Friday, May 31, 2013

Mo Money, Mo Problems? No. Less Money, Mo Problems

Let me take you back to a simpler time. The year was 1997. Hong Kong was handed back to China from England. Bill Clinton was inaugurated for his second term as President and Madeleine Albright became the first female Secretary of State. We said goodbye to Mother Teresa and hello to Rebecca Black (although we didn't know the horrors she would release on our world for many years). I turned 12. And Notorious B.I.G taught us that "mo money" led to "mo problems". Not to hate on Biggie, but I have recently learned that it's actually "less money, mo problems". I will admit that his title flows much better than mine.

Just a few posts ago (Vroom Vroom), I explained the hell my car (and mostly Don Jacobs Honda) has been putting me through this year. My car must have read the post or something because it decided to get me once more. I was checking my bank balance online yesterday to see if my paycheck had been deposited yet (side note, it had not despite the fact that it is supposed to be deposited on the 15th and 30th of each month and maybe if it had deposited on time some of this hot mess could've been avoided). I was shocked to discover that my checking account balance was negative. I don't know much about finances, but I know that a negative balance is not ideal. But what had happened? I'm usually very good about balancing my checkbook and I'd done so just the other day before buying a new camera to take to China in July. I was supposed to have $80 or so in there.

My friend Laurel doesn't call me Sherlock Holmes with a Better Rack for nothing; I did some investigatory work and discovered that I had not recorded my most recent tire purchase...that was no small chunk of change either. So that had done it. Now, some people would see this as being my mistake...I can see how you might come to that conclusion. But, you've clearly forgotten that the villain of this story is Don Jacobs so I'll be blaming them (because, why not?).

Of course I had no idea of the negative balance because my bank didn't call me or anything so I'd used my debit card twice more. And thanks to all the other car crapola, I'd had to use the majority of my savings to cover that which means I didn't have enough in my savings to cover the mistake. Hello overdraft charges. I've had two overdraft charges at $32 a pop. So, that's fun. One of the overdraft charges was on a charitable donation; talk about no good deed going unpunished. The other overdraft charge is much more ridiculous and embarrassing.

I went to the mall the other day and I found myself really wanting a cookie. Let's not even touch the fact that I'm not supposed to eat gluten and eggs. I really wanted that stinking cookie and I was going to have it because that's how I roll. I went on over to the Great American Cookie Company and got myself a cookie. I thought I had cash but it turns out I didn't have enough on me. I would typically interpret that as a sign to not eat the cookie, but the girl had already packaged it and everything so I didn't want to be a pain (plus I really wanted it). $3.19 on the old debit card, no big deal. I was wrong. YES big deal because that stupid cookie cost me $35.19 when all was said and done. I take it back; that cookie wasn't stupid, it was delicious.

So this whole situation isn't my fault. It's not my car's fault. And it isn't the cookie's fault. Yep, I'm still blaming Don Jacobs. They are my El Niño for the time being. They are responsible for all the bad things ever. Also they're stupid and I hate their faces. They are Bad News Bears.

I did get one letter from my bank yesterday and another today informing me of the two overdrafts on my account. Letters. In 2013, my bank seems to think that snail mail is the most effective way to tell me that I'm spending money I don't have. How ridiculous is that? I've got an online account with them, they have my email address and my phone number. Let's not forget that emails and phone calls are free whereas letters are not. That's the whole reason the USPS is suffering; why pay to send something that takes a couple of days when you could just do it all immediately and for free? Maybe my bank is devoted to keeping the mail running. Well, good for them. I sure am happy they're taking a stand (sarcasm).

I've been periodically checking the App Store to see if my bank had a mobile app so that I could monitor my accounts with the precision and obsession of any good OCD sufferer, but up to this point there was no such luck. While I was on hold with them today, I heard an ad for their mobile app. Naturally I downloaded it and got all that squared away. But again, why had they not informed me about the app? An email, an announcement on the website or even a letter would've done the trick. Come on, bank.

Needless to say, lesson learned on my part. And now I've got multiple methods of overdraft protection and backup protection. What a fun start to summer!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Radio Star

In a previous post, I mentioned that I listen to The Bob & Sheri Show in the mornings and that I'm friends with Sheri Lynch on Facebook and how she has even liked a few of my statuses which is pretty stinking cool. Amy Jo went as far to say that maybe some day Sheri would read one of my statuses on the air. How crazy would that be?

I'll tell you how crazy, because it actually happened. THAT'S RIGHT! I was driving to work on Monday, May 20, 2013 and I needed to stop off at Kroger on the way. Naturally, I was listening to Bob & Sheri. I literally had my hand on my keys to turn off the ignition when I heard Sheri say that she wanted to share something Erin Black posted on Facebook. Hey, I know Erin Black! I am Erin Black! So she read my status and she and Bob laughed and it was freaking awesome!!

And then I made a Facebook status about her reading my status on air (this is beginning to sound like Inception) and she commented that it was a good one. Clearly I am now a famous radio star. But I'm not too worried about video killing me because I think my skill set and personality would play well in any medium (except maybe miming).

I was thinking the other day that I wouldn't make a very good radio personality if I had to do a show with requests and dedications. Somehow I don't think people would appreciate my smart ass responses to their stories or the completely inappropriate songs I would choose to play.

You can hear Sheri read my status on their podcast. It's the May 20th show and it's in the 6 am portion about 11.5 minutes in. And for your reading pleasure, here it is:

Dear God,

Thanks for making the radio station wait to play Nickelback until I turned into my driveway. Ideally, they would never be played at all but I know that you said in this world we would have troubles.

-Erin Black

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I'm Not Surprised

By now I think that everyone has heard about the comment made by Abercrombie & Fitch CEO, Mike Jeffries. But in case you've been living under a rock with no WiFi access for the past couple of weeks, I'll summarize it for you. Basically, a seven-year old comment went viral this week in which Jeffries talked about the fact that A&F is a very exclusionary store which caters to a specific type of clientele. He continued to talk about how the clothes are meant for the beautiful, cool kids and that's why the "women's" sizes at A&F only go up to a size 10 in pants and a size large in shirts. Needless to say, people (aka the Internet) are outraged...and I'm a little confused.

I'm not saying that this quote doesn't disgust me. It's a moronic viewpoint that perpetuates too many terrible viewpoints to count. This is the type of mentality that results in kids being bullied for not having a certain brand of clothing and girls having eating disorders to they can look like all the other super cool Barbies in the cafeteria. I think the man is an idiot and should've known better than to actually say that statement in an interview. And the business major in me shakes my head at the huge (no pun intended) chunk of the market that this company is missing out on. After all, it's all about money. However, I just don't get why people are just now realizing that A&F is run by a bunch of douchebags.

First of all, this comment is seven years old. Would we not have been equally outraged seven years ago? I honestly think that the Erin of 2006 would be more pissed than the Erin of 2013, but whatever. I've never been able to shop at Abercrombie & Fitch and I honestly never saw the appeal. Even as a [stupid, image-focused, materialistic] teenager all their crap was way too expensive to waste money on. And then they started blaring all that crappy music and pumping that toxic, bro-tastic "cologne" throughout the store which (to this day) makes me hold my breath if I have to walk by the place. And I'm pretty sure I remember some big to do about their catalogs having nude models. Nude models...to sell clothes.

I've never had the ideal A&F body type; I'm not certain why that's a bigger deal now in 2013 than it was when people my age actually shopped at that store in the early 2000's, but apparently it is. I think I had one A&F shirt that I happened upon in some sort of consignment store and miraculously fit me. Everyone is acting as though every other clothing line in the world is so considerate towards anyone who may be a little overweight, and that is a damn, dirty lie.

Plenty of clothing lines operate under the same philosophy as Abercrombie & Fitch, they've just never come right out and said it. I have a specific memory of being in an Express looking for jeans when I was in high school and being unable to find the size 13/14. I asked a sales girl about it and she told me that there might be some of those sizes somewhere but that the company was only going to go up to size 10/12 now so if I could find any, they'd be old. The Erin of that year was irked; and she may or may not have looked at that girl and said, "Let me get this straight. I keep hearing about how America is becoming more and more obese and you people are getting rid of our clothes?"

I'm not defending what Mike Jeffries says or does. I'm just saying that I don't understand why anyone is surprised. I'm fairly certain that anyone who would be offended enough by the his comments to stop shopping there, is already not shopping at A&F. If you're going to boycott A&F for their marketing techniques, you'd better be ready to boycott a lot of other stores too because Abercrombie is not alone.

An Irish Spring on a Summer's Eve

The other day, the phrase "Summer's eve," came to mind. Every morning, my boyfriend and I text each other while getting ready. We'd taken a break from our texting so that he could shower and when he returned I asked if he was "so fresh and so clean, clean," because I like to incorporate lyrics from popular songs into every day life (because I am awesome).

So he responded that he was as fresh as an Irish Spring, since that's the soap he uses. For whatever reason, the phrase "Irish spring" made my mind jump to "summer's eve". I didn't say that it made sense, that's just how my mind works (deal with it). Naturally I then found myself thinking about the line of lady parts products called Summer's Eve. I've actually written about these products before; long, long ago in my very second blog post.

Anyway, back to my realization. I thought about the typical summer evening in Kentucky (or anywhere in the South for that matter). There is no way that the people behind the name "Summer's Eve" have spent any significant time in the South.

A Southern summer evening is only slightly less miserable than a Southern summer day. It's hot, humid, and muggy. You're sweaty even though you're not moving and you're too exhausted to move. Plus there are probably mosquitoes and June bugs all over the freaking place. Nothing about that says, "freshness" to me.

I wonder if the product does well in Southern markets or if it's more like the Chevy Nova not selling in Spanish-speaking countries since no va means "doesn't go" in Spanish (which according to the Wikipedia link is an urban legend, when did that happen?!). Something to think about there.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Vroom vroom

Over the past couple of months, my car has been have a love affair with my bank account. I have been less than thrilled about the relationship. I'm typing this post from the waiting room at Sears Auto Center. Let's see, where did it all begin?

I drive a 2007 Honda Accord and it's a great car. However, want to know what year the iPod hookup came standard on the Accord? 2008. So I've been meaning to get that installed for awhile now. For Christmas I got the money to do just that. I figured I'd go to the dealer. I'd already talked to them about it and I didn't want just some random person messing with my car...and I'm too lazy to look into various options.

The appointment was set for an early March afternoon. There was also a recall on something and they were going to try to do that too. It would take about an hour. At least that's what they told me at Don Jacobs Honda. I want to call attention to the name of the business, and you'll see why soon enough.

When I got there, I found out that the recall would take several hours, so I set up an appointment for a day I didn't have to go to school. I didn't mind that since they hadn't promised to do that part of the service at that particular moment. Oh, and as long as they're working on it, my passenger side door no longer cares to lock or unlock automatically. After a solid 2 hours in the waiting room (thank God for my iPad), I was informed that they didn't have the right cable for the hookup or it was faulty or something. So now the original reason I brought my car in would have to wait until my other appointment. But don't worry, I didn't leave without having something done!

"There's a big chunk out of one of your front tires," they said. "We recommend replacing tires two at a time and since you've had to wait here we'll charge you for just the tires and not the labor." I actually knew about replacing tires two at a time, so I figured alright, go for it. "And, it would cost $100 just to open up the door and diagnose the problem let alone fix it," they told me. I figured it was cheaper for me to lean over and use my arm to lock and unlock the door, for free. About $300 later, I was on my way...not listening to my iPod.

Fast forward to the next appointment. My original plan was to wait there because it was only going to take a few hours. Luckily my brother had come home and was able to give me a lift. The shop looked busy. "There are going to be a lot of people hopping on and off your car today," they told me. I thought to myself, "Why wouldn't you just knock all the work out and get the car out of the way? Well, maybe that's why I teach Spanish rather than run an auto shop."

After about 4 hours or so, I get a call. The iPod hookup has still not been installed and the recall was in process. But apparently my front brake pads were at "about 5%," so we gotta fix those. I wondered how they'd missed that item when I'd been in two weeks earlier. Amy Jo later brought up the fact that I had the rear brakes replaced in December and they'd said my front brakes should be good for awhile. But whatever. A few hours later, no iPod but hey let's talk about alignment. They promise that it's going to be done by the end of business that day (7:30 pm or so). They even had a guy staying late to work on it, they said. A little while later, "Well it's definitely going to be ready first thing tomorrow morning. Oh and PS, you need some fluid replaced...we can't tell which one. It's either brake or transmission. We do that for $85 a piece. And do you need a rental car? Blah blah blah." Don't worry, I drew the line at the damn fluids. You can't tell which one it is? Seriously? There's no test you can do?

That's when I called Amy Jo and gave her the lowdown. So she calls down there and let's them know what's up. She knows cars and she knows they've been screwing me and if that car is not ready by noon (that's right, pushed back to noon) tomorrow there will be hell to pay." Later that night we discuss how she's always heard that Don Jacobs is notorious for this type of BS. Hmm, that would've been nice to know before now.

So at about 11:47 the next morning, she calls them. And what do you know, they juuuuust finished. A big part of me wanted them to miss the deadline because I wanted to watch my mom totally lose her cool at the dealership. But alas, that was not meant to be. Another $600 or so later, ta-da here's my car! For those of you keeping score at home, that's between $900-$1,000 I've spent on my car in about a 3 week period. I had planned to spend $300.

But wait! What about that mystery fluid that was dirty or whatever? I told my friend Gilfy about it. "Come to Sears," he said, "we do that for like $36." Sold. I took my car over the next day after work. He did a little litmus paper test (or car pregnancy test as I like to call it) on my fluids. See, I KNEW there was a test they could've done! He told me the fluids were fine. He even asked one of his colleagues to be sure. "What else on my car was perfectly fine?" I asked myself.

Then there was a blissful period in which all I had to do was fill 'er up with gas. That, I could handle. In early May, the oil light came on but I knew it was coming so I stayed cool. I planned out the world's most productive Saturday, complete with the world's most beautiful to do list. Oil change was #2 on the list, right after dropping the dog off to be groomed. There was no wait at all at VIOC. Sweet! I couldn't believe how fast it was going. I was going to crush my to do list.

"This back passenger tire is really low. There are two nails in it." Wait, wait, wait, wait. What? Are you shitting me? The Saturday of Productivity would be taking a detour via S&S Tire. Luckily Amy Jo could pick me up and let me use her car. Now, as previously mentioned, tires should be replaced in twos...so I was looking at 2 more tires. And an alignment because that's certainly been all jacked up driving on those crap tires.

Come to find out, the back tires were older than dirt. As in 2007 & 2008. They were down to their last bits of rubber. One had an impact bump on it; probably from hitting a curb or sidewalk...I wish I weren't familiar with that, but I'm not the best driver. All I could think of was, "Why didn't Don Jacobs try to get me for that, too?" The people at S&S Tire told me that anyone who knew anything should've told me about the tires. So, they (Don Jacobs Honda) charge me for crap I don't need while not fixing the things I do. Huh. "What an odd way to do business," thought the girl with a degree in business.

That was Saturday. Surely to the good Lord there could not be any more. Why hello, Tuesday. What's that car? You're making a strange whiny, chirpy noise. That seems foreboding. My boyfriend later diagnosed this issue as a fan belt. It's not a big deal but I was beyond frustrated. So I rolled on over to Sears after work and told them that I needed a fan belt belted or whatever it's called. It's all fixed now, and it wasn't very expensive but it just felt like it's all hit me at once. My car is almost 6 years old, so it makes sense. I understand it...but that doesn't mean I have to like it. I'm not going to jinx myself by saying that nothing else will go wrong. For all I know, there's a family of possums living in the wheel wells or something.

I suppose that's the end of my car saga. I'm long-winded. The moral of the story is: don't ever take your car to Don Jacobs Honda. They are shady folk. My plan was to buy another Honda there whenever I need a new car. That is no longer my plan.