Monthly Archives: February 2007

The Shortest Week in 2007

This week has to be the shortest week in the history of Februarys.

I have resigned myself to the fact that I will not get everything done, and hope to God that no one will notice.

This week is frantically short because:

* Thomas arrives tomorrow.
* My company’s biennial conference is being held from Thursday to Saturday in Leura, with Tuesday being devoted to finalising all details with all members of the Conference Committee (to which I belong).
* Staffy has asked to drop by on Wednesday night.
* My mates Emily and Len have invited me and Thomas to see a play in Newtown on Wednesday night.
* My friends Lissy and David’s engagement party is on Saturday night.
* My work mate Michael is getting married to his beloved Lara on Sunday night.
* My late grandmother Ly Ly’s birthday is on Sunday.

The week has already started badly, with an unexpected 15-floor ascent via the fire stairs to my floor in my office building. According to my sources, there was a power failure / disruption over the weekend, rendering only 1 of the 6 lifts in working order. Tired of waiting for a lift along with at least 60 other colleagues, our Risk Manager and I took the lift to Level 12 and hiked up 15 flights of stairs (or 30 half flights) to Level 27. By the time I reached my desk, I couldn’t feel my knees, nor could I breathe, and I felt like I needed another 2 showers to rid myself of the lather of sweat that was pooling around my feet.

The rest of today was a blur, with Michael’s quiet panic becoming contagious. Michael is taking leave from COB on Thursday to get married and enjoy his honeymoon, and his quiet panic is starting to affect me. With my work load piling up, I became confused in what I needed to send out to whom (especially when I’m constantly interrupted in the middle of tasks) and wound up confusing the people I was sending emails to. As I was going to be out of the office all day tomorrow, I stayed at work until 9pm to get some moments of peace and made a concerted effort to clear my slate as much as possible.

Thomas is arriving at 9.30am tomorrow, and I am due in head office for a Conference Committee Meeting from 7.30am to finalise all details. It’s a day away from my work load that I can barely afford, but there is only one of me and I can only be at one place at a time.

As much as I have quietly moaned about the amount of work I have done for the Conference, I am very much looking forward to the event. This is my second company conference, and I well remember how much fun the last one was. And having been party to all the inside goss and seeing how this massive event is organised (over 200 company employees will be attending), here’s hoping the event will be well received by all.

Aside from organising a large part of the entertainment and the gifts in the welcome pack, I have also been tasked with the responsibility of acting as the Sergeant At Arms. The role is to keep an eye on the proceedings and call out anyone who has “misbehaved” or done something memorable for one reason or another, and collect “fines” and “penalties” for these deeds. All proceeds will be donated to the company’s charity Redkite. It should be a fun role, one that I am sharing with another colleague who is a barrel of laughs.

With the conference concluding on Saturday afternoon, I will barely have enough time to fly home from Leura to St Leonards in my little yellow Tom Cruze to collect Thomas for Lissy and David’s engagement party in Kurrajong. That’s already a lot of driving in one day, so I’m kind of glad I’m not drinking that night.

I’m hoping I’ll be able to sleep in a little on Sunday before preparing myself for Michael and Lara’s wedding. Luckily, the reception is being held at Luna Park, which is a very short distance from home. Sunday night wedding receptions are notoriously dangerous for Monday morning meetings – I am going to have to watch what I drink on Sunday night to ensure I am bright eyed and bushy tailed for Monday!

With everything that is going on, I am bound to let someone down, and the worst part is I will be letting my Dad down. Dad has very few things that he expects me and my sisters to observe, and Ly Ly’s birthday is one that is especially dear to him. Dad and his mother were very close, and every year on Ly Ly’s birthday, it is a family affair that is a must-show. Whilst Dad seemed to be understanding about the clashing commitments in my diary when I informed him last night, I know he is still disappointed in me.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were 2 or more of me for this week only? I need a holiday!

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Happy New Year of the Pig!

Gung Hay Fat Choy! 恭喜發財!

Today we welcome the Year of the Pig, the last animal in the Chinese zodiac.

The celebrations for my family started last night, as they always do on Chinese New Years Eve. It is our tradition that the family always eats together on Chinese NYE – we always overindulge on foods that we don’t normally eat during the year, and we always make plans to do it all over again the following night on Chinese New Year proper.

I can still remember the New Year celebrations from my childhood spent in Hong Kong. Mum would take us to the shops and buy new dresses for us before NYE. NYE dinners were usually held at Dai Guoo Mo’s house (Dad’s eldest sister – 大姑母). After dinner, Mum would make all of us take baths and showers, so that we would be fresh and clean in the morning. There is an old wives tale that one shouldn’t bathe nor shower on New Years Day, as it would wash away all of one’s luck and fortune for the coming year (in reverse, one should bathe and shower before bed on NYE, so as to wash away all the bad luck from the previous year and not take it into the new year). To this day, I still observe this tradition. I would always be the last one to fall asleep on NYE, so excited by the prospects of wearing my new dress, seeing all my uncles and aunties and cousins, and being able to eat anything and everything that is put in front of me.

Lin Chau Yut (New Years Day – 年初一) would dawn bright and early for us, and in our pyjamas, we would rush over to Dad and Mum and wish them a happy new year and good health and prosperity for the coming year. Dad and Mum would give us red envelopes with money (which we would then rush to put under our pillows for good luck) and wish us good health and good grades for the coming year. We would then get dressed to spend the day with Yeh Yeh (爺爺) and Ly Ly (奶奶).

Yeh Yeh and Ly Ly had a house in Kowloon, and the house would be filled with relatives from 8am to 10pm catching up with each other and relishing the opportunity to be all at one place together. We would all line up, in age order, to file past Yeh Yeh and Ly Ly to give them our best wishes, and they would give us red envelopes. You can just imagine how hard it was for me and my sisters, being the youngest 3, to come up with anything original after 60 adults have said their pieces!

There would be games of mahjong being played (Ly Ly loved her mahjong) – to this day, I still associate the sound of mahjong tiles clashing with Ly Ly and the happy bantering around the mahjong table. While the adults played mahjong and chatted, my sisters and I would spend the day wandering through the gardens at the house, looking at the gold fish in the pond with big waterlilies, teasing the Dobermans that were caged up in their kennels, running away shrieking with terror when the Dobermans barked viciously back at us. There would be food laid out throughout the day, and no one would stop you from stuffing your face and belly with all those deep fried goodies and sweet treats that were only eaten once a year at Chinese New Year. A roasted suckling pig would be the centrepiece for dinner, with its crispy crackling skin and tender meat and a plum dipping sauce, followed by more courses than you can imagine.

Lin Chau Yee (second day of Chinese New Year – 年初二) would always be spent with Gong Gong (公公) and Por Por (婆婆) (Mum’s father and mother), at Back Gong (伯公) and Back Por’s (伯婆) house (Gong Gong’s older brother and sister-in-law). They had a massive place in Happy Valley, and the celebrations would be held there on an annual basis. The house would be overrun with the extended families of Gong Gong and his 2 brothers, including a fleet of children playing rowdily at everyone’s feet. My cousins on Mum’s side of the family are all my age and younger, unlike my cousins on Dad’s side who are all at least 10 years older than me, so we always looked forward to being cheeky and naughty with the other kids on Lin Chau Yee. Back Por was famous for her buffets and we would feast on Po Kok Chicken (my favourite) and other goodies.

When my family and I moved to Australia in 1983, these gatherings were what I missed the most. I have not had the opportunity to experience these gatherings again, and I dare say I never will – my grandparents are all long gone and the rest of the extended families are now scattered all over the world. But I have those lovely memories and hope to start new traditions that my niece and nephews will fondly recall when they are older, as the magical time that is Chinese New Year.

NOT RECOMMENDED – Fantastic Furniture

For the second time this week, I was the victim of more mistreatment at the hands of yet another furniture company – this time, by Fantastic Furniture.

Fantastic Furniture is not known for quality nor customer service – they DO NOT live up to their name – DO NOT buy anything from this mob unless you want to buy cheap and nasty furniture from cheap and nasty sales staff.

I have had a terrible experience with Fantastic Furniture (FF) in the past – the first time I was given free reign to furnish an entire apartment, I purchased a package deal from FF, which included a queen-size bed, a tall boy, bedside drawers, lounge, coffee table, dining suite, bookcase, and a small TV stand. The tall boy was delivered damaged, and when I tried to get a new and undamaged tall boy to replace the damaged one, I was told that I must have damaged the furniture myself and that I was not entitled to an exchange. I steered clear of buying anything from FF for the next 10 years.

A couple of years ago, there were 2 items advertised by FF which suited my needs, and I decided to give them another chance. The portable wardrobe and the bookcase were exactly what I wanted and are still in full working order today. This made me think that FF must have had an overhaul of sorts in their management style, which led me to reconsider my stance.

Earlier this week, I purchased an entertainment unit from FF at Artarmon, and made arrangements for the unit to be delivered today. The salesperson, Shannon, was helpful and answered all of my questions about the unit – I wanted the unit to be fully assembled on delivery, and if there was any need for some self assembly, I would not buy it. Shannon assured me that the unit will arrive in one piece with very minor self assembly – I would have to put the handles on the drawers, but that was it. I paid for the unit, and paid for the delivery, and organised for the unit to be delivered today, being Saturday.

On Thursday afternoon, it dawned on me that I may not be home on Saturday morning – my mate at work, Michael had invited me to witness his call to the Torah, and the service was due to start at 9.15am. I called FF to try and arrange for an afternoon delivery, and Gerry the Scottish Git told me, in no uncertain terms, that there was no way FF would ever accommodate me (the customer) on a Saturday – FF was too busy on Saturdays to make any exceptions to the rule, so deal with it. I tried to reason with Gerry, but was cut off at every turn – “no, we can’t do that”, “no, we won’t do that”, “it’s not our problem you forgot you had something else to go to on Saturday”. As I paused to try and come up with another way of asking Gerry for assistance, I was thrown “I can’t be standing here waiting for you to make up your mind – I’m busy here, so what do you do want to do?”

At which point I hung up.

Fuming from that encounter, I called FF back 15 minutes later to try another salesperson and to lodge a complaint about Gerry. Sandy answered the phone, and when I explained my situation, Sandy said she would try her best to help me – she did again tell me that there was no way of guaranteeing an afternoon delivery, but she would try her best to organise something and promised to call me back on Friday afternoon at 4pm to give me some news. I also made a complaint against Gerry and horrified by the way I was spoken to, Sandy promised to pass on my feedback to her manager.

Yesterday afternoon at 4.30pm, when I hadn’t received the phone call from Sandy, I called FF to follow up my delivery situation. Shannon answered the phone, and when I asked for Sandy, he told me that Sandy no longer worked at the Artarmon store and will never be back at the Artarmon store. Shannon went on to tell me that no one had expected Sandy to walk out, and apologised for anything that Sandy may have promised me. Sighing, I asked Shannon to try and arrange for an afternoon delivery for me. Again, Shannon went through the whole spiel of not being able to guarantee anything – my furniture will be delivered any time between 9am and 5pm, and after 20 minutes of working through every angle possible, I resigned myself to miss Michael’s service and wait at home for the delivery.

The entertainment unit finally arrived at 2.30pm. The young man who delivered the unit was cheerful, and put the furniture exactly where I wanted it. As he was leaving, I was asked to sign for the unit, and on the delivery form, in black and white, were the words “not home till after 12”.

Even as I write this, nearly 10 hours later, I can only shake my head at the mistreatment I have suffered at the hands of yet another furniture company. It seems Shannon was able to organise an afternoon delivery after all. But with no phone call in the morning to inform me, I was left to sit at home with the metaphorical gun held to my head waiting for my furniture to arrive and missing out on a huge part of Michael’s journey to his wedding.

Never again will I ever shop at Fantastic Furniture, and I strongly urge you to take my experience into consideration if you are thinking about buying anything from Fantastic Furniture.

Sam & the City – SMH Blog: 14/02/2007

On Valentine’s Day, Samantha Brett from SMH’s Sam and the City posted the following blog:

Why some women are always attracted to jerks

“He wasn’t as bad as everyone thought,” sneered Kylie Minogue after she dated the late Michael Hutchence, notorious for being the bad boy of Australian rock. “And I wasn’t as good,” she continued, “we met somewhere in between.”

What do Kylie Minogue and blogger Julie have in common? Both are bottle-blonde, both are pint-sized and both are addicted to dating the jerk.

“It’s the thrill of the chase for me,” laments Julie when I ask her why she’s dating yet another bloke who is clearly more interested in spending time with his Xbox and flirting with bar chicks than spending the night on the couch with her.

Yet, despite the pitfalls, she’s completely head over heels in lust with the spiky-haired hunk. “He’ll change,” she says uncertainly. I think not …

No one sets out deliberately to date a jerk. When a woman pictures herself with the man of her dreams, she’s living happily ever after behind a white picket fence, not waiting past midnight while her womanising, heartbreaking, cheating, wheeling cad prefers porn surfing and internet flirting to romantic nights out and home cooked meals for two.

Yet some women just can’t seem to escape their wrath. Hence they date one bad boy after another; getting used, abused and discarded like yesterday’s news.

It seems ever since 50’s icon James Dean roughed it up as the quintessential bad boy, women have been falling head over heels for the jerks.

Kylie Minogue is one such gal.

Along with the big bubble-perm, cut-off jeans and nice guy Jason Donovan, she ditched the pleasant gents and her Miss Goody Two Shoes image for the naughty, sex kitten sort of femme, who dates only men who don’t call back when they say they will and act like they’re just not that into her.

Thus she slept with Hutchence, sang with Robbie Williams, went on a date with French heartthrob (and supposed jerk) Olivier Martinez, and ended up wasting four years of her life wondering if Martinez was sleeping around and why he wasn’t home by 2am.

So why do so many women find themselves falling for the jerk again and again? Don’t they learn their lesson after the first time around?

It continues to baffle me that so many successful, gorgeous women shun the nice boys for a taste of the jerk. I wonder if it’s about self esteem; of settling with the jerk because they feel they’re not worth anything more. Or is it because they’re hoping that they can eventually change a jerk into the nice guy they always thought they’d end up with?

“I fall hard for people who don’t want me,” writes blogger Melissakp. “And the only people who fall hard for me are ones I don’t care quite *enough* about. It’s a vicious cycle which may well continue my whole life. I’m just hopeful that one day I’ll have a big love that’s a two way street.”

True, dating a jerk might be better than sitting at home with your lengthy checklist and tub of Sarah Lee. True, it makes you feel special – like you’re the lucky one who managed to snag the “unavailable”, uninterested bloke. True, it adds a little crumb of fun and excitement to a humdrum dating existence.

But is it really worth it? Why is it that so many women fall for Mr Wrong? Again?

Well, judging by the number of sob stories I hear from women across the country as to why they continually fall for the jerk, you’d think that there weren’t any decent guys out there for us to grab onto.

“Not true!” retort the throngs of nice guys who email me daily with their inability to meet decent women. “They’re just looking in all the wrong places.”

Why are women attracted to jerks?

My response below:

Sam, you are right about not setting out to date jerks, yet it seems to be my destiny to be dating all the jerks in Sydney.

I’ve been engaged to a jerk who couldn’t keep it in his pants, engaged to another jerk who sucked 6 years of my life down the gurgler, and dated yet another jerk who promised me the world and delivered me a shell. There are more jerk stories in between, and I’m beginning to wonder if I have a “Jerk Beacon” on my head – the flashing light that screams “Hey, you, Mr Jerk, come hither!”

The latest jerk spent the better part of a month chasing me – emailing flirty little messages at work, sending saucy SMSs, etc. After our first date (and subsequent kiss), he decided that he didn’t really want to date me after all. He waited 2 weeks to contact me, and then, by email, he told me that I wasn’t really what he was looking for.

My whinge is – all the nice guys I meet are either taken or gay. Where are the nice single guys who have had the jerk kicked out of them? It’s time to turn off the Jerk Beacon – help me out here, nice guys! 🙂

After posting my comment, I went to sleep (it was well and truly after midnight on a school night by this point).

A few funny things happened yesterday – the first of which was Emily asking me if I’d been replying to Sam’s blog. SPRUNG! Yes, ’twas me; big smilie face.

The second funny thing was reading the responses my comment elicited (see below) and how I would have responded to them:

No Gloria, there is no “jerk beacon” on your head.
The jerks are not looking for you.
You, and all the other women it seems, are always out looking for the jerks.
Why women are so collectively stoopid in this respect I don’t know. I suspect some kind of conspiracy by the gay media folks to encourage straight women to chase after jerks, as some kind of entertainment ( for them ).
Posted by: mich at February 15, 2007 1:21 AM

Mich, surely the gay media folk have better things to do with their time?

If you have a “Jerk Beacon”, why aren’t I responding? 😉
Posted by: Matvei Groznyy at February 15, 2007 2:17 AM

Matvei Groznyy, looking forward to receiving an flirty email or a saucy SMS from you soon! ;-p

Your story is sad but familar…and as you asked for some advice I’ll offer you a snippit.
If the thrill of the chase is the trade mark of the womanizing jerk… perhaps you enable them by being so predictably seduced by these party tricks.. I dare to even think you see this kind of attention as devotion..
Perhaps the “nice guys” – are less into the chase and more into the woman. These guys may have less tolerance or passion for the chase and don’t abide jumping through and over unneccesary hoops that some women seem to enjoy testing them with… Leaving them unintrested in the game and you unattached and available for another game player.
Posted by: sean at February 15, 2007 8:50 AM

Sean, I don’t play games – they are a waste of time, and my time is precious to me. The trick of jumping over and through hoops is best left to trained animals, and whilst I have never stipulated the ability to perform this trick as a criterion in a potential suitor, more often than not I’ve been asked to perform the trick myself. Double standards? Go figure!

“Where are the nice single guys who have had the jerk kicked out of them”
Ever thought that they are with nice girls? Girls that use a little bit more than “is he hot” as their yard stick for chosing a guy to pick up in the club?
Face it – nice guys aren’t going to sit around and wait for you to have your fun with their better looking mates till
you are ready to settle down.
Posted by: Broken at February 15, 2007 9:08 AM

Poor Broken. Were you always the last kid to be picked for teams at school? The “is he hot” yardstick is so last century – one I haven’t used since I was 16. And are you implying I’m not a nice girl? Last time I checked, I am a kind and caring person who is generous and considerate, almost to a fault! By the way, sorry about passing you over for your hot mates – they weren’t as bitter as you.

“Where are the nice single guys who have had the jerk kicked out of them? ”
You just seem to want a compliant puppy. . Why would you want a relationship with anyone or had been kicked into servitude ?
One guy had the temarity to say you weren’t what he was looking for and got called a jerk . . I didn’t think there was any law against not entering a relationship yet . . . .You can’t force men to go out with you !!
Posted by: halberstram at February 15, 2007 9:13 AM

Halberstram, I don’t want a compliant puppy. There is no sadder a sight than to see a rubber-backed man cower behind the skirt tails of his partner / wife. I would much rather a man who has a spine and who can hold his own, in any situation. As for the jerk who changed his mind, you’re right, there’s no law against him changing his mind, but it was the way he ended things that gave him the jerk title – a phone call would have been much better. PS – if you want to use big words, learn how to spell them first.

No, it’s not that you have a ‘Jerk Beacon’ but that jerks tend to be the guys more likely to come up to you and speak with you, as they have nothing to lose…but the nice guys tend to hold back (and lose out) and watch the jerk in action… it’s hard to find a good man, but with patience, it’s worth the wait!
I’ve never dated a jerk, but always have them approach me in public places, pubs, etc…. and I always think the same…why me?!?! what makes you think I would even talk to you? 😛 But I do politely tell them ‘thanks, but no thanks!’ as I’m sure, they get it all the time… rejection.
Women just have to learn to accept their decisions…if you are going out with a guy who’s a heartbreaker, he’s definitely going to break your heartn – sooner or later!
Posted by: Desiree at February 15, 2007 10:09 AM

Desiree, life is too short to hold back and watch others in action. Please tell all of your nice guy friends. 🙂

Yeh ok, but what about girls?
I date nice girls who tend to end up releasing all their insecurities and then go overseas to “find themselves” happened 2 time in the last few years.
I am patient with them, look after them when they cry, cook for them ,clean for them and iron their blouses so they are fresh for the morning and still l get treated like I am second rate.
The moment I don’t pay attention I am “being insensitive”
So I basically gave up.
Being honest and guenuine doesn’t seem to work for me.
But I wont drop my standards or my boundaries just to get a girl.
Women can be jerks to as much as men can be I think and I have experienced them.
Anyway what do I know I just flew in from O/S and am over tired and prolly not making sense lol
Posted by: TAFKAL at February 15, 2007 11:11 AM

TAFKAL, I stand corrected – YOU are the compliant puppy I’ve been looking for. Please feel free to cook and clean and iron my clothes for me, wifey!

The jerk sent you saucy sms’s?? Gross!! I would have told him where to go in an instant if I were you – and mind you, I also attract many jerks! You just have to raise your standards, stick to them, because it’s okay to be picky… If you’re not, you’ll end up wasting your precious time on idiots and jerks who have no real intentions or motivation to get to know you better.
Posted by: Gloria-Star at February 15, 2007 12:31 PM

Gloria-Star, you should have seen the SMSs I received last weekend, 2 weeks after the rejection email … classic!

Funny stuff indeed.

NOT RECOMMENDED – John Cootes Furniture Warehouse

The title says it all.

If you are in the market for some new furniture, DO NOT buy your furniture from John Cootes Furniture.

My experience has been nothing but hell, but if you are up to a challenge that will eat up the better part of at least 2 days of your life, please, go ahead and try your luck.

As a young struggling professional who does not have a lot of time nor money to fritter away on dealing with furniture purchase, I had hoped my experience would be painless, or relatively so. I was proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, WRONG.

I have seen the ads on TV and in the newspapers. John Cootes Furniture Warehouses pride themselves in “in having the best value for money and the most competitive furniture prices in Sydney”. What they don’t tell you, in any of their ads nor on the website, is how much pain and suffering you will go through from the moment you start dealing with them, to the moment they leave the furniture that you have forked over your hard earned money for.

It all started with a phone call to John Cootes Furniture (JCF) at Merrylands on Saturday. I was interested in purchasing a 3-seater chaise lounge and a sofa bed, and true to their word, they had the most competitive prices in Sydney. My call was to inquire whether they had the models I wanted in stock, and what kind of delivery timeframe I would be looking at. I might add, at this point in time, I had already spent an hour checking their range on the internet and locating what I was keen on (and the associated prices) before placing my call to the store. Emma was the first person I spoke to, and she was extremely helpful in speaking with various departments to ensure that the models I was after were available to be delivered today (being one of only 2 days they delivered to my area). I was reassured that if I was to pay a 10% deposit on the spot over the phone using my credit card, and the balance within the next few days, I would be able to have what I wanted delivered when I wanted. Nothing else (as in no extra costs, extra options, etc) was mentioned in this phone call.

I took myself to their Merrylands store on Sunday, where I was greeted by 3 staff members where were more interested in gossiping about their private lives than helping a lost customer. I eventually had to stop someone with a name badge to get some assistance in locating the lounges for which I had paid a hefty deposit. He showed me to the lounges, and some time during my line of questions (about 2 minutes after he started his poor attempt in customer service), he wandered off, having lost interest in making a sale. Left to my own devices, I sat on the lounges and tested the comfort factors on my own. Happy with my choices, I made my way to the Information Desk to sort out payment for the balance. Emma, the girl I spoke to on Saturday, had mentioned that I should attend the Information Desk to pay the balance of my purchase, and assured me that there would be an invoice of sorts waiting for me. None was to be found.

Once at the desk, I was seen to by another salesperson, who blamed everyone but God and the Queen when she could not locate my paperwork. After some debate, I managed to sort out payment details and paid for my 2 new lounges. As an after-thought, I went back to the 3-seater chaise lounge to re-test the comfort factor, when I noticed a sign on the display lounge. The sign read something along the lines of: “This lounge is longer than usual lounges and will not fit into normal sized lifts or through normal sized doorways. To be sure you get what you want, pay $100 and we will dismantle the lounge at the warehouse for delivery, and reassemble the whole thing for you once delivered. If you forego this option, and it does not fit in the lift or through your doorway, it will cost you an extra $150 to send it away for dismantling, making it an extra $250 you have to fork out to get this particular lounge delivered to your place, plus another lot of delivery costs. Your choice.” I also noticed the SuperShield treatment that is recommended to elongate the life of my lounge. Disappointed that no one, at any point in time, mentioned these little facts to me, I went back to the Information Desk to have this sorted out, which resulted in yet another transaction on my credit card.

When I first spoke to Emma, I had mentioned that I live in a building with strict rules about the lift usage with regards to furniture removal. I had mentioned to Emma that I would need to book a lift for the delivery men’s exclusive use at least 24 hours prior to their arrival, and Emma had promised that she would sort out something for me. After paying for everything in 3 separate payments, I again raised the point of needing a more definitive delivery timeframe for today. The ladies I spoke to (2 different people – none of whom had served me earlier) were most unhelpful, until I almost talked myself hoarse to reassure them that Emma had spoken to Nermin from Dispatch about my situation. Sure enough, one phone call resulted in confirming this, with more reassurances that someone will notify me of a better timeframe on Wednesday afternoon.

Negative on that point as well.

No one contacted me yesterday (Wednesday) with a timeframe. I called just after 5pm, to be told that Nermin had gone home for the day and I was to have to “just wait and see” when the delivery will arrive today. So much for customer service. Another 30 minutes was spent arguing with the salesperson on the phone before I was finally given a rough estimate of “some time between 9am and 11am”. With at least that timeframe to work with, I informed my building concierge and booked the lift.

I woke this morning to a phone call at 6.45am from the delivery driver, advising me that they would be arriving between 8am and 10am. Fortunately, the driver was most understanding when I explained why he needed to arrive after 9am. Ian and his apprentice were terrific – quick and helpful and went above and beyond to carefully move my existing furniture to my storage area and deliver my brand new furniture – sofa bed in a box, and the chaise lounge in 7 pieces. I was so excited to see all the pieces delivered that I was almost able to erase all the pain I’d gone through with JCF to this point. Until I was handed the dispatch notice to sign for my delivery, with my chaise lounge still in 7 pieces.

Disbelievingly, I asked if Ian was going to put the lounge together for me – after all, it was a fair question to ask, as I’d paid for the lounge to reassembled when it arrived. Ian promptly told me that “it was not in his job description” to put the lounge together – he was “just a subbie who delivers the stuff” and does not have the correct tools to put the lounge together. Thoughts running through my head included “I beg your pardon” and “What the f*ck??”, the former I voiced in a trembling voice. Ian asked me to call JCF at Merrylands to sort it out, as it really wasn’t his problem.

Refusing to sign for the delivery (as it wasn’t what I had paid for), I called the store and spoke to Tamara, who claimed to be the store manager. Already upset with what I’d received, I was getting nowhere with Tamara, who was unable to provide any immediate satisfactory solutions to me. All I wanted was my lounge to be put together, but it seemed the assembly man was a different man to the delivery man, and the assembly man was unavailable. Again, no one, at any time mentioned this to me prior to today. I was beyond ropeable at this point, and proceeded to raise my voice with Tamara. Dear readers, you will be pleased to know that no swear words crossed my lips in dealing with these idiots. But the louder I got, the louder Tamara got, until I had not choice but to hang up on her for fear of saying something I would regret.

After a few deep breaths, I called her back, and she was able to locate an assembly man for me. The only problem was he was unable to reach me before lunch time (when I was due back at work). To avoid any further inconvenience to me, Tamara made arrangements for the assembly man to come to my place after 8pm tonight, when I could guarantee I would be home. I was eventually given the assembly man’s details (Gil’s mobile number) and assured he was a lovely and helpful man who would meet me at my place at the agreed time.

I spoke to Gil after I arrived at work, and put all arrangements in place. I then tried to forget all the problems I’d encountered earlier in the day and got on with my work. By mid-afternoon, I was beginning to be excited again by the prospect of having a new lounge to sit on.

At 4.45pm, I noticed I had a missed call on my mobile from Gil. I called him back to see what he was wishing to discuss, and wound up in an almost screaming match with him. Gil wanted to come by my place earlier than agreed to reassemble my lounge, at around 5pm. I was adamant I would not be home before 8pm, as I had a meeting in the city at 6pm. Gil then told me that he had another job to go to in Blacktown and he would have to put me off until tomorrow morning, to which I objected. I did not want to spend another minute of another brand new day waiting for someone to come and assemble the lounge I’d paid for but did not receive in the state I had envisioned. I told Gil it was not my problem he had something else lined up – the agreement was he was to meet me at my place at 8pm to do his job, a job that was arranged and agreed to by all parties prior to this phone call. Gil then told me that he was well within his rights to refuse my job, that he was a subbie to JCF, that he didn’t work for JCF nor would he care to work for JCF, and that I was not his problem. In no uncertain terms, I told him I was through talking to him and that someone at JCF will be in touch.

I was again forced to call JCF to speak to yet another person claiming to be a store manager. In my most deliberately calm voice, I recalled my entire nightmare to Alice, who, to her credit, allowed me the time to relay a large piece of my mind. Again, to her credit, Alice sounded genuinely horrified at the ordeal that has been my life since Sunday, and assured me that it was not in JCF’s practice to treat their customers the way I had been treated. Alice sounded genuinely sympathetic to my cause, and assured me that she would be able to sort something out for me and would contact me once everything is in place. The sceptic in me replied that thus far, no one at JCF had come through with their reassurances, and Alice snickered before ringing off to sort things out. Not a good sign.

15 minutes later, and for the first time today, I was proven wrong. Alice called me back to confirm arrangements with Gil, who would meet me at my apartment building at 8pm. Sure enough, at 8pm, Gil was waiting in the foyer of my building, with his tool box in tow, ready to reassemble my lounge.

If you have managed to read through to this point, you will have some idea as to the pain I’ve gone through in the last few days, and shared in the agony of being treated like used toilet paper stuck to the heel of a drunkard’s shoe. My one and only piece of advice to you is this: do not, ever, buy furniture from John Cootes Furniture. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

The Deconstruction of My Apartment

How much clutter can a glutton gather if a glutton was gathering clutter?

(Apologies to the person who wrote “How Much Wood Would A Woodchuck Chuck”.)

So, really, how much clutter can a glutton gather? With only 6 more sleeps before Thomas arrives, I am now the proud owner of one CLEAN apartment. My weekend of excavation yielded some interesting stats:

6 – Paper Recycling Wheelie Bins
2 – Glass Recycling Wheelie Bins
8 – General Garbage Wheelie Bins
2 – Garbage Bags of clothes to be donated
1 – Garbage Bag of shoes
2 – Vacuum Cleaner Bags

Yes folks, that’s what I threw out. And there is still capacity to condense my stuff some more.

After 6 years of living in my apartment, it was finally time to make it a home instead of treating it like a transitional residence. When I first moved into my apartment, I had plans and visions of travelling and working overseas soon afterwards, and reasoned that if I unpacked everything, I would have to repack when I left. I reasoned that it would be easier to just leave most of my stuff in boxes, and after a while, I even forgot what was in the boxes. Those travel plans have been postponed time and time again, and so too did the plans to unpack. Soon enough, I was accumulating more stuff and found myself running out of room to house my belongings.

Everything I owned started piling up – mountains of stuff – old uni text books and readers I couldn’t bear to part with which cost so much at the time of purchase, equipment and knick knacks I acquired through my time as the President of the Macquarie University Soccer Club, papers and documents I retained from various jobs, newspaper clippings I found interesting at the time, magazines I kept for the puzzles and recipes. The list of useless things was endless, as I discovered when Cyclone Gee went through the apartment and tossed anything that wasn’t remotely current or relevant to my life as it is now.

I have always joked that my apartment was decorated in the latest “touch of Baghdad (or some other war torn region)” look, and I lived in it and I put up with it. I live on my own and I found my mess strangely comforting. I have only ever invited a very small number of friends into my apartment, and each have good naturedly commented on my décor whilst trying not to breathe in the dust. I’ve always laughed it off, but even my own eyes couldn’t deceive me when I walked through my front door on Saturday afternoon after lunching with Emily and Sarah, to be greeted by the filth and putrid state of my apartment. I had been living in squalor conditions, created by my own hands, for far too long, and even if Thomas had not been arriving next week, I needed to clean – badly.

So began the hard work of tossing everything. I surprised myself with the amount of stuff I threw out – by the 3rd paper recycling wheelie bin, I began to wonder how many more bins I could fill. Answer is above – and I was disgusted by the amount of crap I had hoarded over the years.

I could have taken some “before” and “after” shots to show you how it was then and how it is now, but I have to admit I was ashamed by the mess. At least I didn’t end up like the woman in Bondi.

With newly purchased furniture arriving tomorrow, I’ll finally be able to openly invite friends over for a drink or to hang out. And I’ll finally have a place that I can proudly call home.

Blast From The Past – Part 3 – Staffy

After 6 long months of non-communication, umpteen nights of worrying and 2 recent sightings, I was treated to a blast from the past over the weekend.

Staffy buzzed my front door at around 6.30pm on Saturday night, and in a bright and cheerful voice, asked if I’d like to pop down for a drink with him. To say the least, I was initially too stunned to speak – yes, folks, I was rendered speechless by the sound of Staffy’s voice.

I’ve blogged about Staffy before. What I didn’t say in either of those blogs was how addicted I am to Staffy. There have been a number of people in my life who I’ve found hard to say no to, but eventually, I have learnt to say no to them. Not Staffy. He is the one and only person I know to whom I’ve never said no.

I don’t know what it is about Staffy that keeps me hanging on by a tenuous thread. Time and time again, he stands me up and lets me down. Time and time again, he seeks my help and confidence, promises to quit the drugs and the dealing, only to break his promises and go back to his old ways. Time and time again, I try to walk away and cut him loose after he breaks my heart.

Yet, time and time again, when he contacts me, I let him back into my life.

When he buzzed my door on Saturday night, I was already running late for a dinner date with my family. I told him I was not able to catch up until later on Saturday night at the Crowie, where he then agreed to meet me after my dinner plans, but as luck would have it, neither of us made it up there.

Yesterday, after a very successful day of decluttering my apartment, my intercom again treated me to Staffy’s voice. I must admit the Staffy who stepped out of the lift looked healthy and calm, not like the bloated and jittery Staffy I remembered from July last year (when I last caught up with him), nor the slightly agitated Staffy at the most recent sighting in December.

We wandered down to the local for a few beers and some dinner, and caught up on everything since July. Things are looking up for Staffy. He is now 90% clean – he’s off the shabs and the smack and has been for nearly 7 months. He’s still smoking a bit of dope, but a lot less than he has done in the past. He’s stopped dealing and has repaid all of his debts. He had been seeing someone until a fortnight ago, and he attributed his efforts to get clean to her. He has a new job which he hates, but it’s a job to tie him over until he finds a better job. And he is about to move into his own place in North Sydney with the help of his dad.

As we continued to talk, more things emerged. Staffy apologised for the lack of contact since mid last year, and tried to explain why he couldn’t and didn’t want to involve me in his efforts to get clean. He didn’t think it was fair to involve me in that process when I had never been involved in the drugs side of his life. He acknowledged that he was quite depressed late last year and even attempted suicide, twice. He felt that until he was clean, it wouldn’t be fair to contact me again.

Having finally cut all ties with his so-called friends from his dubious past (which included a ceremonial burial of his old mobile phone and all the contact details on the SIM card), Staffy is now trying to get in touch with some of the people he felt he could trust who have not been involved with drugs. I was the only name he could come up with, and he asked me for help.

Staffy couldn’t remember my mobile number, but through the fog that is his brain, he remembered where I lived – the exact apartment number, no less. Hence the buzzing of my front door.

Not knowing how I could help, Staffy went on to say that he needed to hang around clean and sober people. In the rare periods when Staffy had been relatively clean and sober, we had enjoyed hanging out together, watching DVDs and chatting about life. Staffy knows that what he needs right now is to resist all urges and temptations, and the best way is to stay at home and be around people who are not part of the scene he has tried so hard to get away from. As the only clean and sober friend he can call on, he asked if I would be able to be his "support person", someone to talk to, someone to hang with, someone to be there for him.

I agreed.

Stupid thing is: I already know he’s going to break my heart, again. But when your friend asks you for help, especially the friend that you’ve never been able to say no to, you say yes.

Don’t let me down, kiddo. Please don’t let me down.