communication, complaints, rants

It’s possible to be outraged about more than one thing at a time…

I’m getting a bit of a late start this morning. Those new Comphy sheets I got on Monday are the BOMB. I didn’t think it would be possible for me to like them more than the first set I bought in 2015, but I definitely do. For one thing, I love the fact that they’re navy blue instead of pukey green. For another, they just feel better on many levels. They fit the bed better– the old ones were too big, supposedly to account for pillow top mattresses– and the texture is soft and smooth, but not too silky. I don’t know… they’re just nicer. And for what I paid for them, they really ought to be! Even Bill, who doesn’t care about comfort as much as I do, has commented that he loves them and they help him sleep better.

Anyway, those new sheets were inviting today, since our previously beautiful weather of last week and Monday has vanished. Today, it’s cold and rainy. After breakfast, instead of going to my computer to write, I went back to bed, watched a couple of videos, and started reading my latest book, which made me feel drowsy. So I put the book down and dozed a bit. And now, it’s 9:30am, and I’m finally writing something fresh.

I put up four reposts yesterday, which wasn’t my plan. I had put up one post from the original blog because I was still ruminating on what to write about yesterday. Then I noticed a couple of posts that were kind of important when I initially posted them in 2013 and 2014, and I realized that they were evergreen enough to go up as reposts. And in one of those posts was an old book review, which I like to preserve when I can. By the time I was done reposting and editing, I had spent a couple of hours, and I didn’t figure anyone would be looking for fresh content. Or maybe I just didn’t feel like writing it.

Later yesterday afternoon, I noticed a Facebook friend had posted a “peevish” status update, which appears below:

No disrespect to the person who posted this, but it’s entirely possible for people to be “in a stew” about more than one thing at a time. And quite frankly, I don’t need to be encouraged.

I am mentioning the above post today because I’ve seen similar sentiments from other people about how some people’s priorities are askew. Some people are passively calling out others because we’re discussing incidents like Will Smith’s choice to hit Chris Rock at the Oscars, instead of other issues they think are more important. It occurred to me that I’m a relatively complex person. I can think about more than one issue at a time. I can discuss more than one issue at a time. Though I have both of these abilities, I should be allowed to discuss what I want to without someone else calling me out over it. There’s nothing to say that you have to participate in a discussion about Will Smith’s slap if you don’t want to do that. And there’s nothing to say that I can’t discuss it with those who are interested.

I mention myself in this post, but I don’t think the people complaining about “messed up priorities” were necessarily calling me out specifically. I guess I just want to address how reading those statuses made me feel. It’s yet another weird aspect of our current online obsessed/social media engaged society that baffles me. How is it that we feel the need to chastise our friends, loved ones, colleagues, acquaintances, and perfect strangers about their priorities? What makes us feel like we have the right to criticize others about what they feel like discussing? Especially when they’re doing it on their own spaces? We always have the choice to engage or not, right?

It occurs to me that I am not the type of person who needs to be “encouraged” to be in a stew about anything. I am a card carrying member of the “Easily Pissed Club”. Last week, I was pissed off at USAA… and by the way, I’m still waiting for my new debit card, which they reminded me to activate a couple of days ago. It hasn’t arrived yet, cuz APO sucks. I’m still pissed at PenFed, because I tried twice to open a new checking account with them and couldn’t because of an “error” in their system. Twice, they said they would look into it and contact me again. They haven’t, so I’ve given up on that. Navy Federal took five days to tell Bill that his eligibility documents were too blurry, so we’re still waiting for them to approve him as a member, so I can also join. These are just “stew-worthy” events from my personal life involving my finances.

Then there’s the whole ongoing COVID drama, which Germany refuses to let up on. We were supposed to have “Freedom Day” on March 20, but most of the states opted to continue the ridiculous restrictions until April 2. And now, some city officials are saying they’re going to declare cities “hotspots” so they can continue the restrictions– FFP2 masks required everywhere, social distancing, vaccination checks, and tests. Yesterday, I read an editorial in The Local Germany written by a guy who had gone to Sweden and anticipated coming back to Germany after our so-called non-existent “Freedom Day”. In Sweden, all of the COVID shit has been dropped and, guess what… Sweden’s COVID numbers are supposedly not that different than Germany’s are.

The heavier masks and vaccination checks aren’t stopping the spread of the virus, and they’re keeping Germans and the rest of us who live here in a never ending psychological morass of fear and doom. While countries all around us are dispensing with COVID rules, Germany stubbornly clings to them. Meanwhile, those of us who are fed up with the onerous rules are going to those other countries for our vacations and, perhaps, picking up the virus there. Or we’re staying here and getting the virus, in spite of the fucking heavy masks, which most people don’t bother to wear properly, anyway.

A guy we buy wine from has been trying to convince us to go to Italy at the end of April. We probably won’t do it because of COVID and the annoying COVID rules that would make such an excursion less likely to be fun. Italy has relaxed a lot of rules, but thanks to the psychological trauma that has occurred over the past two years, I’m just not ready to plunge in yet. I think COVID is here to stay, and our best bet is to get vaccinated, take reasonable precautions, and live our lives. The endless restrictions are not effective and no longer make sense. And they take a lot of joy out of living, too. See? I can be in a “stew” about that, too. I’m sure a lot of people– the guy who inspired this post included– would give me shit about my complaints about COVID. But I mention them, only because he apparently has a problem with people who are discussing Will Smith’s altercation with Chris Rock.

And finally, there’s the war in Ukraine, which of course is a terrible situation. I have never been to Ukraine, but I would have liked the opportunity to visit at some point. I have been inspired and enchanted by the stories of courage that have come out since Putin’s invasion. I also know people who are personally touched by the war in Ukraine. I absolutely feel for the people there. But my talking and posting about it isn’t going to change anything. There’s not a lot I can do about Ukraine, except donate money and items like clothing and shoes for those who have been made refugees. I have already donated some clothes and have made a point of buying Ukrainian products when I can. And I can continue to hear the stories about the war and the people who are affected by it. I can do that, and still have an opinion about Will Smith and Chris Rock. Not posting about Ukraine 24/7 doesn’t make me a morally deficient person whose priorities are lacking.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty goddamned sick and tired of people shaming others all the time. I especially think it’s out of place on Facebook, which is supposed to be a place where people connect. Wasn’t it originally supposed to be a fun activity, reconnecting with old friends and keeping in touch with relatives and such? When did people decide Facebook was the place to try to make other people feel like shit for not having the right “priorities”? Maybe the guy who inspired today’s post didn’t intend to make me feel “bad”– and even if it was his intent to do that, he didn’t succeed anyway. But the tone of that post is pretty shaming, in my opinion. Who put him in charge of policing other people’s reactions to current events?

I think it’s okay for people to have different priorities. Wouldn’t the world be a very boring place if we all talked about the same things? Isn’t it better that we have differing opinions? Can’t we learn from each other by discussing things in a civilized way? I know I’ve learned new things from having respectful conversations with other people. But honestly, most of us don’t need another reason to feel bad.

I also don’t think it’s wrong to have a discussion about what happened at the Oscars. There are even a number of angles that can be explored. For instance, one of my friends thinks it’s possible that Will Smith might have been under the influence of something when he reacted to Chris Rock’s lame joke. She also thinks it’s possible Jada Pinkett Smith might have even instigated Smith’s violent reaction. I don’t know anything about the Smiths’ relationship, but I do know that Will Smith’s choice to hit Chris Rock cast a real pall over what should have been a positive and family friendly event. It wasn’t until yesterday that I heard about how Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli had a touching moment. Wouldn’t it have been nice if we could have heard about that as much as we did about Will Smith and Chris Rock? Isn’t it worth discussing that? As long as it’s all civilized, anyway…

Just re-reading my title for this post, I suppose I could just mention that I think it’s possible to suffer from “outrage overload”. I don’t need to be encouraged to be more outraged. I can handle that condition pretty easily on my own, thanks. And I don’t need more stress or worry in my life. I don’t need more shame, either. I think that’s true for a lot of us. I will continue to expect the worst and hope for the best. A little bit of fun, joy, and lively discussion is what keeps life worth living.

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advertising, complaints, humor, music, silliness, videos, YouTube

Lots of people hate USAA’s hold music earworm from Hell!

Today’s post is just going to be lighthearted ribbing, since it’s a Sunday, and I don’t feel like writing a long, sanctimonious post. As I updated in yesterday’s post, USAA finally gave me a “temporary” refund on the fraudulent Insomnia Cookies charge. And because that means I won’t have to call them, I’m now in a pretty decent mood. You know what that also means? I don’t have to listen to the hold music from Hell! Yea!

I am definitely not the only one who hates USAA’s “football cheer” hold music. I bonded with a fellow member the other night on Twitter over this little tune that plays, sometimes for hours on end, as members desperately try to reach a customer service representative. This morning, as I was telling Bill about it, I actually found quite a few Reddit posts about USAA’s jaunty hold music. A few people even uploaded it to YouTube. Check this out…

I can just imagine the person/people who composed this, coming up with the playfully snarky little guitar flourishes and perky USAA cheer…

As a musical person, having to listen to this kind of hold music is especially hellish to me. It’s very catchy, so it easily gets stuck in my head. All day, I keep ruminating over that droning, pulsating, sterile, pseudo-jazz. And because I’m almost always calling them because I have a problem and am irritated, the enthusiastic “USAA” cheer usually further sours my mood pretty quickly. In fact, as I sit here thinking about it, recovering from the repetitious “jazzy” sounds, I am randomly coming up with obscene lyrics I could sing to the “USAA” rah rah cheering. Like “bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, BUUUUM…. kind-ly fuck off!” Or maybe “bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, BUUUUM…. you guys suck balls!” I could probably entertain myself for an hour coming up with new “lyrics” to that hold music.

One USAA employee confessed that they try not to call USAA themselves, because they hate the hold music. It makes one wonder if their objective is to annoy people so much that they hang up. I think it’s entirely within the realm of possibility that getting people to hang up is one of their goals. Or maybe they want to make the music so annoying that the person is relieved to hear a human voice when the hold music finally ends.

Bill told me that the hold music he gets at work is also pretty bad. Some people on the USAA reddit thread mentioned CISCO, so I looked them up on YouTube. Sure enough, I started playing the below video, and Bill said “That’s it!”

This hold music sounds like it could induce seizures… but I like it better than USAA’s.

But the CISCO music could possibly be nice to listen to. Below is a video made by a YouTube musician who played it on his piano. I’d much rather listen to his improvised version than the crappy, overly synthed one above.

Nicely done!

This guy did a pretty good job, too… Makes me wish I had stuck with piano lessons.

Dayum… he’s got it going on!

But it’s not really possible to make USAA’s chanting hold music from Hell any cooler. It just so irritating. Here’s what one person wrote on a recent messageboard…

1000YearBan Nov ’21

For decades I thought the on-hold music at USAA was the absolute worst, most annoying shit I ever heard – until recently, when they changed it! Now I sob silently, keening for the innocent salad days of yore. The new, far worse music features what sounds like a football team chanting “U-S-A-A!” every 16 bars. Kill me.

The funny thing is I was recently on hold at some local place and got the old USAA music! I was wistfully nostalgic, like a political torture prisoner recalling the relative pleasures of an abused childhood.

And what is especially distressing is that USAA probably paid some composer and musicians a lot of money to create that diabolical audio torture device. Where did they get the money? From members like me… many of whom are driven crazy by the pseudo-funky rhythm and cutesy guitar riffs interrupted by the “football” cheers– USAA!!! Ugh! Here’s a link to a business that makes these little musical gems for credit unions and the like. Wonder what it’s like working there!

I wish I could find PenFed’s hold music. Theirs is not like USAA’s. It’s more like very sad horn music that sounds like it’s consoling you for calling them. It’s like the musical version of, “Hi… we’re so sorry you have a banking problem. We’ll cry with you while we put you on hold…” It’s on an endless loop, which makes it even more obnoxious. I didn’t mind it the first or second time it played, but having to hear it for several minutes is pretty terrible. I still prefer it to USAA’s ear worm, though. Several days later, the PenFed music is no longer burned on my brain. It’s hard to forget USAA’s music. And, thanks to Chordify, I can even play it on my guitar, if I want to. Maybe it’s time I ended this post and tried it…

Have a good Sunday, y’all…

Standard
business, complaints, money

Green again! But not “in the green” with USAA!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Take heed.

Yesterday’s post didn’t get any hits until the evening, when I posted an appeal to my Facebook friends to tell me if they’d seen the post. I was actually concerned that people weren’t finding yesterday’s rantings, because I usually get at least one or two hits on every post, even if it’s a “repost”. The reposts don’t typically get a lot of hits, unless they happen to be about a hot topic. For instance, I continue to get many hits on my reposts about Erin McCay George, as well as certain book reviews. But when I repost something quirky from the old blog that I just find funny or potentially useful, a lot of times, it gets ignored.

Lately, a couple of fresh posts have been pretty much ignored. The one I wrote called “Just lie back and enjoy it”, about Michigan GOP candidate, Robert Regan, has a grand total of two hits on it a week after it went live. I don’t know why that one hasn’t attracted any interest, since it’s about a seemingly misogynistic political candidate who actually said those words. But anyway, when I didn’t get any hits on yesterday’s post, either, I was wondering if people simply couldn’t see the posts on Facebook. A couple of friends confirmed that the post is visible. One even commented. Thanks, Karen! I guess sometimes I’m just not very interesting. 😉

I thought I’d offer a quick update on yesterday’s angsty morning. I called PenFed to ask about the status of my attempt to open a checking account. For some reason, they were still getting an “error” when they tried to open that for me. So they said they would have the IT department take a look and get back to me. I’m not holding my breath. I think we will look into opening a local account, since it appears we aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

There haven’t been any more “weird” charges on the USAA account, since that card is blocked and I’m waiting for a new one to arrive. I did do some scary reading about UberEats and Uber and issues with fraudulent charges yesterday. That caused me to do some deep scans of my machines, to make sure there weren’t any viruses or security breaches causing issues on my end. Nothing was found, so I guess one of the online purveyors I used had a security breach, which is bound to happen sometimes.

In the midst of all of that, Apple decided to do an update, so I spent a couple of hours updating all of my devices. That resulted in my preferred screensaver being messed up, and I can’t seem to fix it. It’s now only showing pictures that are several years old, instead of the whole library. This morning, I’ve spent an hour inputting and updating passwords and fucking with the two-factor authentication systems. That was a major pain in the ass. I think I’ve mostly got it secured, though.

Good to know… And just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

And finally, I’m back to “green” status on my Corona Warn app. Yep… it’s been two weeks since my “exposure” to COVID in Stuttgart, which caused the “tile” on the app to turn red. As far as I know, I didn’t get infected. If I did, it was a very minor illness. I didn’t go out anywhere, anyway, so no need to worry. I lead a very solitary lifestyle. It’s nice to see the green tile, especially since today is St. Patrick’s Day.

I’m surprisingly chill about the security breach on my bank account. When USAA shuts down my account for no legitimate reason, I have historically gotten very upset. But yesterday, when they didn’t shut down my account when I finally did get fraudulent charges, I wasn’t even that angry about it. I’m not sure what that’s about. I should be really angry, shouldn’t I? For some reason, I’m not super peeved, even though I just checked my account and see that one of the fraudulent charges has gone through. I mean, yes, I’m pissed off that there are lowlife thieves out there who rip people off. And yes, it irritates me that the one time I really needed USAA to secure my account, they didn’t deliver. But I’m not nearly as annoyed about this as I have been when I’ve had to call them to unblock my card because they decided that one of my legitimate charges was fraudulent. Go figure.

Anyway, I just had a chat with a USAA customer service dude named Tyler. It was my first time using the chat function on USAA.com, and I must say, it was pretty convenient. I definitely preferred chatting to calling them, if only because when I use the chat, I don’t have to listen to their fucking hold music. I asked Tyler about the fraudulent charges being posted. Tyler says the charges would go through until they finish doing their investigation. He explained why, and his explanation made sense. And as long as no other charges can go through, I guess it’s okay for now. At least I have the money to cover them. What else can I do? He did seem to lack situational awareness, though. USAA’s service has really gotten crappy lately. What a shame.

Speaking of hold music, PenFed’s hold music is especially bad. They play the same sad “dentist office” music over and over again. It’s really loud and a bit of an earworm. I was on hold with them for several minutes yesterday, and I kept thinking about how the music was bringing me down. What they were playing was the musical equivalent of a consolation… like, sorry you’re doing business with us. Or sorry you have to call us because there’s a problem. Except, I didn’t have a problem, per se, with PenFed. I was just wondering when I was going to be able to open a checking account with them, so I can move my account from USAA. Now, it looks like that might not work out, either. Perhaps it’s time to find another credit union. SIGH… I’ve had a PenFed account since I graduated from college. My sister gave it to me as a graduation gift.

Seems like customer service is universally sucking lately. I just now got a sweater I bought in early February. I ordered two pretty sweaters from Celtic & Co, a clothing retailer in the United Kingdom. It was my first time ordering from them, which I did because they have such nice (but expensive) stuff. I didn’t know the sweaters I chose were backordered for five weeks. So I waited a couple of weeks for the sweaters to show up… not that I’m going a lot of places lately. Finally, I emailed them, and they told me of the backorder status, which for some reason, I didn’t notice when I placed the order. I think it’s because they didn’t notate it on their Web site.

I just tried on the sweater, and it is indeed very nice quality. It’s also a little big on me, which is always a good thing. I am basically pleased with the product. However, I don’t think I’m going to order anything else from them, because they’re located in England, and that means dealing with customs and slower delivery times, even though they have a German Web site. And it would have been nice to get my sweater(s) when it was still winter. Spring starts in a few days. I’m still waiting for the other sweater I ordered to ship. Remember, I purchased on February 7!

Well… my guitar is calling me to practice, so I guess I’ll wrap this up and get busy. Gotta vacuum the house, too. I wish I had a riding vacuum cleaner. That would be a great invention, in my view. Or maybe a better robot version of a Roomba that can go up and down stairs.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, y’all. Hope it’s a fun day. And to all the haters out there, see today’s featured photo. 😉

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business, modern problems, money

“You left me… just when I needed you most…”

When I was a youngster in the late 1970s, there was a popular song by the late singer-songwriter Randy Vanwarmer called “Just When I Needed You Most”. I am reminded of that song this morning, just after I called USAA to report fraudulent activity on my debit card. Some of my most faithful followers might remember that on March 8, 2022, I wrote a post about exasperating issues with USAA involving “heavy handed” fraud detection alerts. For the past few years, USAA has been shutting my debit card down at the drop of a hat. Every single time they did that, the charges they were detecting as potentially fraudulent were legitimate.

This morning, as I was checking my bank balance, I noticed that I had three weird charges that I know didn’t originate with me. One was for Insomnia Cookies, which I have learned today is a cookie bakery chain in New York City that, evidently, delivers at all hours. I had never even heard of Insomnia Cookies before today, but I have a pending charge from them on my debit card. One fraudulent charge was for Uber Eats, which does exist in Germany, but not in our area. I have never ordered from Uber Eats in my lifetime. The third charge, which was evidently reversed, was for Uber. I have also never in my life used Uber.

None of those wonky entries tripped USAA’s fraud alert system, even though they were “in person” charges for goods and services obviously made in places where I don’t live, and have never told USAA I was, or ever would be, visiting. And yet, last week, when I was bitching at USAA for denying my legit charges in Europe, they were questioning a charge to an Armenian Brandy Boutique in Belgium that I have ordered from multiple times over the past several years. What gives?

Sigh… I relate.

I spoke to a USAA member representative at 5:30am, who began the dispute process for me. Now, I have to wait until the new debit card gets to me, which will take some time. And I have to change all of the payment methods for which I’ve been using the USAA debit card and use credit until I get the new card. I don’t like using my credit cards unless it’s absolutely necessary. I spent too long getting myself out of debt to feel comfortable using credit cards for everyday purchases, even though I can and do pay them off immediately. It is annoying that I’ve had to call them so many times about having my card erroneously shut down, but now they’ve missed actual fraud. Clearly, USAA’s security system isn’t working to its fullest potential.

Meanwhile, last week, I made a request to PenFed that they open a new checking account for me. While I was talking to them, trying to get the new checking account set up, their computer system went down. I was told they would send me information about opening the account. It never arrived, so I’m going to have to call them again today.

When we first moved to Germany, I told Bill that I thought we should get a local *German* account. He disagreed, and got one at the credit union on post. Now, he’s changed his mind, and we’re going to look into opening an account that can be used locally so that this kind of crap might be less of a pain in the ass for us.

Dolly Parton did a very nice cover of Randy’s song. Looks like she’s being joined by Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski.

A number of my friends have told me they’ve stopped using USAA. I’m beginning to think maybe that would be a good idea for us, too. This decision is probably going to be painful and inconvenient. We’ve used USAA for so long that it feels like dropping them would be like divorcing a spouse we’ve been married to for decades. I have been a customer since 1994. Bill has been one since 1984. But unfortunately, it looks like the time has come to reconsider this business relationship. Or, at least start moving some of our business to more secure/less irritating outlets. I actually wanted to ditch USAA years ago, but deferred to Bill, since he’s the breadwinner. I think maybe he’s starting to see the light.

I also checked the Corona Warn app to see if I’m still getting a “red tile”. As of right now, I am. The tile is supposed to expire today, though. I haven’t been sick with COVID-19. Or, at least, I haven’t shown any symptoms of illness, other than my usual asthma cough. So, I guess the bright side is, I still have my health. At least for the time being.

I might be back later with a rant about current events or something else. For now, I think I’ll practice guitar and walk the dogs. That will help me blow off some of this irritation and tension.

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complaints, money, rants

Look what I got!

Yesterday was a somewhat exasperating day. As I wrote in yesterday’s post, I had to call USAA because of their heavy handed fraud alert system. I think it was triggered on Sunday night, when I decided to buy some underwear from Amazon. I use Amazon a lot, but because I had been traveling and had set a travel alert, I guess USAA’s bots figured I shouldn’t be ordering underwear. I’m wondering what would have happened if I’d tried to use my debit card in France.

I didn’t realize I had tripped the fraud alert until I went to order some brandy from my favorite Armenian brandy retailer, another vendor I use pretty often. I went to pay for my order, which included a bottle of apricot brandy for a local friend, when I realized the payment didn’t go through. Then I saw an urgent automated email from USAA telling me that they’d “tried to contact me” and I hadn’t answered. I didn’t answer, because I wasn’t wearing my Apple Watch and didn’t have my phone with me. I didn’t realize I’d need those items for buying underwear from a vendor I use all the time.

I got really pissed. Why? Because this happens ALL THE TIME. Several months ago, when I was trying to book hotels for our trip to Croatia, Austria, and Slovenia, I got the same annoying fraud alerts from both USAA and PenFed. And because I live several hours ahead of USAA and PenFed, and it was the weekend, I had to wait hours before I could call them and straighten out the situation. It used to be that USAA would send me an email or text asking me to verify things. And I did notice that they sent texts this time. But again, I didn’t have my phone with me, because it was just underwear.

You can’t send USAA an email, so I complained on their Facebook chat. “Jason” responded with apologies, but I never heard from him again. Thanks for nothing, Jason. I can see that I did the same thing in October, when they blocked my card as I was trying to book lodging. I complained then, too, and even spoke to someone who called me while we were traveling. Fat lot of good that did.

Yesterday morning, as I was composing my blog post, I got an automated call from USAA. I answered it and verified the charges. The automated voice on the other end of the line said that my card was open and I didn’t need to do anything else. Wonderful. So I went back to the Armenian brandy purveyor and successfully completed an order… which tripped the fucking fraud alert system again. But again, I didn’t know I had tripped the fraud system, so I downloaded a couple of albums.

A couple of hours later, I was walking the dogs, and I got another fraud alert on my phone/watch. I tried to answer the watch while juggling my dogs. I had to give up, though, because it was impossible to walk the dogs and answer the phone. I checked my iPad and noticed that Apple had sent me a message that my card was declined. So I called up USAA and spoke to a very pleasant representative. Really, she was very nice… much like the representatives used to be, when USAA was still customer service oriented. I expressed my frustration at having to make international phone calls every time I need to unblock my card(s). I told her that I was strongly considering changing banks because of this issue.

I do have an account with PenFed. I used to have a checking account with them, but closed it because they charged a fee if the minimum balance wasn’t high enough. Last night, I started an application for another checking account with them, just so I have an alternative to USAA. But really, I think it may be time to migrate our business elsewhere. PenFed is also a bit of a pain in the butt about fraud alerts and shutting down access to things. I’ll have to call them later today to verify my identity because of the checking account request I made last night.

USAA really has gone downhill… and not just because of these customer service issues, but also because I suspect it’s a very culty kind of a place. I remember when Bill was looking for a job in 2014. He spoke to people at a USAA job fair and they asked him if he knew anyone who worked at USAA. He said he didn’t, and it became very clear that not knowing someone there was the “kiss of death”. It didn’t matter that he’s a retired veteran with about 30 years of service, or that he’s been a member of USAA since 1984, or that I’ve been a member for 27 years. I remember writing about that incident on my original OH blog, and USAA’s public relations goons stalked that post for months. If it had been up to me alone, I would have ditched them years ago.

Another thing I noticed last night was that, unbeknownst to me, Amazon put my underwear order on my credit card when the debit card was declined. That isn’t a huge deal, since the order was for less than $100, and I have a huge credit line. I’m just very particular about what I charge on my credit cards. I usually only use them for large purchases or travel. I did make a big payment this morning to cover our trip to France, though. I guess I need to remove that card from Amazon so they don’t do that again.

And then, after I straightened out the USAA blocking issue, I got an alert from Corona Warn, which is a German app where one can upload vaccine certificates and monitor the COVID situation in Germany. I also have a German app called CovPass, which is what I used exclusively when we traveled. We had to show our vaccine certifications at our hotel and in restaurants. The Germans and the French have different procedures. In Germany, we had to wear FFP2 masks and show the QR code, as well as our IDs. In France, surgical masks were okay, and after we showed our vaccine certifications, we were allowed to unmask.

So anyway, even though I didn’t use Corona Warn when I showed my vaccine certs, it was monitoring my location. And yesterday afternoon, I got a message from them, letting me know that I was exposed to COVID-19 sometime on March 2, 2022. It was either at a McDonald’s I went to when I needed to pee, or it was at the restaurant in Stuttgart where we had lunch. Either way, the exposure was five days ago, and we have been in France for most of those days.

Now… I don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19 at all, and I pretty much lead an isolated existence as a general rule. I don’t use public transportation, and once we got home from our trip, I have stayed at home, with the exception of a very short walk I took with the dogs yesterday as I was trying to deal with USAA. But when I got the “red tile”, as they call it, I went to the app to find out what I’m supposed to do now. I found information that was posted in December 2021. According to that info, I’m supposed to go home, check for symptoms, call the health department or my “doctor” (which I don’t have), get tested for COVID (supposedly free of charge), and if I have a positive result, isolate and share my test result.

I should mention that Bill doesn’t have Corona Warn on his phone, so he did not get an alert. However, since we were together the whole time, I guess he would get a “red tile”, too, if he had Corona Warn, which was silently monitoring me based on my cell phone’s location and bluetooth technology. While I understand how this works, it’s a little creepy that this app was monitoring me, even though I wasn’t using it when I showed my certifications.

The instructions on what to do are kind of confusing, depending on a person’s vaccination status. Because I am fully vaccinated, it’s supposedly not compulsory for me to quarantine. But the exposure happened six days ago, anyway. And if I hadn’t had it on my phone, I would never have gotten this alert at all, tardy as it is. I had to make a separate Apple account for the German store to even get these apps, since they weren’t available in the US store last summer, when I downloaded them. That was a bit of a pain, too. I have heard that CovPass, at least, is now in the American Apple store. I’m not sure about Corona Warn.

The tile will turn green again on March 16th. Fortunately, I don’t think we have any big weekend plans… Bill says he’s going to do the taxes. I’ll probably work on my latest jigsaw puzzle… or maybe we’ll clean up the backyard and bring up the furniture for the forthcoming warmer weather. And maybe we’ll enjoy some of the Ukrainian vodka I just ordered. My German friend says she knows a lot of people who get the “red tile” and never get sick with COVID. It’s just a very sensitive app that lights up if you’re even in the vicinity of someone who has tested positive and shared that information with the app. Obviously, not everyone does that, though, so really, I could have been getting red tiles for months.

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