I had some dreams ... they were klowns in my koffee.

(With apologies to Carly Simon)

This is my journey through job transition from a toxic environment to a better life. Join me for a few thoughts and a few laughs along the way.
What are "klowns in my koffee"? They are the factors large and small that make you less than you are. A "klown" can be a grossly incompetent boss,
a short-sighted policy or a moronic coworker. They won't kill you, at least not immediately, but they abrade the soul
as you scrape past them to get through the day. Sometimes it's best to dump them out of the cup.


Day 91 - Hometown Klown-Tribune

Daily Kup (What I Did On My Reality Vacation)
Attila the Son, age eight, had a fever today and slept fitfully until noon. I knew he felt better when he began to demand video games as his sanctioned right. He was disappointed to find out that he was healthy enough for chores. We worked in the rose garden until it started to rain. The tornado sirens came later.

We didn't have tornado warnings when I grew up in the East. We had air raid drills and fire drills. Fire drills were better because we could go outside. For air raid drills, they made us line up in the hallway with our arms crossed over our eyes. The next row of kids then lined up with their crossed arms resting on the backs of the first row. There were good odds that the guy leaning on your back would try to grope you. I remember being yelled at by the teacher for elbowing one little lech. If I had understood at the time what the drills were for since it was never explained, I would have wished vaporization on them both.

Fast forward to 2010. Two panicky kids, two disturbed cats and I spent a little time in the tiny hallway outside the bathroom in the cellar as the designated shelter as the sirens blared on the hill.

Daily Grind
In this period of relative peace, I have not recently commented on the absurdity of the corporate klowns that surround us. Time to wade in.

I have a love-hate relationship with the local newspaper. As a coupon clipper, I feel virtuous by harvesting the bounty from each Sunday edition. The nagging guilt that drives much of my life also impels me to review the job classifieds even though I know that they contain a vanishingly small percentage of job postings.

On the other hand and as a consumer, I'm irritated by the inaccurate billing, the driver who takes a shortcut by doing a smuggler's turn in my driveway and over my lawn, and the blatant shilling for tips in "Holiday" handmade enclosures from the driver each Christmas. What most boils my barnacles is the snotty, in-your-face attitude that you get from the "Service" department whenever you call. "Oh, Strib, proud buggy whip maker. Why don't you dinosaurs wake up and smell the asteroid?"

Back on the plus side, I like John Ewoldt's Dollars and Sense column. Last Sunday, he took on the issue of subscription auto renewals. http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/yourmoney/96726614.html?elr=KArks:DCiU1PciUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUU

The longer I have control of my own time, the more I observe myself taking on the characteristics of some of the retired people that I meet. I think of my former father-in-law, a man in his mid-90s who is an army of one against anything that he considers to be a bad idea -- vulgarity, Democrats, religious freedom for religions that he doesn't like. [Hey, we all have people in our families that we love in spite of some characteristics.] He writes a lot of letters. He sent a protest letter about the car commercial that obliquely implied that the little girl was conceived in the back seat of the Chrysler Concorde, a marketing campaign designed to add youth to a car that seems like it should be following the casket. The commercial was removed from the air. I learned a lot about writing complaint letters at his irascible knee.

So, back to John Ewoldt. I wrote him the following letter and wondered what kind of answer I'd get.
Dear Mr. Ewoldt,

I enjoy your column and read it every Sunday. Your column last Sunday on auto renewals struck a chord with me. It's a practice I loathe and I opt out whenever possible. The only supplier with whom I currently have business dealings who does this the Star-Tribune. This becomes even a little more annoying when there is a missing paper or a delivery problem and Customer Service promises a credit. But that invoice envelope shows up as usual with no change in either the subscription end date or the dollar amount, making one wonder how a credit manifests itself. Customer Service has no clue when called for a follow-up and sometimes I've gone through this cycle three times before giving up. Perhaps that's the strategy.

I genuinely like your column and don't want to throw in a negative twist but an excellent topic for a future column would be how to get a better value from your employer. This exercise of calling to cancel in order to get a better per issue price every time my subscription expires rather than paying the jacked up invoice price is getting a little old. Ditto on finding discount codes on-line and using them on your website. It simply ought to be easier.

Thank you for your consideration.

Early the next morning, I had a response. It wasn't substantive but I appreciate the guy's honesty:
...thanks for reading the Star Tribune despite the difficulties the renewal dept. You’re right that I should write about it, but I doubt that’s going to happen. As a consumer, you have every right to ask. Wish I could be of more help on that.

John Ewoldt
Dollars & Sense columnist
Star Tribune
425 Portland Av. South
Minneapolis, MN 55488
John's Dealspotter blog is a winner and a bridge to removing the "paper" from the paper once and for all. Take that, renewal service agent!

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