Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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How to Lose a Customer

This morning I had the highest overnight fasting blood sugar level I've ever had: a (to me) jaw-dropping 150. Normal is about 100; typical for me is 115-125; highest ever was in the low 130s. After taking another test to confirm that it was indeed that high, I (at Lisa's orders) went out for a walk as soon as I could get dressed. I walked around 3K from the hotel down to the beach and then up and down the long seashore here at Seaside. It was a great morning, and indeed the weather has been great today, with perfect temperatures, light winds, and clear skies. I bet the merchants here were happy to finally get a sunny summer day on a weekend. After returning to the room, I tested my blood sugar again and it was down to 115, which made me feel better. (And an hour after breakfast, it was steady at 115.)

Sea-Pac opens at 9 AM (Registration opens at 8 AM; the Dealers Room set-up is most of Friday and early Saturday morning). Registration consists of giving them $10/person and getting a blank card with attached stub. You write your name (and usually your call sign) on the card, and put your name/call/address on the stub and deposit it into the prize drawing bin. As usual, Lisa provided attractive pre-made labels for me, her, and for Kuma Bear, who had his own special badge Lisa fashioned for him.

Aside from a couple of tracks of amateur-radio-related programming going on in the small side rooms, the convention primarily consists of filling the hall with large booth-type exhibit dealers for radio manufacturers, dealers, sellers of gadgets and accessories, etc., plus the "Flea Market" which consists of densely-packed tables on both the ground floor and balcony. As we slowly edged our way though the Flea Market, I remarked -- not for the first time -- that if we tried to pack the tables this tightly at any SF convention with which I'm familiar, the Fire Marshal would be all over us, not to mention our own members.

Lisa found a bunch of bits of used equipment, plus "targets of opportunity" like bags of cables, odd switches, connectors, and other jibbles and bits going for cheap prices. She was hobbled with her injured foot wrapped as yesterday. I had a canvas tote bag from Bucconeer, into which we loaded her purchases so the only thing she needed to carry was Kuma Bear. I made a couple of trips back to the hotel to unload her purchases. I'm glad that I brought empty boxes; it makes packing and transporting the stuff home easier.

One of the booths was an antenna manufacturer. They had a particular small antenna for which Lisa has been searching for a while. Lisa said, "I'll buy one."

The rep said, "We're not selling them; only displaying them. But Ham Radio Outlet on the other side of the room is the retail outlet for our antennas. You can buy one from them." He then also explained that if they didn't have any in stock, we should buy one from them anyway and bring the receipt back over to us and he could fill the order from his stock on hand.

We went over to Ham Radio Outlet's table, and sure enough, they didn't have any of the antennas. We explained what the rep had said, and they dutifully took Lisa's money and issued her a receipt. We returned to the manufacturer's booth and redeemed the receipt for an antenna. Lisa mentioned that one reason she wanted another one of these was that the outer cover had come off of the existing one she had, and while the antenna still worked, it was no longer properly shielded.

"Wait a minute," the rep said, and dug out an accessory box. He fished out a replacement antenna sheath and gave it to Lisa. "There you go! Saves me postage having to mail you one if you had contacted us about it." No charge. Yay!

Far less pleasant than the helpful NGC company representative was Lisa's encounter with the battery people. Lisa is using one of her radios as a noise generator to help mask her tinnitus. It's extremely important that the batteries never fail on the radio. Because she's been using them a lot, she wanted to buy some more. She normally uses the smallest battery pack made for this radio, stacking another small battery underneath the first one in her belt pack. That way, when the first battery runs out, she can swap to the second and then put the first one on the charger.

She asked the guy behind the table for the small battery size she wanted. He confidently announced that they never made a battery that small. She produced one of those on her current radio, which clearly was from the same source -- she'd bought it from them in the past. He faltered slightly and changed his story to being that they don't make that size any more. He then began to mansplain about how batteries work to the poor helpless woman. Since surely Lisa must be too blond to understand what a milliampere-hour (mAh) is, he condescendingly described mAh as "gallons of gas" and went into his spiel about why the larger battery was better, since the larger battery holds "more gallons of gas" than the smaller one.

I could have told him that using a non-Metric unit to describe a Metric one to Lisa was a bad idea to start with, besides the fact that Lisa used to work at Radio Shack, is an Amateur Extra Class operator, and surely knows plenty about this subject -- possibly more than he does. He also seemed to not have any idea why anyone would want to take two small batteries rather than one big one. Yes, the one big one has more capacity than the two small ones combined; however, in the application Lisa has, it's more important that she always have one battery on line, and if she had the larger battery, she'd still have to carry two of them so that she could be charging one while the other was online.

Lisa was very restrained. She politely ended the conversation and said she'd think about it and we left. She had been about to grit her teeth and buy the larger batteries, even though they are nowhere near as convenient, but the man treating her like an idiot made her decide that he did not deserve her business. That man has damaged his business by making it far less likely that we'll ever buy from them again (and we've bought many batteries from them over the years) thanks to the stupid sexist treatment. I was at least as annoyed as Lisa was.

Having looked through everything at the show, we walked back to the hotel. where Lisa removed the bandages on her foot. The swelling of her damaged toe had subsided sufficiently that she could go back to wearing a shoe on it, albeit an old one with a hole that allowed more room for the toe. Unfortunately, the way she'd been having to favor her led led to her pulling a leg muscle, so she was still limping, albeit somewhat faster than before. Also, the old shoe is white, which makes for an odd contrast with her good black shoe on the other foot.

We walked over to Broadway and looked through the shops, and made my annual Elephant Ear purchase, which Lisa split with me to reduce the impact upon my blood sugar. After that, Lisa found a new t-shirt for Kuma Bear that he'll show off at Westercon. (It's not easy to buy t-shirts for Kuma Bear!) Then it was back to the convention center for the 2:30 door-prize drawings. You have to be present to win for these. I've won things here several times, including a free hotel night and a bottle of local wine that we gave to kproche and bovil. However, our call signs did not come up this time, and we headed back out to walk some more as best we could.

This afternoon was time for our annual trip to the Ten Tiny Tees indoor mini-golf course. Lisa was on fire today, sinking two holes-in-one and finishing with an even par 20, while I couldn't putt to save my life, finishing with a 29.

Lisa couldn't go onto the beach, as much as she wanted to do so, lest sand pour in through the hole in the one shoe. But we went up and down the Promenade, watched the seabirds and people sporting about on the beach -- a beach-soccer tournament had apparently been going on that afternoon -- and read the signs about what to do in case of Tsunami warning (short version: walk away from the beach and up into the hills). After that, we got ice cream again. I once again limited myself to one scoop, and a blood sugar reading an hour after that confirmed that I shouldn't have had any more than that.

We once again retreated to the room to nurse our sore feet. Standing on the hard concrete floor of the convention center is not good for the feet, and we've been walking as much as we can, mostly on hard surfaces. We're now putting our feet up and considering dinner options. Some sort of seafood dinner seems called for.

It's been a pretty good day, setting aside the idiot at the battery table. The weather has cooperated (it's supposed to start raining again tonight, though), I seem to have applied sufficient sunscreen to avoid getting sunburned, and Lisa's injured foot is healing. Tomorrow, we go play pinball.
Tags: kuma bear, lisa, seaside

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