Because it’s Thursday…

…and I’m posting quite a few blogs, I figured I’d add this to the mix as I stare at the Darth Pig plushy from Angry Birds Star Wars edition that Fernando bought me and handed me a few days ago when he came to the house. (Also because he pointed out the last two blogs I posted were entirely bitter, and I realize I’m not entirely bitter, just moderately so.)

Doesn’t he just scream, “Rae, I am your Piggie”?

He makes me smile because he’s pretty much adorable, and if you haven’t played Angry Birds Star Wars, you should. Yes, that was a shameless plug, and no, I am not paid by the company to say that. They have enough revenue for their products that they don’t need to pay me to say that (unfortunately).

So today I came home from work and found a lovely box by the creators of one of my favorite websites. Inside were some of my favorite things. Clothes!

Yes, I am girly, and no, I will not apologize for it. 🙂

So I ordered, yet again, from ModCloth and have received an adorable polka-dotted skirt I’m determined to pair with a white three-quarter length scoop-necked white top and red peep toed pumps for work when it gets warm enough. The skirt comes to my knees, which is an entirely appropriate length for work. And, of course, it’s precious and adorable.

If only I could tie the bow that way…

I also bought a navy blouse that I’m currently wearing with jeans. It’s not a complete button down, and the sleeves will roll up and button to three-quarter length. It’ll look great with jeans or leggings depending on the look I’m going for because the blouse is so long. The only downside is the sleeve length. Even though I ordered the size that suited me and the blouse is otherwise almost too large, the sleeves aren’t quite long enough to be “long sleeved,” so I suppose I’ll have to wear them as three-quarter length and make it a summery shirt.

The material is light enough that would probably work best anyway.

Wouldn’t it be cute with a belt around the middle to shape it a bit?

And finally, my favorite items purchased this time around were the shoes I bought. They’re adorable and will look great with that navy shirt… if I can find enough yellow accents to go with them. Pair it with jeans and the shirt and the shoes, and voila! Instant comfort meets cute.

Why yellow?

You’ll see.

I never wear yellow, but I couldn’t resist the cheerful vibes…

If it doesn’t rain tomorrow, I’m very tempted to wear them to work. I’ve got just the shirt to wear with those and jeans. Since it’s casual Friday, they’ll fit in very well and be a bright spot on a 4-hour work day (soon to be 8-hours but not too soon).

In any event, tomorrow IS Friday, and I’m most definitely looking forward to finishing my week off without too much of a hitch. Maybe my cheerful yellow flats will give me good vibes and allow me to end my work week with style.

And that’s all you get tonight… three posts and a tired RaeNez who is now on her way to bed.

RaeNez

 

 

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Coming Soon! The e-Book Edition…

…or not.

I thought about it the other day, and I have the desire to write a book about some of the crazy people I speak to on the phones. I wouldn’t have to even explain what exactly I called them about. I would simply have to say it was in regards to loans and that I worked in a call center.

I’ve got a great title to my book. Are you ready?

On the Phones: Why I Probably Wouldn’t Want to be Friends with You

Personally I think it’ll be a best seller.

Can you imagine all the ways I can make this work? I can. And if you’re reading this feeling affronted because the title just insulted you, don’t be.

You’re either the person I’m writing about, and I wouldn’t want to be friends with you, or you aren’t a rude person who makes ridiculous comments when a poor call center rep calls you. (Alternately you aren’t rude to the call center rep when you call in for assistance.)

Because that’s where my book would go.

I’d glaze over all the absurd responses I get to the eternal question: “May I speak to so-and-so?”

We’d go through the jerk-offs who reply, “What do you want?” instead of replying in any normal fashion to every question I ask. That was a fun call that I had yesterday, actually. A man continually replied “What do you want?” when I asked to speak to him and would not tell me if I had the correct person or anything else.

Now I understand being annoyed by 1-800 numbers because I get that, too, but when you know for a fact who the company is, what they’re calling about, and that you have a plan of action, you don’t have to be a moronic broken record to me.

To people like him, I’d like to say, “If I ever saw you in person, I’d happily knee you in the balls and watch you cry.”

Then there are the ridiculously high number of people who I speak to that tell me, “You people screwed up my account!” Or any number of variants on that theme. It always begins with “you people” and ends with an accusation, typically false, that leads me to want to ask if the person is really that ignorant in real life.

First of all, if you addressed me as “you people” in person, I’d laugh in your face. I am not a people. I am a person. Second of all, I am not a business. I am an employee, who really has nothing to do with your account aside from the unfortunate fact I had the luck of the draw to speak to you today. Third, “you people” really does not compel me to be on your side, see things your way, or feel it necessary to empathize with your situation.

It generally just makes me think you are an idiot.

Also, it sets my teeth on edge. Call us Call Center Xtroardinaire, call me rep or Rae or miss or ma’am. Not “you people.” See the above for all the reasons this is wrong. Not to mention it’s just plain rude, and you wouldn’t speak that way to someone in person, so please do me the courtesy of pretending I am, in fact, a person.

For those of you who ritually speak to reps in this manner, please be advised most of us would like to rip your tongues out for calling us “you people” on the phones. Also, if you set a pack of wild reps on people like your fine selves, I’m fairly certain the wild reps would succeed in ripping out your tongues.

And then we wouldn’t be “you people.”

(As I digress, I realize I may have a minor bit of pent up aggression held back today.)

Finally, I really must say I quite enjoy when I call a wrong number and people feel the need to harp on me about how angry they are that we keep calling for someone who isn’t at that number. “You people keep calling for her, and I keep telling you she don’t have this number no more! Don’t you understand that? Take my number off your list! You keep calling and calling and calling, you called three times yesterday, you never take my number off, and she ain’t got this number…”

Aside from the general lack of proper grammar and a grasp of the English language, the people who yell at me about insipid things like having a wrong number simply don’t seem to recognize one basic fact about call centers: If I have a wrong number for someone who is behind on an account, you can be damn sure someone else has the same number and is calling you.

Now, most of the time I try to head off the mundane commenting of people in these situations because it’s useless and gets me nowhere, but can I tell you honestly that people who do this annoy me to no end?

I want to slap them upside of the head and tell them I wouldn’t have called someone so hateful if I could have avoided it, but unfortunately it’s my job. Now be a polite human and bugger off while I remove your number so some other poor rep never has to hear your hideous voice.

As you can see, I could easily write quite a book about the people I speak to on the phones, and please remember: this includes you, too, if you’ve ever spoken to a customer service representative in any hateful or rude manner.

I hope you can see my point. It isn’t so much that I wouldn’t be friends with people based on how they treat call center reps. It’s more humorous than anything, but I would hope it would make people sit up and take notice that even a lowly rep on the phone is more human than just an annoying voice that cuts into part of your day.

And that, my friends, is your public service announcement for the day!

– RaeNez

Interviewing with HR

February 13th was kind of a big day for me. I wasn’t going to say exactly, but it was actually my year mark at work, and I was sent my annual review that apparently goes out to everyone on the date they hired in. So goes a year of my life… drowned out on the phones in commentary I can’t be moved to care much more about than I do about the people who tell me how much I should stop by their kiosks at the mall to “try a little something” because they want to jack up prices on some product I shouldn’t purchase and wouldn’t use.

Clearly I shouldn’t have hired in prior to Valentine’s Day, but so goes it…

That said, it’s been a real trip the last few days this week. Monday I responded to the human resources questionnaire I was sent as part of my “thanks for staying” email from our VP of HR. Being the honest and blunt sort, my answers to questions weren’t exactly expected, and I was promptly emailed back by the VP requesting a meeting with me.

I will say that by blunt I don’t mean I was aggressive. Nor was I rude. I simply answered honestly and without sugar-coating any of my feelings on things the way some people would possibly have done. When asked, for example, how engaged I felt with the company, I stated “not very,” and proceeded to explain why and how they could change that for me in my department.

I know it’s the place of human resources departments to take care of employees. We are their customers, so to speak, and so said my VP when I met with her Tuesday. She tried to reassure me that she sees the people on the phones as the life blood of the company, but the truth is that when all is said and done, we are still just the employees.

As I told her earnestly, the trickle down affect of our COO’s patronizing and demanding ways moves through the ranks from our Assistant Vice President to our Manager to our Supervisors and Assistant Supervisors. It doesn’t stop with them. They demand the performance that is causing so much stress and dissatisfaction with the job.

I know she understands because she’s putting together a plan of action for the department, and that’s great. She asked me to bear with the department as they implement the new changes she wants, and she’s determined that we won’t feel as downtrodden as I described myself in the questionnaire responses I sent her.

I’m not sure if this has any connection to my meeting with her or if I was chosen in a random sampling that they’re doing, but I received an email from another of our HR gurus today asking me to meet with him to discuss the employee morale and engagement of our department. He’s asked me to fill out a second survey, which is scarily more personal.

In fact, it requests I rate my loyalty to the company on a scale of “extremely” to “not at all.”

While I don’t recall seeing a place to put my name on the form, I have to question just how honest I should be in this form.

I can understand why our HR department is taking such an interest in the call center employees’ morale and engagement. I just highly doubt they’ll be able to offer any form of improvement over what we have thus far developed as the main form of management and supervisory skills.

I’m still debating on how honest to be in that survey…

At least I have until Monday before I have to make any hard and fast decisions. My meeting with the HR guru is then. We’ll see how it goes, but at the very least, I have the reassurance from my VP of HR that I’m not on the chopping block that she keeps track of in terms of potentially losing my job. So that is a relief.

– RaeNez

Scheduling Blues & Valentine’s Recap

Well, I’ve been away several days, and it’s been an exciting and busy few days to say the least. I’ll start by saying that on Friday (yes, I’m bypassing Valentine’s for a moment) we had a meeting at work. That’s always a danger. It was even more of a danger because it was with our outbound collections team only instead of the entire call center team.

The meeting began with the management team informing us we’re going to a new schedule. Now while it isn’t pleasant for me, I wasn’t as upset by the changes as some people were. It’s not like I can complain anyway. They do what they want, and I simply do as I’m told, right? Right.

Our current schedule is a Monday-Thursday 9-hour shift and Friday 4-hour shift. You can see why some people were upset. They cherish their 4-hour Fridays. As do I. It’s one of the few days I’m really able to see Fernando, after all, since his crazy schedule as fast food assistant manager keeps him busy on 10-hour shifts five days a week, he ends up taking off Fridays and Saturdays to see me. So we get my half-day Fridays and all day Saturdays and most of Sundays.

If we’re lucky, we’ll see each other at various times during the week. But that hasn’t happened often lately due to our schedules.

Now my schedule will be changing starting in a few short weeks. It’s going from the above to a straight 8-hour Monday-Friday shift. They determined this was the best option to get the most call outs done and get things taken care of in the timeliest manner.

I have no quibbles with leaving an hour earlier. I’m not too chuffed at losing my half-day. I’m just rather tired with all the changes. It’s every other week we’re having a meeting about changing this or that policy. Or perhaps we’re getting an email at least once or twice a week about being able to accept or deny new pieces of information for customers when they apply for different programs. Then there’s the constant change in seating arrangements. I feel like I’m back in high school, moving desks because the teachers disapprove of so-and-so sitting next to so-and-so or whatnot.

In fact…

I had to move my desk to a desk literally not two feet away from where I was sitting. It wasn’t a big deal. They had me move on Thursday. And while I’m not really complaining, I find it amusing that I was moved.

You see, I didn’t ask to be moved.

Evelyn did.

She has severe asthma, and it’s been acting up terribly in our prior seating arrangement next to the supervisor. We were seated directly under a vent that constantly pumped out air (whether warm or cold) that would irritate her asthma and cause her to cough uncontrollably. Honestly, it was an OSHA issue more than anything else. But she was going nuts trying to get over the coughing, and she had requested to be moved to a seat where there was no vent (a seemingly impossible task in our large facility).

She requested to take over the resident “bro-ski’s” seat because he sat in an area that wasn’t as heavily hit by vents. Now “bro-ski” is an okay guy, but he’s not someone I talk to a lot, and I’m not particularly a fan of his. Evelyn took him aside and explained her situation and asked him nicely if he’d consider switching seats with her. His response was, unfortunately, predictable.

He told her in no uncertain terms he would raise cain if she tried to get him to move.

Well, strike one.

Then my supervisor came up to me on Thursday morning after I noticed her speaking to “bro-ski” and asked if I would move. She told me she knew I wasn’t really interested in moving but asked if I’d be willing to. I said I would, end of story. I mean, they’d move me anyway, so I had little choice in the matter.

That afternoon our systems went down completely for about an hour. It was great and glorious. I couldn’t take calls. It was a really beautiful world. And that’s when I moved. I took over another “bro-ski’s” desk who was out sick that day, and that’s when I realized what had happened.

In order to pacify “bro-ski,” they moved me so that his “bromance” with our other “bro-ski” could continue unhindered by distance. And of course, because the “bromance brothers” are the “teacher’s pet” types in the call center, they get pacified in their desires.

I know that’s very sarcastic and all, but you have to understand the call center life is one of those things that is very similar to high school. You have the teacher’s pets who suck up to the supervisors and get what they want. You have the cool kids who band together and get to do special things because they’re cool and they can. And then you have people who don’t really fit and just try to make it without getting in trouble.

There’s more to it than that, but I’ll likely do a separate post about how the call center is just like high school.

In short, I got bumped for the “bromance” duo, and I’m not altogether unhappy, just amused at the irony of favoritism.

In other news: I am hoping and praying for a favorable review of an interview I had Friday afternoon with an amazing company that I’d love to work for. I won’t say much here now, but I had a phone interview with them last Thursday and arranged for an in-person interview with them Friday afternoon. And now it’s a matter of waiting for them to call me this Friday to let me know if I get to go on to an executive interview, the next step in their process. I’ll definitely keep you posted on how that goes! Be wishing me lots of luck!

Finally, I have to say I had an excellent Valentine’s Day with my dear Fernando.

He surprised me big time, and though the women at work were wagering on how many bouquets I’d receive and whether he’d propose or not (to both of which they were disappointed), I was frustrated by the end of the work day. The flowers rolled in, and it was a riot of roses in the office, but none came for me. And what really frustrated me wasn’t the lack of a delivery but my co-workers’ constant jabbing at me about how I hadn’t gotten anything yet and how something much bigger and shinier must be waiting for me at home. (Or as one co-worker put it, I must have a “butt naked man” waiting for me.)

By the time I went home, I was annoyed and ready to call it a night and just go wherever for dinner and not even bother with all the hoopla surrounding Valentines, even though I’d made Fernando a card on Sunday and gotten him chocolate-covered strawberries the day before. So when he showed up at my door dressed nicely with his hands behind his back and told me to pick a hand, I was taken aback and felt annoyed with myself for being annoyed.

He brought me chocolates and a beautiful bouquet of red and pink roses and the sweetest card. I think I liked the card best. Probably because he wrote me the most wonderful note, and I’m nothing if not won over by a few lines of ink on paper. I almost cried but didn’t and instead hugged him and didn’t want to let go to get dinner.

We went to a seafood restaurant here in town and got a delicious meal. I got a nice fish that wasn’t too fishy tasting with a lemon caper sauce and au gratin potatoes. He got filet mignon and lobster and steamed broccoli. And it was all just lovely. I thoroughly enjoyed my Valentine’s Day with my first Valentine.

I’m not going to make a huge deal out of it, but he was incredibly sweet, and I adored him for it. And now here’s hoping all the good vibes from Valentine’s allowed my interview Friday to push me toward the potential for a new and better job in a company that seems to be really amazing and, more importantly, cares for its employees and wants them to enjoy coming to work.

What a difference that would make!

We shall see. And I will definitely keep you posted.

– RaeNez

Valentine’s Week, What?

Lo and behold… it is the week of February 14th. While many of my friends will be lamenting their single status and posting the joys of being single while secretly drinking their woes away with liquid courage and indulging in pint after pint of Ben & Jerry’s (the best threesome a girl could wish for) over some fashionably cheesy chick flicks, I’ll be doing… well.. something different.

No, this isn’t the cheesy blog post you were looking for.

Not yet.

That comes later, I can assure you.

I’ll actually, you know, have a Valentine this year.

Wow.

Fernando isn’t exactly super excited about the prospect, but that’s okay. Guys don’t have to be. Valentine’s Day is traditionally more about the girl, and everyone knows Fernando isn’t the kind of guy who only shows his affection when he has to, like on holidays and birthdays.

He’s insisted all along he won’t be doing anything special for Valentine’s Day simply because he sends me flowers when he feels like it and does special things with me all the time.

He’s the perfect Valentine all the time. Well, that was cheesy. He’s not perfect, but for the purposes of making me feel loved, he is.

That said, since we both work Valentine’s until 6 pm for me and 7 pm for him, we’ll be going to dinner late and relaxing. I told him we didn’t have to do anything fancy. I’m just glad I get to see him because, gosh darnit, I’ve never had a Valentine, and I’m going to celebrate it with him just a little!

Yes, I’m girly. Yes, I’m sentimental. Yes, I want a Valentine, dangit.

So with less than two days to go until I get to see him for Valentine’s, I’m just feeling excited that I’ll get to smile and hug him and be all cutesy and couply. Because, let’s face it, I’ve never, ever, ever had a Valentine in my life.

I’m 20-something-years-old, and this is the first time I’ll have a legit, “I like you,” dinner date Valentine. I’m not going to miss it. I’m going to be super excited after dealing with ridiculous people who can’t be bothered to take any responsibility for themselves because, quite frankly, I don’t care if you are in debt or not. I’m going out with the guy I like when I get off the phone with you, and to heck with your blankety-blank account. In fact, if you’d please go jump off a cliff, things would be so much easier.

Well, maybe I shouldn’t ask people to jump off a cliff.

Though a little sense of personal responsibility wouldn’t go amiss… like, you know, actually acknowledging that you went into debt instead of just claiming it suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Because debt doesn’t appear, and babies aren’t delivered by the stork.

Sorry to kill your fantasies. Santa doesn’t exist either. And the economy is very broken and not looking up despite our fearless (political) leaders trying to convince us it is.

A little reality check for some people is definitely in order. But I suppose I’ll go into that later. Probably tomorrow since I have a very specific someone in mind whose particular brand of denial has reached levels even I’m impressed with.

For now… Valentine’s!

(I’m going to go be sappy and watch Downton Abbey now instead of listening to the President try to convince me he cares about me. Because if he did, he’d, you know, keep his promises and fix the economy so I could get a new job – and yes, this is what I’m talking about with the personal responsibility stuff, people.)

– RaeNez

 

I Like A Man Who…

…challenges me intellectually.

Of course, this is why I enjoy Fernando.

I do not, however, like a man who thinks he can challenge me intellectually under the pretense that he’s a man and knows better than me because I’m a woman. It’s the classic “I know better than you. I’m a man.” complex that makes me roll my eyes in amusement as I casually crush his dreams because I am, quite happily, smarter than him.

No, I’m not bragging.

Honest.

I’m just saying.

As a woman, I like a good battle of wits. I like to be challenged intellectually. Stimulate my brain, and you’ll appeal to me on so many levels. Stimulate my cynicism and sarcasm, and you’ve got me hooked. Engage me in a battle of wits where the object is to entertain and amuse rather than demean and dominate, and you’ll have my attention for sure.

However, when you translate this intellectual challenge to my job, I have to say, don’t even bother.

I know what I’m doing. You don’t. I don’t care if you’re a man with a degree in five different things. You don’t know what I do, so quit trying to sound ultra-intellectual. You just come off sounding ridiculous.

“Oh yes, but doesn’t that mean that during those periods the interest accrual is deferred due to the account being on hiatus per my request?”

You just spoke Greek, I’m pretty sure. And, even though I can translate all that, you’re wrong. Sorry. No offense intended, but don’t try to sound smart. You just come off sounding like a moron.

This, boys and girls, is the lesson of the day: How To Convince The Call Center Rep To Do What You Want. And this is how not to get her to do it.

Man: “Have you received and processed my payment request?”

Me: “We’ve received it, but it’s still in processing. It typically takes 7-10 business days to process these requests. We should have this completed by the middle of next week.”

Man: “How can we fix the account right now since I haven’t paid?”

Me: “We can’t. We’ll have to wait for your payment request to go through.”

Note: This is not the time where you should decide you know better than me. This is where you should smile, nod, and get off the dang phone so I can take the next call.

Man: “My wife submitted the same payment request on her account and spoke with a rep and was told they could fix it over the phone for her. Why is it you can’t do that for me? The other rep did it on my wife’s account.”

Oh, yes, I feel oh so guilty now because I didn’t fix your account for you the way the other rep did for your wife. Mmhm. In fact, I clearly lied to you the first time I told you we couldn’t fix your account. 

Me: “You don’t have any available options to fix your account without waiting for the payment request to go through. You’ve used all of your options, and there are none left.”

Clearly I must be mocking you. Or maybe I’m speaking in tongues. Either way, what I’m saying and what you’re hearing are not the same. 

Man: “But the other rep was able to do this to my wife’s account. I don’t see why you can’t do it to mine.”

And if your wife’s account jumped off a cliff… okay, bad example. But seriously. Perhaps you should pay more attention to the fact you have, you know, separate accounts? 

Me: “Your wife may have had available options on her account. You do not. We’ll just have to wait until your payment request processes.”

Yes, I recognize that I don’t speak clear enough English to make it plain that your account is not going to be fixed until we process your request if it takes you three tries to figure it out. But all that did was keep me on the phone a few seconds longer and made you sound like an ignorant fool because you seem to think that your account and your wife’s account are the same thing.

Perhaps I should rephrase…

I like a man who challenges me intellectually unless it’s on the job. Then I like a man who shuts up and leaves the talking to me, takes what I say, and gets off the phone as quickly as I’m through. Because clearly I’ve told you everything you need to know. So you can get off the phone and leave me alone now, ‘kay, thanks, and bye. 🙂

And that is the lesson from today’s round of Manic Monday Inbounds…

– RaeNez

P.S. If you’re one of those men who calls in and tells me your name is Doctor So-and-So to try to intimidate me into thinking you’re smart (whether you’re an MD or a PhD), you can leave that at the “May I ask who I’m speaking with” door because I will not be addressing you as Doctor. You will be Joe Blow like every other Joe Blow I speak with, and you, too, are no smarter than any other Joe Blow who thinks he knows everything there is to know about my business. Unless you work in the same industry as me, I feel no compunction whatsoever in telling you how wrong your intellectual smarminess is, and I take great joy in crushing those hoity-toity words you think you can use to intimidate me… especially since I understand them and can throw them right back at you the way they’re meant to be used. Next time, grab a dictionary…

Sometimes I want to run away…

Photo from when I studied abroad in Italy… Ah, Venice, how I miss you!

There are days I look back through photos and remember the adventures I’ve taken, and it’s all I can do not to want to scrimp and save every ounce of cash to run off on another adventure overseas again.

Today is one of those days.

The above is a photo I took while sitting in a gondola in Venice, Italy, during my summer semester abroad there in college. It was beautiful, fascinating, foreign, and one of the first times I really caught the foreign travel bug.

A little town called Civita, also in Italy… an incredible place to visit.

One of the places we visited while in Italy was a tiny Etruscan (pre-Christ) town called Civita. Aside from the large cities, this was by far my favorite city that I saw. It was gorgeous, old, and the views were incredible.

A view looking out from the city of Civita, Italy. Breathtaking!

I captured so many photos of times and places that caught my attention, stole my breath, and made my life feel more than normal. It made the adventurer in me surface in the worst way, and it made me want to run away again and again to these strange foreign places that we think are exotic but are really just home to another set of people.

And today is one of those days when I wish I could run away again to another foreign country… or one I’ve already visited. I’m not too picky. I’ll take what I can get. I’m saving money now for any expenses that could potentially come up unexpectedly anyway, and I’m a bit of a nut about things like this, so it’s not really that difficult for me to add a little extra on the side.

Maybe I should save a bit and suggest a getaway with Fernando? Perhaps somewhere a bit exotic for the both of us?

A view of St. Peter’s Basilica I took from atop the Spanish Steps at sundown in Rome.

Perhaps I should introduce Fernando to some of my favorite foreign places, like Rome… where you can dine on pasta and wine for hours on end and walk around at dusk to quaintly lit streets with a view of the St. Peter’s Basilica from any height in the city. I did so love discovering my traveler’s genes in Rome particularly, where I learned how to navigate a foreign subway and developed an affinity for certain parts of the city, like the Spanish Steps, which were surrounded by some of my favorite designers.

Ah well.

The point of all this is that there are moments when even trying to push through the monotony can’t keep me from longing to escape it all in a mad dash to adventure. And so I find myself perusing old photos and wishing fondly for days when I could go tackle crazy jobs in foreign countries and travel on foreign dimes and see the world in my own mad way.

Perhaps I will again someday, but not tonight. For tonight, I have my photos and dreams and the promises of tomorrow. And, as they say, tomorrow is another day…

RaeNez