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Have It Your Way by:
Don Dunham

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Barfly Tales From The Barstool By: Clint Lien

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In My Opinion
By L.N.P.

It's amazing to me how little someone's word seems to mean nowadays. I'm talking about the people with whom I come in contact who seem to have forgotten about integrity. People who lie as easily as I brush my teeth. People who promise something and then act as though that promise is irrelevant. They are everywhere, and it's starting to disillusion me.

Sometimes it's as simple as the ice-maker repair man who came to the house and declared that without replacing the motor, for $225, the ice-maker would never make ice again. When that happened more than a year ago, my husband refused to pay. Instead, he blew hot air on the frozen pipe connecting the icemaker to the water line, and the machine has made more ice than we know what to do with ever since. Same kind of thing with the satellite guy, who charged us $149 to fix the dish, swearing that it was now in perfect condition. When we stopped receiving a signal again one week later, he came back and said that there was yet another repair to be made, for a similar sum. We asked why it wasn't under warranty, since he had just fixed it a week ago. Naturally, that particular part was the only part that wasn't under warranty. Since fixing it was costing more than buying it, we took the damn dish down. We don't have time to watch that much television anyway.

Of course, that stuff happens to everyone. We have all come to expect being ripped off by repair people, and when we meet an honest repair person we are often as shocked as we are delighted. Which in itself is pretty scary. But often, it isn't even a case of being ripped off; it's just whether or not the person keeps his or her word.

For example, the phrase, "I'm in a meeting now, but I promise I'll get back to you today," seems to have lost all meaning. It's become an empty saying, similar to "how are you?" When I was much younger, and far more nave, I believed that when someone asked "how are you" they actually wanted to know how I was. But I learned long ago that any answer other than "fine," "great," or "hangin' in there" was not only not expected, but seemed to be in very bad taste, requiring more of the asker than he or she was prepared to give. Now it's the same with "I'll get back to you today." I've found that one could easily substitute "Bye now" or "when I get around to it I may or may not ring you up" and be far more accurate. It's very disillusioning.

We brought our car to the mechanic on Friday, scared out of our minds at the variety of ways we could be ripped off by that simple act. But we have yet to find out the potential damage. The incredibly charming owner of the shop told us he'd call us the next day with an estimate. Have you heard from him, because he never called us. And then there's the succession of pool men we've gone through. It's become a standard joke in our house that pool guys come around for several weeks, establish a pattern, get to know our dogs, convince us to trust them, and then disappear. It must be part of the job description: know how to clean filters, know how to change chemicals, know how to scrape the sides of the pool, know how to disappear. Who knows.

The other day I made an appointment with a health insurance broker. He was recommended by a friend, and my husband and I were in dire need of a new healthcare plan, so why not. His pitch over the phone was unbelievably tempting, and he guaranteed that not only could he get us the exact same coverage we had on our old plan, but he bragged about how he was going to save us thousands of dollars. After two meetings and several phone calls, we did finally get insured, with almost the same benefits we had before. But we didn't save any money, much less thousands of dollars. Of course, our broker never acknowledged that he'd been wrong to promise something he couldn't deliver. I'm thrilled to have a healthcare plan, but personally, I think he should have been embarrassed, maybe even said he was sorry. I guess that's what happens when you expect someone's word to mean something; you are bound to be disappointed.

The list, really, is endless. The doctor's receptionist who says she'll relay my message to the doctor, who tells me two days later he didn't know I had called. The client who promises to pay my bill and tells me three weeks later they've misplaced my invoice. The food delivery service that says "20 minutes" when I ask when the food will arrive, and shows up 45 minutes later. The cleaners, who promise my clothes will be ready on Friday, and then ask if I can come back Saturday because everything isn't quite ready yet. Just tell me the truth!!!!!

But there are still a few people who keep their promises, a few things I can count on. My husband's love and support, and the love and support of my family, for example. Thank you. My business associate-he knows who he is-who has never let me down. Thank you. And the S&J Kibble Company. They've never failed to deliver my dogs' food on time. So, thanks to you guys, too. I guess some people have still hung on to their integrity.

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