Archive for February 11th, 2012

In Defense of an Idea…

First, a video… you may have seen it, or at least heard about it, recently.

Second, my response to it. Some of these thoughts relate to comments that I read over at the linked article, but hopefully without the explicit context, the idea comes through.

I actually knew Tommy, we used to hang out about 12-13 years ago, when a friend of mine from ROTC was his roommate. And he know his IT stuff then (as one of the managers for the local ISP, back when a local ISP was actually a viable thing). At the time, he spoke highly of his daughter and his love and hopes for her. He was willing to do just about anything, and provide just about anything, for her. Like most parents.

Based on the context given – that something similar had happened before and a warning was issued – I fully agree with the spirit of the act. Personally, I would have done the deed a little differently, but I’m not a gun guy. What some people don’t really think about, though, is that kids can be sneaky. Deprive them of something, and they will find a way to get back to it. He couldn’t just take the computer away. Unless he physically removed it from the house, there would always be a chance she could snoop for it, and anytime she would be left alone she could try to sneak access.

The fact that it reached that point, however, falls back to point out a societal shift in values. We have, collectively, turned from raising free-thinking, active, motivated  people to complacent, instant gratification junkies that get huffy if they don’t get what they want when they want it and throw a tantrum if you tell them “no,” and it starts when they are young. There are no manuals for children. While there are plenty of handbooks and general guides, each child is different. Each situation is different. They learn by pushing the limits to see how much they can get away with, and the first establishers of limits are the parents.

Do I think that Tommy has done/is doing a bad job raising his kid? Meh. I’m not him, and I haven’t seen the home situation so I can’t really make an opinion. (That whole “don’t judge someone until you’ve walked in their shoes” thing.) The only failure, if you can even really call it that, is being a product of the current generation and providing his teenage daughter access to all kinds of shiny. But that’s part of the rub. Teenage. They get huffy and stupid over the oddest things, and create all sorts of melodrama over what should be nothing (like the chore list: twenty to thirty minutes to finish the items mentioned).

Some of the commenters have gotten all frothy, suggesting: “You took away her laptop so now her grades will suffer in school since so much is going that way.” Um, how do you figure? Yes, there is a lot of work moving that direction, but I haven’t seen too many high schools that are running a Blackboard style environment where regular online work is required. And how does taking away a “personal” laptop indicate that she won’t be able to complete the other required scholastic activities. Need to write a research paper? There’s a thing called a library. They have books, and something called a reference section. The paper needs to be typed? One of the parents types it after she has already hand written it, and she has to learn how to proof and edit her own work without the auto-correct or grammar indicators. Knowing Tommy, he probably has enough parts available that he could set up a dummy box with just enough resources on it for her to do basic assignments for school (say, Office), and anything requiring the internet is done under adult supervision – as it probably should be anyway.

There was also another commenter that mentioned that he should buy her another computer. I think they missed the point entirely. The computer itself was irrelevant – it was just the tool that was used to relay her teenage frothy-ness. Yes, it is natural for kids (teenagers especially) to grumble about their parents. As pissed off as you may get at your parents, however, they are still your parents. Their house, their rules, and until you start supporting yourself you don’t get much of a say in the matter. Yes, it sucks, but the parents job is to teach you how to fend for yourself, not how to go stomp-stomp-pout-pout-I-don’t-wanna often enough to get your way.

Yet another response suggested that he was violating her privacy by going around the “block” to see her Facebook wall. Again, um, how do you figure. See previous statement about parent’s house = parent’s rules. And it’s the internet. Also called the “world wide” web, remember? If it’s on the internet, it’s not “private.” Private is writing it in a diary/journal/notebook that is kept in the bedside stand. Posting anything on the internet is  potentially pouring gasoline on your future self – it doesn’t go away. Anything out there will be archived and available to search engines years from now. It wouldn’t surprise me if in the future, employers do internet checks on prospective new hires (especially for management), and what has been posted in the past could haunt you (people have been fired today for similar things). A parent’s job is to monitor their child’s activities – not  authoritarianly control them – but monitor and educate, and I’m not just talking about activities on the internet here. She failed to learn the original lesson, and I think it took escalating the consequences for it to actually sink in. Sometimes it happens like that.

The real world doesn’t work like that, and more parents need to realize that, and understand that just because your child wants something doesn’t mean you have to give it to them.

I hope that other parents can actually think about this, not as the isolated incident that people are wanting to address, but as a reaction to a culmination of points that have been passed though – and understand that they, too, are probably walking in similar shoes. To other soon-to-be parents (or anyone planning to be a parent in the future), think about what you can do to be proactive early so you won’t have to feel that you’ve been pushed to the same limits.

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Some Work Related Rants…

A few small rants for today…. Both of these stem from the regular day job, and the… um, interesting… things that the people come up with.

First off, a question that I always ask in the process of fielding any “message” calls is to ask what kind of number the caller is leaving, usually just by asking if it’s a home phone or a cell number. If they answer that they are leaving a work number, I further clarify how late they are at work, and a possible alternate number if the caller would not be working until at least 5pm. But I get twitchy at some of the answers, especially when the caller just can’t grasp giving a straight answer. When they respond with just, “It’s my contact number” like they have a chip on the shoulder at having the question asked in the first place, I wonder if they just don’t understand the specific words that were used in the question.

Then, when I get people that think they are being smart, like the person I had the other day that said, “Well, so many people use cell phones now that a cell phone and a home phone are the same thing.” Um, sorry, no, they are not. Yes, a cell phone can be primary contact number. Yes, on some forms (especially on line) you have to fill in a “home phone number” field or the website chokes on the missing data. A cell phone, however, can not be a home phone since: a) it is not actually hardwired into the structure of your house (aka, a “landline”), b) carrying the telephone more than a few hundred yards from the house does not cause the device to lose contact with the base (for “cordless” phones).

So, today’s first lesson: Cellular ≠ Home phones.

The other thing, today, that gets frustrating in the calls that I process… People call in, and will leave a call back number, but don’t want to leave a message.

Caller: “I want to talk to my doctor/my doctor’s nurse.”
Me: “Okay. What kind of issue is it?”
Caller: “It’s about my health.”
Me: [Thinking – No shit, you’ve called your doctor’s office.] “Is it about your medication, or something you’ve got going on?”
Caller: “It’s about one of my prescriptions.”
Me: “Which one?”
Caller: [Long convoluted story that goes on for at least five minutes where they tell me that they were just seen in the office three days ago, and they tried to take their prescriptions to the pharmacy, but the copay is too high, because the doctor said it was on the $4 list, and it wasn’t, and I just want my doctor to call me so they can call me something else in, but at no time do they actually mention the name of the drug in question.]
Me: [Repeat back to confirm the basic information of needing a medication changed due to the copay being to high.]
Caller: “Right.”
Me: “Okay, which medication?”
Caller: [They either fumble with the name, or say they don’t know since they left the script at the pharmacy.]
Then we finish getting the pharmacy information and finish with the message.

OR the scenario sometimes plays out like this:

Caller: “I want to talk to my doctor/my doctor’s nurse.”
Me: “Okay. What kind of issue is it?”
Caller: “It’s about my health.”
Me: [Thinking – No shit, you’ve called your doctor’s office.] “Is it about your medication, or something you’ve got going on?”
Caller: “Just have my doctor call me.”
Me: “Okay, what’s it about?”
Caller: “Just have my doctor call me.”
[Repeat a few more times, explaining that it allows the medical staff to be better prepared when they call you back – no specific details, just a basic idea of what’s going on.]

Here’s a tip: if you are calling a place of business (yes, a doctor’s office is considered a business), if you want a quicker call back, leave an informed message. If you provide even just a few snippets of information, then the nurse will actually know, or be be prepared to handle, what you are wanting to discuss when they call you back.

Otherwise, you may have to get something like this:

Caller: “I called yesterday and I haven’t been called back yet… I [am having this issue].”
Me: “Yes, I see that you called but you didn’t specify [the issue]. The message that was left just indicated that you wanted to be called.” [Then commence with taking a note that actually explains why the person wants to be called, so the staff can then better help them.]
So, second lesson: For best service results, if you have to leave a message when you call a place of business, leave an actual message about why you are calling, not just your name and number.

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