Counting to Ten

30th November 2021 I’m in high dudgeon today! I’m really annoyed with eBay, with whom I’ve been trading since 2005. When I moved house in 2017, it was very useful as I was downsizing from a house on four floors to a 2-bedroom ground-floor flat, so I sold lots of things I no longer had room for. Not enough though, I still have a small storage container full of furniture, books, and paintings that I can’t bear to part with because they were Glyn’s. It’s sentimental of me, I know, they’re only ‘things’ when it comes down to it, but I can’t get rid of them. Not yet. I digress yet again…

Yes, I’m mad at eBay. I’ve sold quite a lot over the years, of stuff surplus to requirements, but I’ve been very busy the last few months with other (more important) things, like writing a book, for example. Recently though, I’ve been sorting a few things out and, after trying to cram some underwear into an already full-to-brimming drawer, I decided to go through it and see what I could get rid of. I came across some bras, brand new and unworn, though unwrapped. Since I rarely go out anymore, I don’t wear a bra every day (too much information? Sorry!), so I have a surplus of them already in use. So, I thought I might make some room in the drawer and put the new ones on eBay. Within a week, I sold one – a slow start, but nevertheless, it was a sale. Then last week, two more were sold to the same buyer. Said buyer paid the next day, and the items were duly posted off last Friday. At the time of writing, (Tuesday) I don’t know if they have yet been received by the purchaser as I do free postage on my items and thus send them out as cheaply as possible, in this case by standard 2nd Class Royal Mail.

My beef is this – eBay is withholding the payment from my customer until they know that the item has been delivered, then they will pay the money into my PayPal account. I was perplexed by this and went online to ‘chat’ with eBay to find out the cause of the delay. The agent told me that because I have not sold anything on eBay for quite some time, payments on the next 10 or 15 items I sell will be withheld until delivery is proved, just in case something goes wrong. This is supposed to ‘protect’ me as a seller, in that, if something does go wrong, they will have to retrieve the payment from my bank, which may cause me problems with the bank. I pointed out my 100% rating, and in the sixteen years and over 2400 transaction history, the number of cases raised against me I can count on the fingers of one hand. ‘No matter,’ says the eBay agent, ‘it is company policy to protect our sellers’. I argued that it is more like punishment than protection. In any case, if I have despatched my sales items and have proof of postage, surely, I cannot be held responsible if they are delayed once in the care of the Post Office or Courier? I have kept my end of the bargain. Why should I be punished for something over which I have no control? Effectively, they are keeping my money just in case something might happen, which during my 16 years with them has never happened, not even once! ‘Sorry, it’s company policy, nothing I can do. Can I help you with anything else today…’

Dear reader, I was livid. Ok, in the grand scheme of things, it’s only about fifteen quid, and the estimated date it will be released to me is 6th December, two weeks since it was sold. It’s not going to break the bank. But when I thought of all the myriad users of eBay, who could be doing this to thousands of sellers – think how much money is sitting in their bank, making interest for them for doing absolutely nothing except to annoy the people concerned.

I started thinking then about all the small irritations that drive me nuts, but again in that grand scheme, they are not that important. So, I started making a list. (I know, I should be writing my book, but I had to have something to blog about this week, so here goes…) I guess my life is just so easy compared to some, that all of mine are ‘first world problems’, but I wonder how many of them you can sympathise with?

The entrance buzzer in the building where I live. My flat is on the ground floor of a block of six apartments with a communal front door and lobby. There is a metal pad of buttons outside, which serve as our doorbells. When pressed, they sound in each flat, and the resident can speak to the visitor and buzz them in. The trouble is, though it can’t be heard from outside, the buzzer noise inside the flat is horrendous – hugely loud and intrusive, and if I’m not expecting it, it scares the pants off me every time. Then, as you may remember, I have mobility issues, and by the time I’ve moved away the laptop table, struggled out of the chair and made it to the entryphone in the hall, the visitor has either given up and left or (in the case of many delivery drivers) has been leaning on the damned buzzer the whole time because they can’t hear whether or not it’s working, causing me to be angry and swearing by the time I can actually let them in. Sometimes, even worse, the parcel turns out to be not even for me, but in the time it takes for me to get to my front door from the entryphone, they will have left the parcel on my step and vanished, leaving me wondering how to get said parcel up four flights of stairs to the intended recipient. Stairs? Moi? Impossible!

Bad spelling and grammar. I’ve confessed on Facebook many times that I am a chronic Grammar Nazi, but I can’t help it! I’m pedantic, too, so that doesn’t help matters. I spend a lot of time on FB following quite a few pages and people, and if I’m not very careful, I can spend a whole day reading and replying to posts. It’s not a good habit when I have so much else to concentrate on, but, well, sometimes I just have to know how many notifications I have had in response to my posts or those that I’m following. I’m needy that way – it makes me feel important.

But badly written posts, or those using text-speak – I can’t abide them. I don’t even use text-speak in my texts; they are written in full and punctuated properly. I know it’s said that it’s not important these days, that youngsters (and some oldies too – you know who you are!) don’t use English the same way as they should, but as long as they participate, that’s what counts. I also know that many people have to live with dyslexia, and of course, they can’t help making mistakes – I’m good with that. But sometimes, I just can’t resist pointing out these odd comments, especially if they’re amusing. For instance, I recently saw an advert on FB Marketplace offering a pair of ‘Occasional Shoes’; I just couldn’t stop myself from asking ‘what are they the rest of the time?’

There’s a dual carriageway from Ainley Top on the M62 down to Halifax, and at one point, there’s a road sign where the two lanes pass an exit to a roundabout that leads to Sowerby Bridge. The sign says ‘Use Both Lanes’, which always tempts me to drive down the dividing white line all the way – surely they mean ‘Use Either Lane’? And the use of ‘over’ instead of ‘more than’ and ‘under’ instead of ‘fewer than’ has me grinding my back teeth. Likewise, the old favourites: their, they’re and there, and to, too and two.

It’s become worse since I started writing my books. Now I proofread and edit everything, from comments on FB to the books I read; I sit and think, ‘no, that could be written in a better way, just swap those sentences around,’ etc. Of course, I’m not perfect, and I make mistakes too. Grammarly is constantly telling me off for using the passive voice and ending sentences with a preposition, and at least 30% of the ‘issues’ are incorrectly placed commas. C’est la vie!

People who have to tell you every last detail of what’s going on with their lives. You get into conversation with them, and it’s all: “So I thought to myself, well that’s not right. And then I thought, yes, it is! So, I said to myself, ‘you’re such an idiot’, and then the phone rang so I picked it up, and it was my cousin who lives in Bognor Regis, you know, the one with the eight cats and a hamster, and she said….” I’m sorry, but I’m just NOT INTERESTED! But my mother brought me up to be polite, so I just keep nodding and smiling and praying for a thunderbolt from the heavens to relieve me from the boredom. I admit I tend to be a bit wordy myself, but when I see someone’s eyes start to glaze over, I do realise that I either need to shut up or get to the point. That’s the great thing about blogging – I can prattle on to my heart’s content, but you have the choice to continue reading or shutting me down, but I don’t know about it, so I don’t feel hurt. If only real life were like that!

Bigotry of any kind. I have been quite religious for parts of my life, you know, gone the whole nine yards, church every Sunday, getting involved in the church activities, but these days I lean towards the agnostic. I’ve never been evangelical about my faith; I just like to get on with my beliefs quietly and privately. It’s not that I don’t believe in a God, but I tend to think that an omnipresent deity with the whole world to deal with is highly unlikely to be bothered about a fat old woman in West Yorkshire, when he has wars and famine and man’s inhumanity to man to sort out. There may well be some supreme being somewhere who created everything, but thinking it might be some bloke with a white beard sitting on a cloud, with St Peter saying, “If you’re not on the list, you can’t come in,” like some angelic bouncer at the Pearly Gates just doesn’t wash with me.

Likewise, the Bible, the Quran and the Talmud, and other sacred texts; I realise they are designed to guide their followers how to lead their lives. But these books were NOT written by God – men wrote them, and as such, have human faults written into them. Take the Bible, for example. The Old Testament is full of fire and brimstone, and the different tribes all smiting each other just because they’re different. Didn’t one of the Commandments say ‘Thou Shalt not Kill’? But that doesn’t sit with the New Testament, which exhorts people to ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’. You can’t have it both ways.

I can’t understand people who believe that you shouldn’t do it or have it if it’s not in the Bible. I want someone to show me where it says that Jesus said it’s a cardinal sin to be homosexual. That’s man’s law, not Holy Writ. Likewise, that women should be subservient to men. Sorry, but that doesn’t wash with me either. Thank God (or your chosen deity) that science and history have proved that women are perfectly capable of everything the same as men are. And don’t get me started on Original Sin! How can generations of women be vilified simply because they are women? It’s beyond me. So are the awkward questions – if God created Adam and Eve as the first people to inhabit the world, then surely that means their children must have bred with each other – but incest is a sin too, isn’t it? (Not to mention the inherent dangers of mixing closely related genes). Or how about Methuselah being 969 years old? Seriously? Yet some religious folk just believe it all because it must be true – it’s in the Bible! Somehow, my religious friends always have an answer to these questions – for example, when I asked about the Methuselah thing, I was told, ‘Ah, but we don’t know how long a year lasted in those days, do we?’ Duh? But I’m digressing again.

Whatever your religious persuasion, if that’s what you believe – that’s fine by me. Just don’t try to bully me into believing it, too; I’m happy as I am being spiritual in my own little way. I have no problem if you want to follow Allah or Jehovah or Buddha or even My Little Pony – well, ok, not so much the last one – but just don’t try to make me follow your rules.

I DO have a problem with people who think any section of society is not worthy of respect, whether women, gays, or anyone else. We’re all the same people, under the skin – the human race. At least we are to start with, anyway. Regardless of colour, creed, gender, or age, every human being deserves the same basic human rights. Of course, I’m aware some people take those human rights away from others, like murderers, rapists, dictators and tyrants. Those people don’t deserve anyone’s respect and deserve to pay for their crimes, even if that means having their rights taken away. 

The lack of awareness and facilities for ‘persons of generous proportions’ – a euphemism for fat folk like me. But I’ve waxed eloquent about this previously and I’m sure you don’t want me to repeat myself. If you’re interested at all you can find it in my ‘Home Thoughts from a Broad’ blog from a couple of weeks ago.

Well, that’s it folks, for now. I can’t think of any more major irritations and believe me I’ve been trying hard! There’s a little one that I can definitely forgive, and that is when Toni, my cat, decides it’s cuddle time and no matter what I’m doing, comes and sits on me until I take notice of her. It is truly irritating, especially when I’m trying to write, but once she’s between me and my keyboard, and she starts purring, and her fur is so lovely and soft, I can’t help but give in and stroke her. Then the little madam will decide she’s had enough and departs, leaving me bereft of comfort. But that’s cats for you – it’s true what they say, ‘dogs have masters, cats have servants’!

That’s enough drivel for this week – see you next week!

LH

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By lizziehughesauthor

Hello! I'm Liz, a writer from Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire. I've lived here for nearly 20 years, although I'm originally from t'other side o't hill as they say around here. I'm from Barrow in Furness, which was in Lancashire when I was born - still, whether it's Lancashire or Cumbria, it still makes me a Northern Lass. That means I'm honest, straightforward and feisty. My current book is (very) loosely based on my family history, though the names have been changed to protect the innocent (and the guilty!) I'm hoping to publish in April 2022, or possibly earlier. Watch this space!

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