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Thursday, July 31, 2008

My other hat...

One of the things I love about working in customer service is the fact that you never know what mood you will be in by the time your shift ends. There is always that one customer who believes that your presence as a public servant means that you must also be his personal servant. I'm referring to that customer who comes to you and asks for help, but then expects you to do all of the legwork once you have given them the complete instructions on how to do it for themselves.

For example, we have a regular customer who brings a list of items that he wants in and asks if we have them. Once I have given him the information on where the items are located, he then says to me, "Can you get them for me?" He's not disabled, he's not blind, hell, I don't even think he's got any real reason not to look for the items himself other than he simply believes that it is my job to bring him exactly what he wants and that no matter what, I should be happy to do so. Ordinarily, I'd say that's fine. I do work in a field where customer service is very important and it really doesn't hurt me to get up and go retrieve items for this person, other than making me really angry that he's mentally snapping his fingers at me to "go fetch." This type of interaction with a customer usually brings out the angry feminist in me. The one that refuses to bring a cup of coffee to her boss because, by God, he's got legs and I don't want any damned coffee. It's an inner conflict which I cannot easily resolve.

For the most part, most people are nice and they simply want help figuring out our very complicated system so that they can do it for themselves. Occasionally, though, much to my chagrin, we have someone who believes that they are extremely important and can't be bothered with walking to a shelf and pulling a book for themselves. It's just one of those stupid things. Until I make the big time, I will have to endure these challenges and hope that I don't forget one day that I really do enjoy helping people find what they want and bust into a serious Tourette's-inspired monologue about why they should do it themselves.

I'd love to hear your customer service horror stories if you have time to share them here. They always make me feel better about my own plight. If you have a good one, send it to me here.

Until next time...

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Going to extremes almost never works...

I was just reading an article about a family who appeared on the television show, Extreme Makeover: The Home Edition. Unfortunately, they are now facing foreclosure on the home that was built for them. The Harper family apparently used the home as collateral on a loan for $450,000. It makes me wonder, as I always wonder while I am watching the show, what makes the Extreme Makeover team believe that a family whose home is in such disrepair to begin with will be able to sustain the upkeep on a home that is valued so much higher than the one that they started with? Additionally, why can't they simply restore the homes to a decent, livable condition without making such lavish displays of them. I realize that doing it this way would be in direct conflict with the title of the show, but really, isn't any significant improvement to some of these houses kind of extreme?

I thought, at one point, that I liked the show. That was before I started listening to the stories behind the families they were selecting. There may have been one or two truly deserving families in the whole lot of them. I'm sorry, but to me, a qualification for help does not include having lots of children and not being able to afford taking care of them. This is a seemingly optional plight. In my mind, if you are going to have more than a couple of kids, you should be prepared to have at least a couple of jobs. If you can't get at least one job, then well, why would you endeavor to support anyone except yourself?

But, you may whine, these individuals are big-hearted people who want to share their love with children, doesn't that count for anything? My answer: How much do they earn in a year just spreading their wonderful love around? Does it bring in enough money to pay a mortgage? Forget mortgage, can you afford a tank of gas?

But, you may persist, they can't find work that will pay the bills. All the jobs out there are minimum wage. My answer: Bullshit. There are jobs out there. You might not like what's available, but they are out there. Use the skills you have or go out and get new skills. Even if you have to start at the bottom, work your rear end off until you get to where you need to be. In the meantime, don't bring any kids into the world or otherwise encumber yourself unless you can afford to do so. Don't people kind of have an idea of what their income potential is long before they start having children? If not, then maybe they're having their children way too early. Just a thought.

I know, I know, I sound like one of those terrible Republicans. Trust me, I'm really not. I'm just a person who has worked in Social Services and who has witnessed more than my fair share of people who are down on their luck. These families as well as just about everyone else I've ever met, fall into one of two categories. They are either truly unlucky, but willing to try anything just to keep their heads above water or they are unlucky, but simply not willing to do anything to improve their situations no matter how bad it gets and they wait for someone else to fix their problems. The latter group will never figure it out. You can fix and fix and fix things for them, but they will always have other problems that keep things from ever being right. The more you bail them out, the more they need to be bailed out.

Lest you think I'm a heartless witch, I assure you that I have absolutely no problem with helping people find resources and allowing them to work it out on their own. I really think that works best. I'm a firm believer in the "teach a man to fish" philosophy. I'm not sure that throwing a huge fish at people does anything but stuff them full and leave them to lay around and digest it giving little thought to where their next fish might be coming from. Shows like Extreme Makeover not only give them the fish, they practically chew it for them. I'd like to see a show that does an extreme makeover on someone's poor attitude. When they show me that they can change a slacker into a productive member of society, then I'll be impressed.

Until next time...

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Tea & Mystery

Recently, I've started scheduling discussion events with libraries called Tea & Mystery. At these gatherings, we are going to discuss the mystery genre and how it has found its way into our daily entertainment diet. It should be lots of fun and We're even going to play a whodunit game as part of the presentation.
I'm looking forward to doing these discussions. I enjoy mysteries every day whether it is on my television, in my car on audiobook or on my own computer where I write them. I hadn't realized just how much my life revolved around mysteries until I started putting together these discussion events. If you are able, please join me at one of my upcoming Tea & Mystery presentations. The schedule is below:

8/28 New Carlisle Public Library, New Carlisle, OH 7 p.m.
9/10 Clark County Public Library, Springfield, OH 7 p.m.
9/27 Champaign County Public Library Urbana, OH 2 p.m.
10/14 Waterville Public Library Waterville, NY 6 p.m.

All events will last about two hours and participants will be encouraged to bring their favorite mystery books with them so that they can share their thoughts on the topic. More information about registration will be available a few weeks prior to each event.

If you have a private group that would like to have a similar discussion, please let me know. I can do these in person or via conference call!

Until next time...

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A Little Bit of Mystery: Short Mysteries to Confuse and Amuse

Where I've Been...

Listen to my interview on the Jeffery S. Miller show.

Listen to my interview on Calling All Authors.

Listen to my interview on the Let's Just Talk w/Kathryn Raaker.

Listen to my interview on Radio Free Baxter.

Where I'll Be...

After a short break in the summer, I'll be at the following locations:

8/11/09 Allen Park Public Library, Allen Park, MI 6:30 p.m.

Looking for something entertaining for your library or bookstore patrons? Looking for a fun way to spend a couple of hours? Do you love mysteries? Then you need to schedule a Tea & Mystery event for your library or bookstore! The fee is minimal and the presentation is fun and informative! Attendees will be given the chance to win great prizes and share their thoughts about the mystery genre and their favorite mystery writers!

E-mail me today at for details on how to set up your Tea & Mystery event!

Books by Rebecca Benston

Reviews for Rebecca Benston

“You'll find yourself looking forward to more stories from the files of Rona Shively.”

Michelle Shealy, Reviewer for


“Rebecca Benston has written a detective with plenty of suspense…I hope there will be a sequel…”

Annick, Reviewer for Euro-Reviews


“The story is good, the plotting great. Rebecca Benston draws you into the story from the first page. Read the book.”

Lucille P. Robinson, An Alternative Read


“Rebecca Benston’s twists, turns, and descriptions are utterly engaging.”

Tracy, Fallen Angel Reviews


“In The Wash is like a 1930’s film noir detective story that had a modern, edgy twist and a female lead.”

Janet Davies, Once Upon a Romance Reviews


“Under Lock and Key is an enjoyable, fun book! Rona Shively is a delightful character. I loved her off-beat, quirky personality and her outstanding sense of humor.”

Connie Harris,


“Talented author Rebecca Benston shows the reader just how complicated life can get suddenly and how people you thought you knew, aren't who you thought they were.”

Anne K. Edwards,