are willing to receive it.) In a heartbeat I set aside my gnawing desire for vengeance, and instead, explain my dilemma.

It causes quite a stir, as no one seems to know what to do. She calls over a co-worker (a committee is more likely to corrupt justice than an individual for this one reason - shared responsibility means that if I am wrong, so what? I am not the only one!), and together they try to ferret out why the price is different. The first line of defense it seems is to ascertain whether or not I am a lying, thieving, con artist...

"Do you have a flyer or anything with the price on it?"
"No, as I told your friend here, I was on your web-site, and there noted the price and part number prior to coming here to make a purchase."
"Did you bring anything with you?"
"If you are asking me whether or not I keep the Internet in my pocket, the answer is no, my pockets are not that deep..."

I could sense the flesh creeping into my manners again, as it revels in making other people feel small and stupid by being snide, witty, and caustic. So I back off.. a bit.

"I am pretty sure a large outfit like this has an Internet connection (there were at least 100 employees in the store at that time), you could just check the Internet and see for yourself if I am making this up."

It saddens me that I alone am the only one I know of to document the next ten minutes, for surely no other ten minute span in all of history has ever so perfectly portrayed in action the entire concept of ineptness. It is something of a crime against history and humanity that this display was only witnessed by myself, for I cannot hope to frame it well enough to capture the moment, it is suffice to say I lived through it, and will carry the scars in my heart until I leave this world.

Finally, I called out from memory the part number - "one one one five five one one six."

"um? eleven fifty-one fifty one?"

"eleven-fifteen-fifty-one-six."

"fifty-one, fifty-one?"

Deep breath.

"eleven-fifteen-fifty-one-six. that's eleven... dash... fifteen ... fifty-one ...dash ...six."

"OH! Here it is!"

In my mind the hallelujah chorus spontaneously erupted as new found joy came once again into flower after the dark storms of my dispair.

I paid for the booster, and raced out of there to try and catch the next bus (since they run half an hour apart).

I missed it, of course. And that meant riding the bus with a worse crowd.

You see, the "home commute" crowd has a better ratio of gainfully employed people than the latter crowd. The latter crowd is made up of mostly young, angry urbanites who so society that when they ride the bus that try to out do one another in making the experience as hair raising and terrible for the next person as possible. Lot himself would have folded like a leaf if he had to ride the bus after dark in my town. Well, maybe not Lot - but some lesser man for sure.

Anyway, so I get home late, but victorious - having overcome personal laziness and exercising diligence for a change. Of course, I was making up for my own error, which sort of tarnished my personal celebration - but my wife was gracious enough to over look that.

Bottom line. I checked their website today and the booster thing was now marked at $129.99. It may be that there was a mistake on the web site, and that my $40.00 savings was a hole that they quickly plugged up. But more likely it was a random offer set up by the larger corporation that hadn't found its way into the local pricing, and was a limited time offer. Had I not acted when I did, I would have had to pay an extra $40.00.

Anyway. I wanted to post something, so now I have.
posted by Daniel @ 1:26 PM  
6 Comments:
  • At 4:04 PM, November 24, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    Sorry about the length, you know I get on a ramble, and I just keep on going sometimes. If I didn't type so fast, and if I were more concerned with editing and content, I suppose you (the gentle reader) wouldn't have to wade through so much.

     
  • At 4:30 PM, November 24, 2008, Blogger Jim said…

    That really cracked me up...I can totally relate.

    In fact, the other day my wife was shopping (most likely at the same chain of stores) for an item to which the clerk declared they had no stock. I had however checked on the internet and after giving them the item code over the phone they were suddenly able to find it.

     
  • At 8:05 PM, November 24, 2008, Blogger ThirstyDavid said…

    So, you saved $40. (Here is where I would love to make a value-of-Canadian-currency joke, but alas ...). How much would that be as an hourly wage? Just curious.

     
  • At 4:55 AM, November 25, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    David, considering any time above my regular work is "overtime" I reckon all "how much would that be as an hourly wage" to be an unfair comparison, but would require the hourly wage to be an overtime rate, in order to keep it proper.

    The whole thing took about forty-five minutes, which means that I was "making" $53.33 an hour by being there - but (as I said) that would be the "overtime rate" (time and a half) for $35.56 an hour.

     
  • At 4:58 AM, November 25, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jim, I am glad it made someone else laugh. I seldom get to whining, so when I do, I try to keep it funny, and I am always pleased when people get the joke.

     
  • At 7:47 AM, November 25, 2008, Blogger ThirstyDavid said…

    I would stand in line and be irritated for 35.56 an hour. I wouldn't want to do it 40 hours/week, though.

    Anyway, my question is rather inappropriate, because to say you were making money is to say you were earning something by your effort. That would be the case if you had been haggling over the price, but since you were just trying to get the advertised price, they actually stole forty-five minutes of your time--kind of like I did when I made you figure out what you were making per hour.

     
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