Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cold, Colder, Coldest

When I was in Chennai we used to say there were three seasons, hot, hotter and hottest. Towards the end of my stay there, the heat really didn't bother me too much--I think your body eventually adjusts and maybe your blood even gets thinner or thicker to compensate. Now I am experiencing the reverse--cold and snowy Michigan winter like I haven't seen since I was a child. Detroit just never gets much snow--but this year it seems like all it is doing is snowing, melting, freezing, and snowing again. On Monday the temperature got down to 4 degrees Fahrenheit--that's about -16 Celsius. Brrr.....I really don't mind the snow--in fact I like it--but don't like the extreme cold that makes it hard to even contemplate going outside.
Our sea shipment was delivered on Monday. Altogether, it took about 2 months from the day I saw it loaded and locked in Chennai on a beautiful sunny afternoon in December to its unloading and unpacking in these subzero temperatures. Everything except one dining room chair, which had a broken leg, arrived intact. It didn't appear that U.S. Customs did more than open the container--nothing was disturbed. So now I'm in the middle of boxes again, though not nearly as many as we had in storage, so it shouldn't take too long. That is the end of the great move. Junior is very happy to be reunited with her favorite chair, so much so that she slept the entire afternoon on it yesterday.
One thing I have noticed since coming back is that despite all the complaints and frustration I had in India about service, here in the U.S. it can also be abysmally poor. Here the issue doesn't seem to be as much about staff turnover--the economy means that people really can't job hop the way they do in India--but competence and attitude. For example, our Verizon account got screwed up on two counts---address and phone features--and it took as much time and psychic energy to get it fixed as it would have in India (and no, it didn't go to a call center there--everything happened right here in the U.S.) In the case of both mistakes, it was simple carelessness on the part of the Verizon staff. Often, I have noticed in service establishments that people seem distracted and inattentive--as if their mind is on something else (which it probably is). And, there is the ubiquitous use of cell phones--even more than when I left three years ago, though this is probably a worldwide phenomena. From our cleaning lady to the moving crew to drivers on the road, people cannot stay off the phone for even an hour. It interrupts everything they do.

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