31 October 2019

Repair Man

I have been in the unfortunate position of requiring an engineer to come out to look at a problem that has developed with a tall AEG freezer I keep in my garage.  Although supposedly self-defrosting it ices up something shocking inside, so badly that all the drawers are iced to the back wall and difficult to pull out. The inner ceiling and inner floor of the freezer are thick with ice too.  I have only had the freezer two years and it is under a 5-year warranty, so I thought there would be no problem getting it fixed.

The problem was however in trying to get hold of a repair man to come out. AEG give you a number to ring under the warranty. Just one number. When you ring it, it is engaged. ALL THE TIME. I tried over four days to ring and was unsuccessful in getting through. In the end I sent an email. I got a holding reply saying my email would be handled within 10 working days. In frustration, I tried one last time to ring early on Saturday morning on the off-chance they might work on a Saturday and someone answered. Yayyyy. I booked an appointment for today sometime between 6am and 6pm.  I was told I would get an email the day before to narrow down the engineer's arrival time to a more respectable range of 2 hours.

My dilemma was whether to leave the freezer all frosted up to show the AEG engineer what the exact problem was, or to defrost it so there was nothing to see. I decided on the former, but at the same time, ran the freezer down so not too much would spoil if he did decide to work on it with all the drawers out.

Of course no email came to narrow down the time slot, so I was out of bed at 6am this morning to be ready. In the event, the engineer turned up at 11am, so not too bad a wait. He took one look at the problem and identified what needed doing, but said, as it was all frozen, he would not be able to do anything with it today. I was to defrost it and make another appointment for a call-out next week.

I rang that one  AEG number and got through first time. I was very chuffed as I considered they must have solved their phone problem. After pressing 1 for this and 2 for that, a friendly voice said I was number 5 in the queue. I got out the ironing board and did some ironing. After about 20 mins I had edged up the queue and an operator prompted me to tell them what I wanted. She said today's engineer had noted what needed to be done but before she could give me a call out appointment she had to speak to the engineer and put me on hold. I carried on ironing with the phone on speaker phone, bopping away to some beaty music for about 10 minutes. Suddenly I heard the stomach-churning sound of the disconnected tone.  Nooooooo. I waited, then turned the phone off hoping the operator would have my number on the system and call back. I waited for 20 minutes, giving her the benefit of the doubt. She didn't call.

I called back and was told I was now 12th in the queue. Reluctantly I decided to wait in the queue. I got down to about 6th in the queue when the disconnected tone happened again. By now I was shrieking expletives at the wall and tearing my hair out. Once more I dialled THE number. It was engaged. It was engaged for the next 8 attempts over a half-hour period. Then I got through. I was 6th in the queue. I waited and waited and waited and finally got through. I had to explain all over again to another operator who said that it was noted on computer that the other operator had tried to call me back but she couldn't get an outside line.  She told me, they apparently have a new phone system and it has teething problems. You're not kidding!!!! She apologised.

I now have another appointment booked for the end of next week. I'm not holding my breath. Meanwhile, I'm eating for 50 people to use up the contents of the freezer in time. I may become so fat, I shall not get through the door to let the engineer in. What else can go wrong?

Cartoon fridge Stock Vector - 30547076
courtesy of 123rf.com

14 October 2019

Lies Lies Lies

The week before last I was killing time at Stansted Airport, waiting to put Kay on a flight to Berlin for an International Medical Conference she was attending. Browsing the shelves of the well-known bookshop found in most high streets, stations and airports, I was half looking at my watch and half wondering what to buy to make myself look less like a shifty shoplifter. As I perused the shelves of the latest paperback books, my eyes fell upon one entitled Lies Lies Lies by Adele Parks. Suddenly on reading the resume on the back cover, I realised someone had written a book about me.  Or so it seemed from that resume.

Immediately I found myself at the till buying it. The first part of the book could definitely be about me. So many similarities, almost to the detail, about living with an alcoholic. I know the patterns of alcoholism are very similar, having been to Al-Anon meetings, or from articles about the subject, but I am talking intimate detail here, even down to where they go camping or my favourite Al-Anon slogan! 

I rarely read a book in a day or matter of days. I am usually so busy and so tired by the evening, that I am lucky to read a chapter at bedtime before sleep overcomes me. But this was different, I couldn't put it down. The similarities stopped about a third of the way through the book, but by then it had become so gripping I had to keep on reading. Chores and other pursuits got put to one side until I reached the end. It was well written and full of twists and turns. I wont spoil the story or the ending, but I thoroughly recommend it.

04 October 2019

Food bank

I've been helping out at the local food bank for the last few months. I know it seems a strange thing to say, but I enjoy it. I don't enjoy seeing other people's misery, of course, but I enjoy it for the fact that I can do something worthwhile and for the people I meet - both helpers and guests. 

The helpers are either local church members or retired people like me just wanting to do something useful or people who have been in that situation themselves in former times. All very friendly and caring. What's not to like? I've made a quite a few friends over the recent months by going in on the different days it operates.

As for the guests, as they are known, it varies according to the day of the week, the weather and what is on offer, but approximately 40 to 100 guests turn up for each session. Some days they get to sit and chat with others over a cup of tea and a bit of cake, as well as collect their free shopping bags full of tins, toiletries, bread and fruit, all donated by individuals, church collections or local supermarkets. On the busiest day, they get a two-course sit-down cooked meal, as well as their shopping bags. There is a washing machine, a shower and advice on benefits or housing. There's even an art class and a choir. The charity that runs it believes in a holistic approach to get them back on their feet. Not all are capable of getting back on their feet, but for some it is a temporary crutch while they are ill or homeless or jobless. Some are alcoholics, drug addicts or have mental health issues. It is not for the faint-hearted. A few weeks ago, a fight broke out between two of the alcoholic guests with punches thrown. It was amazing to see how the other guests leaped in to break it up, as it was not acceptable to them to see their foodbank abused. The majority are so grateful to receive anything and will politely thank us for whatever little we can give them. It is so humbling.

I can't help thinking when I see some of the inebriated guests, that it could have been Greg, if I had been unable to cope any more and had decided to leave him. Or me, if our finances had disappeared in a puff of smoke and alcohol, as they seemed to be heading at one stage. A part of me feels that, although I cannot save Greg, at least I am doing something positive to help another poor soul in need and I like to hope that, if Greg had ended up on the streets, there would have been someone in a foodbank somewhere to look after him.

Image result for picture of food bank