Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Collection of News-Worthy Items

I spent last night writing a letter of complaint to Fido phone company. To make a very long story short, they charged me $60 for an extra month of not using their services, after I requested my phone be disconnected. I do not like large corporations. They can get away with murder, because they are faceless. Nobody takes responsibility for anything. Tonight, I thought about the customers whom I dealt with when I worked at eBay. I remember some of them were royally screwed over by eBay, but because of company policy, there was nothing I could do to help them. In particular, I recall this one member, ' beautiflstuff . ' She sells body jewelry. To make another long story short, eBay deleted one of the categories that she had hundreds of items listed in. eBay's computers automatically dumped all these listings into a different, inaccurate, category. As such, she lost business because customers were not finding the listings. She had to end these hundreds of listings one by one, and relist them. I could not refund her anything and there was nobody to help her list the items again. All I could do was sheepishly apologize. I talked with her for an hour, and to this day I still feel bad about her plight.

Tonight I had an idea. What if I emailed 'beautiflstuff' out of the blue today, and said "Hey, I'm that ex-eBay employee you talked to," and offered her $60 out of my own pocket? Rather than achieve some justice in the world by prying my $60 out of Fido's hands, I could take some responsibility on eBay's behalf, and right a wrong that a large, faceless corporation caused.

So, what do you think? Am I silly for wanting to play God, and bring justice to the world? Will I weird out the jewelry seller and lose $120 between Fido and eBay? Or should I do something wild and crazy, in order to make the world a fraction of a better place?

In other news, thanks to Ryan's mom for including nummy cheese and crackers in Ryan's care package. He shared them with me, along with some peanut butter and jam. I also got a care package of a different sort, from my mom today. As soon as I saw the customs declaration, which states 'precision ball pens,' I knew something was fishy. The parcel also had a 'security' sticker on it, something I didn't recall my previous packages having.



My mom can be an unpredictable woman sometimes so I tried to inconspicuously put it aside to open later. I didn't want a whole room of teachers to see the scalp of a metis my mom sent, or worse yet the multiple personality disorder medication I forgot to pack with me (Shh, they don't need to know that, Henrietta!).

But a chorus of 'open it, open it!' egged me on. Inside the package were.... precision ball pens. But the package was folded and taped in an odd manner around... another package, of papermate pens.



The suspense was palatable as I opened the second box, to reveal six more pens, and (wait for it.......................) drugs.



Hidden behind the pens was a prescription of Oseltamivir phosphate capsules, the 'avion flu virus cure' that my mom had said she was going to send a few months back. Apparently they are quite expensive and have either a 50% (according to my mom) or 70% (according to wikipedia) success rate.

I was not aware exactly how coveted this drug is until I looked it up on wikipedia just now. Apparently, this drug cannot be synthetically produced; rather it is made from an acid in star anise (a Chinese cooking spice that tastes great with bbq duck).

Star anise is grown in four provinces in China and harvested between March and May. The shikimic acid is extracted from the seeds in a ten-stage manufacturing process. 13 grams of star anise makes 1.3 grams of shikimic acid, which can be made into 10 Tamiflu capsules. 90% of the harvest is already used by Roche in making Tamiflu.


Goverments have been stockpiling Oseltamivir phosphate capsules, which were widely used in Southeast Asia during the outbreak this year. Only one company, Roche, makes the drug, although a second company is vying to gain the rights to do so as well. Roche has stopped all shipments of this drug to North America as of this October, due to stockpiling issues that result in a shortage of the drug in high-risk areas. Roche says it will now only ship the drug to China's health ministry. Another twist is that Tamiflu has also been known to cause people to jump out of windows and moving trucks, in studies conducted in Japan. Anyway, thank you, Mom, for smuggling me the drugs. I'm quite touched you want me to live should a pandemic occur. Thank you also for the cough medicine you sent last month (labeled 'candy' on the customs form). I currently have a cough and am putting it to good use.



Moving along to other news, kids vomit a lot here in Korea. Brent said he counted 8 piles of vomit on his way to work the other morning. That's about one pile per every two minutes of walking. Today a kid threw up in my K7 class. Actually, class was over and I was scrambling to finish stuff up when some of the kids started pointing at Jordan. I looked over to see his hand clamped over his mouth. I mentally rolled my eyes, thinking oh no, what did he manange to do.. bite off his tongue while sitting in his chair? The poor boy couldn't move though, as he was clutching a rather large fistful of vomit, and trying not to spill. I ran to get paper towels, but changed my mind and grabbed a garbage can instead, which was a very good decision in hindsight. I then grabbed the nearest kid, Antonio, and instructed him to hold the garbage can under Jordan's mouth while I ran for paper towels. The look he shot me was priceless. It said, "Teacher, you expect me to do what?!" He looked like he was going to throw up too. I was touched that he held the can for his classmate anyway. Remember that post where I commented about Korean kids having exceptionally bad teeth? Perhaps it's due in part to eating crappy Lotteria fastfood and 'streetmeat,' and throwing up a lot. Stomach acid can definitely wear down teeth.

Finally, here are the photos of Palgong Mountain and Gatbawi Buddhist statue, the prize at the top. We hiked this mountain a couple weeks ago.

6 Comments:

Blogger moolz said...

I should get your mom to be a drug smuggler to other areas! Or at least ask her for some tamiflu! Darn flu attacks.

5:35 PM  
Blogger deepthoughts said...

Holy long post. Ok, here's what I think about the eBay situation... it's very sweet that you're being a bleeding heart about body-jewelry lady. My personal feeling about it is that she'll recover. It will take a lot of work, but yeah, she'll pull through and be OK. I don't think that you should give her money for nothing. I mean doing so might make her feel a little warm and fuzzy towards you for a while, and you might make a friend, but it's not really going to help her that much in the long run, and really there's not much point. Unless you just wanna be her friend, in which case you should just send her an email or buy some jewelry from her to insert into a body part. That would probably make her happiest being that she's a businesswoman.

You probably already know how I feel about eBay. I don't think it's like the other faceless corporations at all. Yeah, I know there were times when you talked to people you couldn't help, but you have to look at the big picture... and the big picture is pretty goshdarn beautiful if you ask me. It's a trading democracy. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

On your mom and her drug smuggling, lol, and aw, she's sweet and doesn't want you to die, and she's willing to be a drug smuggler for you:) Moms rule.

On the kids barfing, lol again. No really, I find that immensely funny for some reason. Probably cuz I'm not the poor kid holding the bucket. When I was in grade two in England a boy threw up in class and I went on and on to my friends about how gross it was, but then I couldn't handle the smell and I threw up too. Lol. I blame it on the teacher who didn't manage to get it cleaned up properly cuz man, that smell was naaaaasty.

Did you know there's actually a phobia of vomiting in public. It's called: Emetophobia.
Fear of vomit. Sufferers fear being sick in public, and are afraid of people watching them being sick.

I wonder how many of your students will develop that. Probably poor Antonio at least. hehehe.

10:36 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Omg your Mom is so cool!

7:10 PM  
Blogger s said...

Kat:

Regarding body-jewelry lady, I don't think her business was ever hurt that much to warrant a 'recovery.'

To clarify, the *main* intent behind giving body jewelry lady $60 is not to ease my conscience or provide a personal favor, but to right the more objective, global 'wrong' (whereby large corporations use their size to walk over individuals). You're right that eBay levels out the global economic playing field. Fido also levels out the economic playing field: it allows middle class people to combine a home and cell phone into one, for $45/month.

However, it's in the customer service where both companies use their anonymity and size to rake in substantial profits and eradicate the middle class they are alledgedly helping to create. In essense: Make yourself so hard to contact, that people will give up trying to reclaim their money. The referring people to different departments, the blaming other companies, the long wait times for customer service, the automated systems, the form responses, the circular protocol .. all of these are a company's strongest weapons, because they can use these to drive away that pesky customer who wants a credit, or who has a valid problem. Skip a refund here, add a clause there, and soon all the pilfering adds up to an amount that allows the corporation to become a monopoly in it's industry.

I think this is true of all large corporations I've encountered.. my university and bank included.

In the case of FIDO, the CRTC washes their hands of the matter, saying that all fees are 'between the customer and phone company'.

The only options are to call in to the convoluted and purposely emasculated phone service and spend half a day trying to convince various rungs of corporate ladder why I should get my money back, or sue.

The time, effort and stress required for either aren't worth it for $60, so this money quietly slips through the cracks and into the hands of a large corporation, while the middle class erodes by an inch.

6:27 AM  
Blogger deepthoughts said...

I just don't see how your giving $60 to this woman would do anything towards righting that wrong..? On the other hand, from the inside of customer support, you really do have the ability to save people time, money and stress. Maybe not in that particular case (although it could be something to suggest with regards to how category changes should be handled or something like that), but in so many other cases it's the people in those front line spots that get to really make a difference in how a person interacts with a company. I've experienced the same thing when I've had to contact other company's customer support. Fido, Shaw, Rogers... it would depend SO much on who I got on the phone whether I'd end up getting something done, get what I wanted, find out about something else that could help me, or just end up banging my head against the wall. It's sad but true. One of the things that is lacking in a lot of company's customer support is consistency. At times I've actually hung up on a bad rep and called again. Then the new person I got would answer my question immediately and I'd be happily on my way.

12:51 PM  
Anonymous `jhawke said...

so awesome! moms are the best. : ))

6:46 AM  

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