Just saying…

Sometimes I think when people say healthcare is broken, it’s really about this. It’s about the cost that so many of us have to go through to get quality care.

Also customer service. When I speak to customer service as I did today, my language is devoid of any cursing or high volume. I speak in an even tone, as if I was explaining a concept to a student. But in it all, I said the words “I am disappointed” and asked “how can you help me?” But at some point out of frustration, I couldn’t help but say, “So it seems like incompetence has surfaced here. I don’t you as a representative have incentives to help your customers.”

What happened to: “I hear what you’re saying. I understand how frustrating it can be. I would feel the same way as you do.”

None in this case.

Seventy Degrees

The house is warm, I think, as I climb the stairs. I push open my door and dump my bag onto the ground. I breathe and momentarily I am distracted. Put away clothes. Check email. Check phone. Drink water. Check plants. Water plants.

Oh time to take shower.

As I change into my robe, the furnace roars on and the warm air rushes out. I step into the bathroom across the cool tile and shower.

I know how it will be like and prepare myself when I re-enter my room. It’s certainly warm and my body has absorbed the heat from the shower. I push the buttons on my air purifier. Within minutes, the air is cooler and in my mind, I believe that the air is magically cleaner.

I put away my clothes. Then I hear the steps move across the hallway. Then back. The door closes and it’s the time. I open my door and tiptoe to the control panel. SEVENTY DEGREES. A post-it nearby says “65 DEGREES PLEASE. IT SAVES ENERGY.” No matter, I toggle the programs to check which program is running. The thermostat is set to 65 degrees, but the apartment is set at 70. I push the button around now it won’t turn unless the temperature drops to 60 degrees.

I feel a rise inside me as I think about the rising power costs.

No matter at all. Last Friday, I was scolded for people who can’t live 60 degrees or below because they will suffer. We won’t suffer, I guarantee it. We’re all young and healthy. You didn’t show me your blue hands. So you don’t have it. But just say so.

One of the greatest skills to have as an adult

I didn’t like the assignment that much—the idea of going up to strangers and asking them if they want to sign up for a mailing list. But I did it anyway, because it was my assignment. After all, my goal was to support organizations dedicated to social causes.

Our “team” was of 4 people or so. Each of us were given a FAQ prior to the event which I read thoroughly and printed it out.

“Do we have a pitch?” I said.

“Oh I think that people will just say whatever they want.”

I grimaced, knowing exactly how that would go. Partly because I didn’t quite trust people to know how to involve people, make them feel empowered, and engage them at the right level. But instead, I shoved my distrust aside and just smiled, saying some words that I would say.

So with all the experiences I had in establishing rapport for user research, I dragged out the extrovert and approached people. All at once, with the first ten people, I chatted up people. Complimented their signage. Created a safe space where they could opt in freely without any pressure. Set expectations of the email message and/or text message frequency. And most of all, thank them them for showing up.

Interestingly, although it wasn’t a competition, I was able to garner more than 10. Credit, yes, for myself. But I thought about this—my most hated type of job to beg for support. And yet, success did arrive nonetheless. But I hope at least this wouldn’t be everything that I would need to do.

I swept the water away

Last Friday, after a very successful phone call, I crawled outside my bathroom window onto an ledge that is surrounded by a wall of my building, the bathroom window, my room’s window and the wall of the neighboring building…and a small opening that overlooks the alley between my building and the neighboring building. In short, it’s an useless area that the architect decided to include so that all rooms could have a window.

It’s also an area where pigeons love to perch and coo ridiculously. And…with the recent torrential rains, rainwater collected. A few weeks ago, I had Chris roll the pigeon eggs out of the nest, just a few inches. Then two weeks later after I removed the eggs (and hilarity ensued), rainwater collected into a massive puddle.

Several years ago, I experienced an infestation of no-see-ums. I didn’t know where they came from. Mosquitos? In the cold San Francisco? I knew my window was not fully secure with its single panel of glass. And I knew that they loved standing water. Yet where would that standing water be?

Of course, in this alcove after I started kicking the pigeons out.

I went outside with a broom from the garage. In my waterproof hiking boots, I swept the water off the alcove onto the alleyway below. Swish swish. With satisfaction, I heard the drops of water splash onto the concrete, the hard splatter of water, and the drip of a wall that was still wet. I emptied out at least 7/8 of the puddle until I found the culprit which I removed with a gloved hand. Debris clogged up the drain and soon, the water swirled into the pipe until there was no water left.

I hastily climbed back up through the bathroom window, awkwardly crossing my legs and trying my best not to bring dirt inside by removing the boots. Then once inside, I pulled the broom out and ran downstairs to the garage, trying my best not to drip water, and returned the broom to its position in the garage standing against the tall chest.

Later, in the alleyway, I saw the door rug moved aside for the puddles to dry.

So then how about Uber?

In the most awkward conversation possible despite the crazy recent PR issues, the female recruiter said this after hearing my emphasis on about what I was seeking (mission-driven company that aims to support underserved communities):
“So how about Uber? You seem to know a lot of people there.”

Needless to say, I was shocked.