Category Archives: Humour

Dear Loyalty Apps, Please Stop Logging Me Out!

In 2016, I published a blog post about the number of loyalty cards I was carrying and the challenge in keeping track of all of them. There had to be an easier way.

I still maintain that with impeccable client service and reasonable prices, we could probably skip loyalty programs.

But marketing wizards seem to have tapped into our basic human need to belong, and have turned clubs and memberships into an art form that seems to fill a void. Sometimes the exclusive rewards and personal offers are so well thought out that we overlook the consumer information that we have volunteered about ourselves to get to those benefits.

Shortly after that post appeared, I figured I had nothing to lose in trying to keep track of all of them with the smart phone apps that they were offering.

Initially, the issue I encountered was that my antiquity of a phone was sometimes too slow to produce the apps as soon as I needed them. To proceed with the experiment, I had to wait until my phone was retired and replaced.

When I bought a new phone, I jumped on the bandwagon in a big way and signed up for all of the apps to replace the imposing stack of loyalty cards I had accumulated.

My next task was to learn how to juggle products like a circus performer, while waiting in line to check out. I wanted to avoid the huffing, puffing and sighing from the shoppers behind me, as we all waited for an app to launch.

I became pretty good at holding different products under my armpits, between my legs, or in my teeth while needing both hands to swipe my way to the right app at the right time. I’m sure that there is some funny security footage out there to attest to my newly found skills.

But despite my best efforts, I have encountered times when certain apps won’t connect at all, despite the phone being brand new, fully updated, fully charged and I am in the city with an unobstructed view of a cell phone tower.

It has happened enough that backup planning has become an essential part of the process to avoid disappointment, whether that means bringing the card, taking a picture of the card or carrying a paper backup of event tickets rewarded through a card.

But truly, I shouldn’t have to.

What has been a greater test of my calm and cool exterior has been when an app logs me out of my account just before I use it. This has happened to me more times than I would care to discuss, eliciting a few choice four-letter words in the moment, and I’d like to tell the companies producing these apps that this is unacceptable.

It is bad enough that for certain cards we need a strong password with upper and lower characters, a number and a special non-alphanumeric character, with a minimum of 72 characters, that cannot be an actual word or phrase in any earthly language, and that cannot replicate any other password I have ever used in any app over the course of this lifetime.

OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration but in a pinch, can I remember my password? No.

After the first few times it happened, I thought that it would be a good practice to open the app from home, just to test it and to make sure I wasn’t logged out before a major shopping excursion to sweep up bonus points. But in the time it took me to get from my house to the store, one app found some absurd logic to log me out just before I got to the checkout. Yes, I mumbled another choice four-letter word.

When faced with an untimely log out and an inability to remember the strong password, I stepped out of the checkout line to do a password reset, which solved the problem, and I was able to scoop up the pile of bonus points I was offered. But again, I should not have to.

Here’s the thing: they have my email address. Without one, you can’t sign up for a loyalty account or register for an app. Would it be too much trouble to send me an email to say “Hey Andre, we see that you’re enjoying our app. It looks like you haven’t used the login screen for the last 60 days. We want to be sure it’s still you. Would you mind logging out of your app and logging back in before (insert date here)?”

A warning like that would be fabulous!

If this is the game we have to play to save money on our favourite products or to have access to some interesting rewards, then I am willing to commit some energy to it.

To save my aging back from being misaligned due to a thick wallet full of plastic loyalty cards, I would wholeheartedly embrace the technology. I would also like to go paperless as much as possible, to avoid the need to haul a filing cabinet of back up papers with me.

It really is marvelous what technology can do. But I encourage and challenge companies to put some more resources into getting their technology working perfectly and to step up their game from a user-friendliness perspective and from a client service perspective.

When the smart phone apps are working seamlessly and flawlessly every time, that’s when my loyalty will be well-earned and well-deserved.

Did you enjoy this post? If you haven’t already, please check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox. Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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Filed under 50+, Humour, Misc blogs

Why Car Sensors Make Me Jumpy

When I bought my car, it was with the intention of finding a new vehicle that wouldn’t be any trouble for my last couple of years of working and commuting.

My previous car was 7 years old, with just over 100,000 km on the odometer and starting to get to that point where it might need significant maintenance or even replacement. The problem is that with car issues, you’re never really sure when or where that will happen, often with little or no advance notice.

I didn’t want to be “that guy” stuck on the side of the highway, blocking traffic during rush hour traffic, annoying people and being on the receiving end of people showing me their middle fingers. For my own peace of mind, a newer car was the solution.

However, as much as I love the smooth ride and the peace of mind from knowing that the car is not likely to need fixing anytime soon, my car’s dashboard has seen the sight of my own middle finger (but not when I’m driving, of course).

The reason: the sensitive car sensors.

In the short time I have had the car, I have had the experience of several dashboard warning lights coming on, beeping loudly, to announce “issues”. Continue reading

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Why Watching Paint Dry Can Be Fun

Much like most people, over the years, I have indeed used the expression “it’s like watching paint dry” to describe an event that might be considered boring. But based upon my recent experience, I might reconsider my use of the phrase. I just don’t agree with its accuracy anymore.

In this year’s round of spring cleaning and home projects, I decided to get some painting done.

As much as I love the whole ceremony of painting, in recent years, time and energy have been in short supply.

Plus, my body just doesn’t seem to respond well to weekend paint jobs without complaining in the days that follow. Between working muscles that don’t usually get used in that way and with arthritis starting to drop in unexpectedly, it was time for me to (reluctantly) look into hiring a painting company.

Upon finding a highly recommended team of painters, I decided to put their professional expertise to the best possible use. The first project was one set of walls I haven’t done since I moved in: the walls around the staircase.

I don’t know what the actual height of that area is but I do recall that the few times I tried to dust the lighting fixture or to try to grab the cobwebs in the corners, I felt like the Roadrunner’s archenemy, Wile E Coyote, trying device after device to extend my reach to get the job done.

When I was finally successful in completing the task, it was usually followed by a visit to the medicine cabinet for some internal and/or external approaches to pain relief.

I decided that for this paint job, the extent of my involvement would be to tidy up before, to remove my personal effects from the painting area, to set up the cat in another part of the house with food, water, litter and favourite toys, and then for me to sit and relax.

I admit that it felt like I was going against nature to be sitting, sipping coffee and clearing content off the PVR, while the painters were hard at work. I truly had to supress my natural impulses to pick up a brush and to help them.

But when the aroma of the ceiling paint starting wafting toward the living room, I knew I had made the right decision.

When they invited me to check in on the progress, my heart was pounding with joy to see the wall starting to get restored to its original beauty. That was when I knew I had made the right decision and that my investment in professional painters was money well spent.

A few hours later, it was time for the big reveal. I felt like I was on one of those HGTV shows, as all I could say was “Oh my God”, staring at the walls in disbelief, marveling at the beauty of their work.

When they had left, I parked myself on the top step of the staircase and sat there, literally, watching the paint dry.

As I breathed in the aroma of fresh paint and stared at the walls, I felt a range of emotions. Boredom was definitely not on the radar.

I felt a sense of accomplishment. The task which got consistently pushed down the to-do list over the years was finally done, even though I didn’t do it myself.

I felt amazement that the bumps and scuffs left behind by 33 years of home owners and renters were completely erased as the walls were restored to their unblemished beauty.

I felt gratitude in thinking that whenever I decide to put the house up for sale, this monstrous task won’t need to be done again.

I felt relief in thinking of the physical pain I spared myself by having a team of experienced painters (who probably know better how to avoid the strains I would have experienced) take care of the walls and ceilings in areas I could not easily reach.

I felt pure joy in seeing how one coat of “Cloud White” paint in one highly visible area makes the whole house look better and fresher.

After this wonderful experience, I also felt encouragement that I have found a painting company I can trust for future painting jobs.

While some people might think that watching paint dry might be boring, I think they need to look a little harder to find the joy, the satisfaction and the gratitude that comes with freshly painted walls.

Did you enjoy this post? If you haven’t already, please check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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Filed under 50+, Humour, Misc blogs

Goldilocks and the White Socks

Regular readers of my blog are probably familiar with my adventures in shopping that involve a lot of research, testing, comparison and disappointment that often sound like a story about Goldilocks.

When some products are too big, others are too small, and over the course of multiple shopping trips, I hope to find the one that is just right.

One such situation these days is my hunt for white socks. All I am looking for is plain, white, mostly cotton, athletic-style socks for very casual situations. Sounds simple, right?

For some reason, manufacturers and buyers for stores don’t seem to be on the same wave length. Plain white socks are hard to find.

For years I was able to find them here in Canada at a well-known store (that shall remain nameless). One day, I bought a pack of three pairs that left me with the impression that they had changed. The answer came a few washings later when the elastics completely gave out and the socks were falling repeatedly. This didn’t happen before. Someone must have changed the “recipe”.

I switched to another brand that was available at that time, which lasted a few years until they discontinued the men’s small size and carried only “one size fits all”. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Humour

10 Things You Must Never Do at a Comedy Show

Over the years, I have had the great pleasure of attending many stand-up comedy shows. I have always been a firm believer that laughter is the best medicine and that a good dose of belly laughs can be a welcomed break from the seriousness of the world.

I have been most fortunate in being able to catch a few shows a year, whether they featured major icons of comedy or rising young stars who were able to successfully guide us into taking a step back and have a chuckle at the silliness that surrounds us.

I would even add to the mix certain musical artists who share so many funny stories between sets of music that you aren’t sure whether you saw stand-up comedy with a side order of music or music with a side order of stand-up comedy.

Either way, I am most grateful for the artists who have the knack for telling a funny story and made a few hundred or a few thousand people laugh. It’s an incredible talent and a joy to behold!

To me, the show that will always be remembered most fondly is a Just for Laughs Gala in Montreal hosted by the legendary Joan Rivers, a couple of years before her passing.

But over the years, I have had many eyeball rolling moments at audience members. I often ask myself if they’ve ever been to a comedy show as they seem to break every unwritten rule about attending a comedy show and in some cases, annoying the rest of the audience.

To help set the record straight, here are my suggestions of things you should NEVER do at a comedy show: Continue reading

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Librarian Jokes

Not too long ago, I found a joke on social media that started with “I asked the librarian for…” and ended with a funny one-liner.

I am not sure why it struck a chord like it did, but it set my brain on an endless loop, trying to come up with one-liners of my own. While I certainly wouldn’t categorize myself as a comedy writer, I had a lot of fun with “I asked the librarian for…” as a writing prompt. This is the result:

I asked the librarian for books on comedy. She said, “That’s a funny question.”
I asked the librarian for books about joy. She said she’d be happy to help!
I asked the librarian for books about exaggerations. She said that was the strangest question ever asked in the history of libraries.
I asked the librarian for books about intuition. She said she knew I would ask that.
I asked the librarian for books about silence. She didn’t answer.
I asked the librarian for books about fractures. She said, “Give me a break!”
I asked the librarian for books about wheels. Her answers kept going around in circles. Continue reading

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The Writers’ Olympics

I don’t think I am different from other writers. My mind can sometimes wander between paragraphs.

As I tossed a crumpled piece of paper in the wastebasket across the room, I cheered to myself, arms in the air, “Two points!”

But even though writing isn’t much of a spectator sport, I started daydreaming about what other sporting events could form part of an Olympic-level game for writers of all backgrounds.

The opening ceremonies would begin with poets, writers, editors, screenwriters, proofreaders and translators entering the arena, smiling and waving to a cheering crowd of spectators with an appreciation for the written word.

The athletes would gather on the field, in the centre of the arena, behind their national flags, taking care not to drop their notepads and laptop computers as they capture their thoughts on this momentous occasion.

The judges then enter the arena and gather by a symbolic pedestal of reference books, to take the oath to officiate with complete impartiality and to uphold the principles of good grammar and spelling.

Oprah Winfrey, the queen of book clubs around the world, would declare the games officially open with an enthusiastic, “Le-e-et the ga-a-ames be-e-egi-i-i-n!” Continue reading

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