Customer service silos

The bus

My lad started high school this year which means he catches the bus to and from so I got him a Metrocard to use on the bus.

Not even one school term in he lost his wallet and I had to replace the Metrocard and his student ID card. I didn’t replace the small amount of cash and docked some pocket money for my out of pocket costs.

I’d registered the Metrocard so that it automatically tops up when the balance gets low. It beats buying tickets every week. When you’ve registered your card you can see what usage its had one to two days after the event. You can also report it lost or stolen and cancel so nobody else can use it. I left his for a couple of days just incase it turned up like the missing PE uniform did (embarrassingly it was in a bag in his room).

His wallet did not turn up and as someone had used his Metrocard on the other side of town I figured it wasn’t going to appear in our house or his bag.

I rang up to cancel it and asked how I could transfer the remaining balance on the card to a new one and was told I would have to go to their service centre in the city or the main train station – inconvenient to do either when you don’t work in the city.

Luckily I have a day off a fortnight so at my inconvenience I went into town to organise his new card.

Last Friday night I heard a couple of mums talking about having to do the same thing and I remembered I was going to provide feedback about this. I duly filled in an online feedback form and to their credit they replied within a few hours saying that provided I gave them certain details the replacement card could be done over the phone.

I replied with a thanks, and another suggestion to pass this information onto service centre staff.

I’m taking bets on when I’ll have to replace the card again. At least I won’t have to go into the city to do it.

Joy in the simple things

Birds having a great time frolicking in the rain

The lad and I were driving to go and help with the food shopping for his camping weekend away the other night when we saw and heard all these birds frolicking up on the wire. He got me to stop the car and got out to take some photos (so photo credit to my son on this one). I’m glad I took the time to stop. It was a back street making it easier to pull over and stop. We’d actually left the house a bit earlier instead of the last minute rush as is often the case.

It was raining and the birds were relishing the rain. It’s been a dry summer, therefore we’ve not had too many rainfalls recently.

They were making a heck of a noise and there were even birds hanging off other birds. It was great to see, and to hear. Do they normally hang out together like this around sunset, or did they come together because of the rain?

Too often the rain keeps us indoors but I quite like a walk in the rain. The dog doesn’t mind it either. He doesn’t like a gentle sprinkle with the hose and he definitely doesn’t like being washed, but add a lead and walk into the equation, getting wet doesn’t matter. The rub-down when we get home is worth it too.

One day at a time

Love autumn and I love my walk around the lake on a near-daily basis

I love autumn. I love the obvious changing of seasons. I love how the tree leaves change colour and how the weather is noticeably cooling down even though the warmer weather sometimes makes an appearance.

The days are getting shorter and my walking the dog in the mornings is mostly done while dark, the sun just thinking about appearing as I’m getting home. It’s still not cool enough to wear a jacket outside yet, but I know that’s on its way and I look forward to cranking up the slow combustion wood heater.

I hope this season brings along change for me as well. I feel like I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately partly due to missing out on a job that I feel should have been mine but isn’t. Dealing with a moody teenage boy isn’t helping me cruise through day-to-day life either. I don’t know what’s worse, having a three-year old or a 13-year old. There are similarities. He would live on junk food if he could. He turns his nose up at 95% of my cooking. He has little tantrums. However, there are up-sides. I don’t have to be on hand as much to tend to his daily needs like I used to.

One minute he can be quite hateful and the next he makes me laugh and we have fun together. I drove him and two other Scouts to camp yesterday evening. I’d had a shitful time with him prior to going to the hall to pack up the last bits and pieces and was dreading the drive but it turned out to be fun. The boys were all excited about going away and they chatted non-stop about school, about teachers, about friends. Despite the warning from my son not to embarrass him, or talk, I didn’t embarrass him but I was allowed to talk a bit. Although I nearly spilled the beans about what him and a female friend used to get up to when they were three. I stopped along the way and bought us all a flavoured milk drink – a road-trip necessity, especially as I had to drive home after dropping them off, and it won me some browny points.

When I said goodbye he gave me two extended hugs so I know that despite his teenage-ness, he still loves me.

So, I take one day at a time and I’m enjoying the peace and quiet this weekend.

Adelaide Festival 2015 – Blinc

Adelaide Festival - Blinc

It can be a Herculean effort to take the teenager out with you, but persist. It’s easier to leave them at home to do more Xbox time, but once they get over the whinging they can be quite pleasant company and actually enjoy themselves.

Mama and son

This time we went into town to see the lights of Blinc before they finish up this weekend.

It’s pretty special seeing Parliament House and the Festival Centre adorned in pretty pictures and lights and the accompanying sound interrupts your thoughts every now and then when you’re close to the speakers.

Adelaide Festival - Blinc

Adelaide Festival - Blinc

I would have liked to walk through the lights in the rotunda in Elder Park but I hate queues so satisfied myself with a non-interactive look.

The elephant was pretty spectacular and the lad helped out a woman who wondered when the effin’ elephant was going to turn around. You have to go to the other side to see the other end, he informed her.

Adelaide Festival - Blinc

We wandered along the Torrens and admired other lights from Blinc and nearby buildings.

Adelaide Festival - Blinc

Adelaide OvalAdelaide Festival - Blinc

There are probably some we missed either because we were sick of walking or I’m crap at reading maps. But it’s great seeing Adelaide so busy and bustling with all of this activity. Pity there weren’t more regular trams at night-time – we saw our tram pull away just before we got to the stop and the next one didn’t arrive for another 20-25 minutes.

Looking a bit alien

‘So, how did you get to be an alien?’ I was asked.

‘You have to know the right alien,’ I answered back.

This was a brief exchange at Surrender the other night. About 40 of us gathered outside Parliament House to get our photos taken, professionally and by passers-by.

Alien invasion at Surrender via Parliament House

Alien invasion at Surrender via Parliament House

I think we were a bit of a sideshow for people walking past.

Alien invasion at Surrender via Parliament House

And I love how inventive a few of my friends got with their outfits.

Alien invasion at Surrender via Parliament House

I went green. Body and facepaint for my face and neck, green hairspray, my green 70s onesie and my son’s cape worn inside-out (and borrowed with his permission). I’d bought some alien eyes to go on top of my head but will be returning them because the elastic wasn’t going to hold anything up, so I improvised with some pipe cleaners. And a little behind the scenes secret, it’s really hard to go to the loo in a portaloo when you have to negotiate a cape and a onesie.

Alien invasion at Surrender via Parliament House

I didn’t take any photos at Surrender, but below is one at the end of the night outside the Festival Centre.

Alien invasion at Surrender via Parliament House

Introverts at job interviews

Against a brick wall. Day 175/366.

I had a job interview recently and to put it succinctly – I bombed at the interview. I had a great written application and had it got to the referee stage they would have talked me up I’m sure, but the actual interview – it sucked. I sucked!

Yes, I had prepared but when it came down to it, all that preparation went out the window.

I really hate the format of the we’ll ask you a question comprising at least two parts, and we’ll sit here and look at you while you answer. I inevitably forget what the question is and I forget what I know.

I wondered if I was alone in this so I did a search, and surprise surprise – it’s a thing!

Susan Cain, well-known author of Quiet – a book about introverts says:

“The modern-day interview is mostly designed to hire narcissists,” Cain says, pointing to a recent study that indicates narcissists who have overt charm, verbal fluency and a take-charge personality, do better at job interviews than modest people.

I thought about it afterwards and thought that if the interview process were different, ie more conversational, I would have done a lot better. Or if I were given the questions in more of a role play situation I would have done a lot better.

I’m not afraid of talking to people and explaining my work to them. I’m not afraid of interview panelists either, but when a job’s riding on the balance there’s more to lose isn’t there?

I’ve rehashed over the process and wish I’d done a couple of things differently, and said a whole lot more but it’s in the past now and there’s not much I can do to change the outcome.

But I know I’ve got a bit of work to do for the next time.


We survived his first week of high school


He’s stressed because his routine has changed significantly from going to primary school practically across the road to having to catch a bus to his high school. He’s stressed because he’s gone from being the oldest to the youngest kid in his school. He’s stressed because high school’s completely different and he’s going from the very familiar to the pretty unfamiliar.

You can help by running around after him and doing everything for him on his first morning while he sits on the couch barking orders and saying that it’s his first day of high school. It doesn’t matter that he woke you up at 6am when he got up to get ready. At least you didn’t have to nag him to get up and get ready this time and you hope this enthusiasm will last.

When you come home from work he’ll be relaxing in front of the xbox playing a game. He might reluctantly tell you a bit about his first day of school with a glimmer of excitement when he tells you that his home group is ace. He piles a heap of forms in front of you to sign and strolls back to play xbox even though you’ve told him that he has to ask to play it during a school week. Never mind – it’s his first day of school so you let it slide.

You fill out the forms and when he makes an appearance to ask how you filled in one of them, he doesn’t like the answer you give. You sit there and get yelled at when he tells you that you did the wrong thing. After all, it’s his first day of high school.

You ask him reasonably to do his jobs like feed the dog, take out the recycling and have a shower and he yells at you for not supporting and understanding him. Apparently you’d neglected to say to him that morning that you hoped he had a good day. Your mouth drops open in surprise. After all, he wouldn’t be at this particular high school without your continued support but there is no reasoning with him – he’s an adolescent, and it’s his first day of high school.

For the first three days you wonder where this devil child came from. He’s often been stubborn before but this is a whole new thing that shakes you a bit. Is this what the next five years are going to be like you wonder?

You go to work each day while you wonder how he’s going at school. He’s supposed to call after he gets home from school but doesn’t always remember. He might send a vague text that makes no sense so you call to make sure he’s okay.

After three days of this you realise that this is his way of dealing with stress and that he’s really been doing a pretty good job. He’s been getting up every morning and getting ready without you having to remind him. You try and think of how he’s feeling and realise that perhaps you could have been a bit more understanding.

You stop off at a book shop on the way home and buy a book that he’s indicated he’d like to read. You get home and commend him on how well he’s done at his first week of high school and apologise for not being more understanding. He apologises for his behaviour too.

This shifts the mood in the house and the devil child becomes angelic and lovely.

You know you need to make the absolute most of this while it lasts.

Brighton sculptures 2015