Monday, March 27, 2006

Complaint update

I spent an hour or so Thursday afternoon composing a letter of complaint to the post office about the way I was treated on Tuesday. Then, I went searching for an address to send it to...not an easy task. I finally went to the Internet and found a place to e-mail complaints, so that's what I did. The complaint didn't go to the post office in Dallas, though, it went to the main post office...wherever that is. The site promised an answer in 1-2 days, but I wasn't holding my breath. Honestly, I didn't expect to get anything except your basic form-letter response.

Imagine my surprise when, good to their word, Saturday evening I found a reply e-mail from the post office thanking me for contacting them. They acknowledged my complaint, and said that they had forwarded it to the local post office where the incident occurred. Once again, they promised a response within 1-2 days, this time from the local post office.

Sure enough, today I received a call from a woman at the local post office asking me about my complaint and going over a few of the details. I think she was the station manager. She was very pleasant, apologized profusely, promised me it would never happen again, and said she would take it up with the woman who had been so rude to me.

All I can say is...WOW!! I never expected my complaint to go anywhere. I figured it would fall on deaf ears, but I'm happy to say that I was wrong. Needless to say, it was a pleasant surprise. Sure, it probably won't make a difference in that woman's attitude, but I'm not sure anything could. As for me, a simple apology goes a long way.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Some people......

Sorry, but I need to VENT!!! I went to the post office yesterday right after work to mail three packages that Katie was sending to Seth. I got there as quickly as I was about 4:45 when I got in line. There were about 6 people in front of me, but only 1 person at the counter. That's okay, I made it there before they closed, and I didn't care how long it took. I was in a good mood and happy to be sending him packages. I had a 4th package that wasn't quite full, so I decided not to send that one until today...I just baked more brownies last hear that, Seth? :)

Anyway, I stood there patiently as each of the people in front of me took at least 5 minutes apiece to take care of their business. Finally, a second person shuffled up to the counter (and I do mean she took her sweet time getting there) and the line began to move a bit faster. I finally got to the counter at about 5:05 (a very nice man behind me in line helped me carry my boxes, too). Well, the woman behind the counter proceeded to admonish me for waiting so late in the day to mail my packages. She said that they closed at 5 and wanted to get the last few customers taken care of as quickly as possible and that packages were very time consuming, especially when they involved customs forms. Now, Katie had already filled out the customs forms and everything was addressed properly and ready to go. All she had to do was weigh each one and attach the postage and customs form. I must have been in too good a mood, because I found myself apologizing to this woman about not being able to get there earlier, that I had to work till 4:30. But the more she said, the more my mood changed. I never said anything to her, but as I walked out the door afterwards, I got pissed. She had alot of nerve complaining about having to spend an extra 5 minutes processing packages to go to a soldier overseas in a war zone. Talk about insensitive and arrogant!! I didn't complain to her about being kept waiting so long.

Well, by the time I got home, I had decided that I was going to write a letter of complaint to the post office and send copies to the local news stations and papers (like that's gonna do any good). But it will make me feel better and maybe, just maybe, somebody will care. If nothing else, maybe she'll get her hand slapped and she won't do that to someone else (yeah, right).

But you know what's really gonna make me feel good?? I'm taking another box to that same post office this afternoon...and I hope I get that same a matter of fact, I may make sure I get that same woman. Go ahead, punk...make my day...... :)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

My flyboy

Most of the posts I've written have dealt with Seth's deployment, as that occupies alot of my thoughts. Perfectly normal under the circumstances. After all, that's why I started this blog. But I have two other sons who make me very proud and I certainly haven't forgotten about them. Today I'm going to tell you a little bit about my flyboy.

Kevin, my middle son, joined the Air Force when he was just 18, practically right out of high school. It had been his dream for years...and I do mean years (see the picture below) become a jet engine mechanic...enough of a dream that after speaking with an Air Force recruiter during his junior year, he suddenly became an honor role student. I can't help but smile when I think about that. You see, he wasn't the best student in school, but once he found his direction he came alive.

Sending him off to basic training was one of the hardest things I ever did. He was just 18 and was the first son to leave the nest. The night he left, I cried the whole time I was cooking dinner. That was 8 years ago this how time flies.

After completing basic and tech school, he was stationed at Barksdale AFB in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was disappointed that he didn't get stationed in some interesting, faroff place; I was thrilled that he was only 3 hours away...... :) He was assigned to the flight line and worked on B-52s. He learned his job well and earned the reputation of being a hard worker who knew his stuff and could be counted on to get the job done. He helped launch the planes that went over to Afghanistan right after the 9/11 attack...and desperately wished he was going with them. But, that's the life of a jet troop, as they are called, you keep the engines running and the planes flying, but you don't usually go with them.

Kevin spent 5 years at Barksdale. During that time, he went on a hot shot run to fix one of their planes that broke down in the Azores, a small group of islands off the coast of Portugal. What was really unusual about that trip was that he flew over on a B-52 that was headed to the war, and flew back on the one he repaired. Not many B-52 mechanics get to fly on the planes they work on. He also went TDY (temporary deployment) to Guam for 10 days, but flew on a commercial airline that time. While on Guam, he visited the World War II museum that pays homage to the Marines who landed there in 1944 to take the island back from the Japanese. He brought some books and stuff back to his Grampa (my dad), who was one of the Marines who made that landing nearly 60 years earlier. That was so cool!!!

Kevin finally got his chance to be stationed some place interesting 2 1/2 years ago. They needed a jet troop at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, Alaska. Hot dog!!! He jumped all over that one. Alaska is truly the last frontier and he has loved his time there. He started out in a back shop working on F-15 components, but moved out to the flight line as soon as there was an opening. That's where his heart is. The move changed him to AWACS planes. This gave him the opportunity to travel on the plane when they went TDY to other locations. As a matter of fact, he just returned from a 1-month TDY to Japan and Thailand. This picture was taken at Korat Air Base in Thailand while the maintenance crew was waiting for the flight crew to show up to fly them home. I call it...Kevin in his engine. Appropriate, don't you think???

This summer, when his 3-year Alaska tour is up, he's moving to Cannon AFB in New Mexico. He'll be working on fighters again, F-16s this time, and will start in the back shop. But if I know him, it won't be long before he starts looking towards that flight line again. He loves being out where the action is. I'm not upset about the move, and neither is he. I think he's looking forward to being a bit closer to home for a while, and I like that idea, too. Plus, his dad and I are going to fly up and drive the Alcan Highway with him when he comes back to the lower 48. Yep, there will be a post and pictures about that.

Anyway, ya'll keep your fingers crossed for Kevin...he tests for Tech Sergeant tomorrow. For those of you who don't know, it really is a test, and a hard one at that. So say a little prayer that he does well...I will. Good luck, huggy bear. I love you...... :)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The homecoming......and going

The homecoming
We went to Terminal D, the new international terminal at the airport, to get Seth on Monday, February 20th. That's where all the overseas flights land now, which is really a shame since they just built that nice new USO in Terminal B. But, the guys coming in aren't usually at the airport very long...just long enough to be picked up by their families or make connecting flights.

I'm sure all of you have heard about the Maine Troop Greeters... they've been mentioned in the papers and on the Internet. They greeted Seth's group on their way to Iraq with food and phones to call home. But, I bet not many of you have heard about the group that greets troops at DFW let me tell you about them.

Being our first time to meet a soldier, we wandered into the terminal not knowing what to expect, what gate to go to, or anything. A very nice woman at the information booth asked if we were there to meet a soldier. When we said yes, she proceeded to give us a free parking pass for the day, flag pins, and all kinds of information about his arrival and when he would have to return. We ended up knowing more than Seth did..... :) As we waited, more and more people of all ages started gathering.....young Girl Scouts with boxes of cookies to hand out to the soldiers, a group of people from AT&T, a man with two young sons who carried flags and signs saying thank you, a group of teenagers, and assorted families and individuals. There must have been at least 50 or 60 people there, but most of them weren't meeting a particular soldier, they were just there to say thank you and welcome them home. How heartwarming!!!

As the time neared for the plane's arrival, we were moved to the front of a chute outside the doors leading from the international gate. Families of soldiers were first in line, followed by all the others. By the time the troops started trickling out, a gauntlet of people had formed. The soldiers and marines had to funnel through an ever-narrowing mass of people wanting to pat them on the back and shake their hands, and the whistles, yells, and applause were thunderous. What a rush!!!

Seth was attacked by Katie as soon as he walked through the door, followed closely by hugs from me and his dad. We stood for a while at the front of the line, until Seth had been hugged enough and said he was ready to get out of there. However, he had yet to run the gauntlet. Not only did the greeters want to shake his hand and thank him, they thanked us, too. I've never felt so humbled and so wonderful at the same time. What wonderful people they are to take time out of their busy day to greet our returning troops. I still get teary-eyed when I think about it. God bless all of them!!!

When Seth left yesterday, it was totally different. He left from Terminal B, where the USO is...but that's only for another week, then the troops will start leaving from Terminal D. I think it's pretty sad to take them away from the terminal where the USO is located, though. Let me tell you a little bit about the USO at DFW.

Someone from the USO greets each one of the troops as they arrive and gives them a place to store their bags until they manifest...which always seems to be at 1500. They tell them exactly what to expect, when things will happen, what the families need to do to go inside the secure area to wait with their soldier......and if you don't ask, they track you down and tell you. Then, after a very loud Sgt gives everyone instructions, checks their bags, and gives them boarding passes, the soldiers are free until boarding time. While waiting for their flight, the USO is there to help any way they can...provide a place to sit and hangout, let you call home, provide a snack or a drink, and just do whatever they can to make you feel at home.

We ate at Fridays (sound familiar, Casanova?) and then wandered down to the departure gate to sit and talk. After a while, two older ladies with carts full of snacks and other stuff tracked down each and every soldier in the terminal, no matter where they were, to see if they wanted anything. Not just for the troops, but for their families, too. The carts were full of goodies...donuts, jerky, gum, candy, you name it they had it, as well as toothbrushes and razors...and each soldier was told to take as much as he/she wanted of anything. Seth grabbed a handful of jerky and a package of donuts and proceeded to munch. Later, as each soldier loaded onto the plane, they were handed an extra-large ziplock bag full of stuff, including a calling card to call home. And both cart ladies hugged or patted each and every soldier on the arm or back and thanked him/her as they boarded the plane.

Ken, Katie, and I stood and watched until the last soldier boarded and then just kind of looked at each other. As we stood there, the cart ladies made their way over to us and proceeded to say how proud they were of each of the soldiers. Then they thanked us and asked about our soldier. They gave us each a hug, at which time I almost lost it, and we asked about their "jobs". They said they were volunteers, and that no amount of money could compare to the reward they get when they see the smiles of the soldiers and get to send them off with a hug and a wave. Man, it doesn't get any better than that. God bless our USO and all the wonderful volunteers!!!