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It Beats Me

by Stephen Lautens


November 23, 2001

There's no doubt the world is a complicated place. There is so much we'll never know, such as:

I don't know how people ever kept busy at work before there were computers. It seems I spend half my time just trying to get them to do the simplest things without smoke coming out of them. I'm lucky if I can ever get to my actual work. Even Microsoft chairman Bill Gates admitted last week that keeping computers working has "got to be a lot easier than it is today." No kidding. Either that or he has to start using a Macintosh.

I can't understand the economics of dollar stores. I bought a screwdriver the other day. It cost a dollar. Granted, it's not a family heirloom I'll pass down through the generations, but it has a half dozen interchangeable blades and nifty rubber handle. But for the buck I paid, you have to deduct what it cost to dig up the iron, smelt the steel, stamp the blades, create a handle, and then ship it half way around the world ­ and still make a profit. Even if they paid next to nothing for the labour (and you can bet they did), that's some pretty slick budgeting. I wish I could stretch a dollar that far.

Please explain why with all my points programs I never get anything except for a mailbox full of junk flyers showing me all the things I don't qualify for. And as soon as it looks like I'm actually going to get something, they change the rules.

It's beyond me why the people chosen to be customer service reps seem to have the fewest people skills. I recently spoke to a delightful woman named Tammy about a problem I was having with a major purchase from her company. She said she had been "empowered" by her company to solve any customer problem. As soon as she used the word "empowered" I knew I was up a certain creek. As it turns out, Tammy was only "empowered" to get rid of me a quickly as possible.

What is it with people who send you anything and everything by email? I get thirty emails a day from people who are sure I'm interested in doctored photos of Osama bin Laden. Or inspirational stories about some kid in Alabama trying to fulfil a promise he made to his dead grandmother to create the world's most annoying chain letter. Who thinks sending this around is somehow a public service?

Does anyone out there understand why any new program designed "to serve you better" is almost always guaranteed to cost you more money and tick you off?

And who exactly gave the advertisers permission to start commercials with Christmas carols in the middle of November? I love Christmas, but at this rate we'll be singing Jingle Bells starting in May.

Why do Quebec's Premiers seem compelled to say ridiculous and stupid things? Premier Bernard Landry was shooting off his mouth at a PQ convention last Sunday saying the destruction of New York's World Trade Centre by terrorists was a warning of the bitterness that results when nations like Quebec fail to achieve their independence. Say what? Is he trying to warn us that Quebec separatists will hijack a chip truck and drive it into the side of the CBC headquarters unless they get their way? Do they believe it? Do they think other people will believe it? Or is he just jerking everyone's chain ­ as usual?

Really, I'd like to know.

© Stephen Lautens 2001

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