Shakedown

monopoly - moneybags

By Judy Berman

It is a squeeze play for more money. All the perpetrator lacks is a mask and a gun.

In the old days, such thefts took place by outlaws when robbing riders on stagecoaches or trains.

Now, it’s the banks, car-rental agencies and others who relieve folks of their money. Rather than luring customers in, they’re chasing them away.

My rant is the result of my bank using “statistics” to deny me a lower interest rate. In a letter, unsigned, the bank states that “our decision may have been based in part on a credit score.”

I told the loan officer that another bank has offered me a more attractive interest rate. In a standoff at the O.K. Corral, my bank does not flinch.

So I download my credit report. There are no red flags. No cautionary tales for the loan officer to “Run. Run in the opposite direction. Do not give this person any money.”

Instead, the report reveals that I have an excellent credit score.

stagecoach

My bank’s letter says I am approved for credit for the car loan. But it does not want to give me the reduced interest rate and repayment plan. Instead, the bank aims to go for $5 more a month – an additional $60 a year.

So, my bank decides to shake me down for $5 more a month on a car payment. It’s still willing to do business based on the original, higher interest rate.

Brilliant.

I’d love to meet the bean-counting genius that thinks it’s a great idea to wring a few dollars more from a customer when another bank is salivating for that customer’s business.

Short-sighted. Penny wise and pound foolish.

This also happened a few years ago with a car-rental place.

We turned the car in with a full gas tank. But we didn’t realize that the agreement we signed required a receipt to prove we filled it up that day.

Even though they could see the gas gauge read “FULL,” they dinged us for about $18 more.

Great Train Robbery - screenshot

They may have made a few dollars more, but they won’t see any repeat business from us.

What is it with companies that have lost any sense of treating their customers right?

We also never lose an opportunity to tell people to beware of what they’re signing.

Now, we have a decision to make. One our current bank should have foreseen.

I do appreciate the service they provided at the beginning of our banking relationship. But I’m not feeling very valued right now.

My next move? Undecided.

 

What would you do? Have you ever felt undervalued as a customer?

 

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Video clip: Shakedown – opening song in Beverly Hills Cop II sung by Bob Seger https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pk-W_i7Z59I  

Music Video: For the Love of Money by the O’Jays https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXE_n2q08Yw 

Main Photo: Monopoly – moneybags – our Hasbro board game

Photo: Stagecoach – Concord stagecoach 1869 – public domain. “used by express companies on the overland trails. Soldiers guard from atop.” http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/41/Concord_stagecoach_1869.png/799px-Concord_stagecoach_1869.png

Photo: “The Great Train Robbery” (1903) – screenshot. Author: Edwin S. Porter Public domain. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b5/Great_train_robbery_still.jpg

Thank You, Thank You

Best Moment Award

By Judy Berman

To be appreciated for what you love to do is to feel as if you’ve been kissed by both sides of the sun.

Recently, two fellow bloggers nominated me for separate awards: Best Moment Award and the Sunshine Award. My apologies to both for a long overdue, but heartfelt, thank you.

  • Marilyn Warner of Things I Want To Tell My Mother – said she chose my story, “Musical Memories and Love” for the Best Moment Award because she was humming the songs I included hours after. That story, which ran April 20, 2013, looked at my life thru songs that were popular over several decades. This award, unlike others, singles out only one post, a reader’s favorite “best moment.”
  • Jane H. Johann of Johannisthinking selected me for the Sunshine Award, saying “I have chosen Judy because she brings sunbeams to my thinking. Clarity always follows after I read her lines of poetry or essays.”

Now I feel like I am in the Sunshine and this is my Best Moment. I know what a slacker I’ve been, so I will leave it up to my nominees to follow thru – or not – as they see fit. No hard feelings.

Here’s the rules and my nominees for the BEST MOMENT AWARD: Nominate 8 special, specific posts for this award. These are ones that truly touched me, made me laugh, or were memorable. (I cheated. I chose nine.) Please check them out:

-          Arindam – Race of Dreams, Hopes and Needs. While he writes beautiful poetry, he also tackles concerns in his native India. http://arindammohapatra.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/race-of-dreams-hopes-and-needs/

-          Mark Armstrong – His illustration of a smoking sneaker from the Boston Marathon tragedy and the question “Why?” is profound and moving. http://markarmstrongillustration.com/2013/06/18/social-media-not-your-best-guide-to-truth-understanding/

-          Bronx Boy of Mostly Bright Ideas – His post on “Getting Over My Down Under Fantasy” made me laugh and want to shout, “No, Florida is a much scarier place to visit than Australia.” http://mostlybrightideas.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/getting-over-my-down-under-fantasy/

-          Darla of She’s a Maineiac – She can make the most ordinary event laugh-out-loud. “So Here’s The Thing About Walking.” http://shesamaineiac.com/2013/05/23/so-heres-the-thing-about-walking/

-          Kate Shrewsday –  Love her stories on her family, and the ones on history are just riveting. This is one of my favorites that combines both: “Picknicking With Martians.” http://kateshrewsday.com/2013/06/17/picknicking-with-martians/

-          Lisa Tognola of Main Street Musings – I still crack up whenever I think of this story that she wrote about a trunk show in “Revelations From My First CAbi Party.”  http://mainstreetmusingsblog.com/2013/02/04/revelations-from-my-first-cabi-party/

-          Madhu of The Urge to Wander – Her photos from around the world have opened vistas to me that I hope to see in person one day. That’s why “Beyond the Gates” is one of my favorites. http://theurgetowander.com/2013/04/04/beyond-the-gates/

-          Sue Vincent of Daily Echo – Her photos of nature, her dog, Ani, and her views on life are always worth a read. “Late Night Coffee” was one of my favorites for those reasons. http://scvincent.com/2013/06/16/late-night-coffee/

-          Jane H. Johann of Johannisthinking – Sorry, got carried away here. If you’re counting, this is number 9, but when you read “Nadia … my little doctor,” I know you’ll agree this is a beautiful, touching post. It made me think of my grandchildren and of my late Grammy. http://johannisthinking.com/2013/06/11/nadia-my-little-doctor/

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sunshine award - pinterest

Here’s the rules and my nominees for the SUNSHINE AWARD:

  • Include the award’s logo in a post or on your Blog.
  • Answer 10 questions about yourself.
  • Nominate 10 Bloggers.
  • Link your nominees to the post and comment on their Blogs, letting them know they have been nominated.
  • Link the person who nominated you.

Ten Questions:

  1. Favorite color: plaid (yes, don’t count on me revealing too much here)
  2. Favorite animal: dinosaur (because I don’t have to worry about cleaning up after it)
  3. Favorite number: 9 (Blame The Beatles)
  4. Favorite non-alcoholic drink: Does such a thing exist?
  5. Prefer Facebook or Twitter? Neither. Prefer face-to-face communication.
  6. My passion(s): My family, humanity, truth, justice, music and travel
  7. Prefer getting or giving presents: Giving
  8. Favorite pattern: Random
  9. Favorite days of the week: weekends
  10. Favorite flower: poppy – that’s why I love Claude Monet

10 blogs to nominate:

1. Kate Crimmins of Coffee Kat Blog. Her experiences working as a Human Resources executive and her cats are both something I love reading about. http://coffeekatblog.com/

2. Marilyn Warner of Things I Want to Tell My Mother. So much of what she writes triggers my own fond memories about my parents. http://warnerwriting.wordpress.com/

3. Island Traveler of This Man’s Journey. His photos and stories about family remind me to hold my own family closer. http://thismansjourney.net/

4.  Timethief of One Cool Site – is a source I’ve turned to on quite a few occasions for blogging tips and have appreciated the advice. http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/

5. Jen of Rumpydog – who cares passionately about animals, both domestic and wild. She works tirelessly to ensure legislation is passed to protect their rights. http://rumpydog.com/

6. Promethean Times – for its satirical look at the headlines. It bills itself as a “collection of oddities calculated to amuse, enlighten and horrify.”    http://prometheantimes.com/

7. Deb Adams – Gorgeous illustrations, delightful cartoon characters and Flash writing that will make you pause … and, go, hmmmm! http://adamsart.wordpress.com/

8. Shakti Ghosal – His posts on life and philosophy always make me think deeper. Very enjoyable read. http://esgeemusings.com/

9. Cult Fit – wonderful writings on philosophy, workouts and health. http://cultfit.wordpress.com/

10. My So Called Life Journey – a look at life and Dr. Who and much more from an up and coming writer. (Full disclosure: my youngest daughter, Jenn) http://mysocalledlifejourney.wordpress.com/

Pardon the very long post and my procrastination. These creative bloggers all do an excellent job in entertaining, informing and amazing us with their stories, illustrations and photos.

One Sweet Award And Paying It Forward

One Sweet Award - the Liebster Blog AwardBy Judy Berman

I’m a procrastinator. That’s the only explanation I can give for not immediately acknowledging that I had been nominated for the Liebster Award.

You might think, “Why didn’t you do this sooner? It’s not like you have to get all dolled up for the Oscars and walk the red carpet, fending off the paparazzi popping flash bulbs in your face.” You’re right.

“Liebster” (pronounced leeb-stir) is a German word meaning “sweetest,” “favorite” or “dearest.” This award, which originated in Germany, recognizes up-and-coming bloggers. Some I listed may not fall in this category, but I truly do enjoy them and recommend you give them a look.

In researching the award, I found that the rules vary. I, of course, chose the shortened version:

  • Thank the person who gave me the award and link back to their blog.
  • Copy and paste the award to my blog.
  • Reveal the 5 blogs I have chosen to award and let them know by commenting on their blog.
  • Pay it forward by awarding to bloggers I would like to honor.

So, here’s my official – and belated – thank you, Tina of Daysift, for nominating me for this prestigious award. My apologies, in advance, for breaking the rules.

Tina posts stories of family that kick-start me thinking about my own, photos of signs that will make you laugh and/or give you hope. Tina’s blog is always a treat. You can check out her blog at this link: http://daysift.com/

Here are the five blogs that I have chosen to receive this award. Please check out their great blogs:

1. Deb Adams – Art – http://adamsart.wordpress.com/

2. Jasmine Kyle – http://jasminekylesings.wordpress.com/

3. George Arthur White, photography and stories -
http://georgearthurwhite.wordpress.com/

4. Marilyn Warner – Things I Want to Tell My Mother - http://warnerwriting.wordpress.com/

5. Peter Cawdron – Thinking Sci-Fi - http://thinkingscifi.wordpress.com/

There are many excellent blogs on WordPress. These are just a few of the ones I really enjoy. Happy New Year to everyone. May it be a most excellent year for you … and for all of us.

A Lovely Award

By Judy Berman

The hour was late, and the news so delightful. Ronnie Hammer of Morristownmemos nominated me for The Lovely Blogger Award.

One Lovely Blogger Award

One Lovely Blogger Award

When you write, you are alone. When you publish it, you are ready to share it with the world. How wonderful to be recognized by someone whose writing I admire. Some of her stories have made me chuckle, while others have made me pause to reflect. She recently wrote about viewing old family photos and asking how we feel when we see our past through these images. It prompted me to write a reflection of my own, “A Look Into the Rear-View Mirror.”

Ronnie Hammer’s blog is at: http://morristownmemos.wordpress.com/

As a recipient of this award, I need to fulfill certain obligations. They are:

  • Thank the person who nominated me and link back to them in my post.
  • Share seven things about me.
  • Nominate 15 other bloggers.
  • Leave a comment on their blogs letting them know that they have been nominated.

The seven things about me are:

1)     I’m a former cops reporter.

2)     I’m a teacher by day, and writer by night.

3)     My best friend, my husband Dave, edits my blog – at my request.

4)     Alfred Hitchcock is one of my favorite movie directors.

5)     I love Nora Ephron’s books. I only wish I had discovered them when she wrote about the times that were a changing.

6)     I love all kinds of music; but, for me, no one tops The Beatles.

7)     Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” is more than a movie to me. It’s also a destination I want to return to for a future vacation.

I’d like to share the love with the following blog/bloggers and recommend you pay them a visit:

1)     Main Street Musings – http://mainstreetmusingsblog.com/

2)     MJ “Michael” Monoghan – http://www.mjmonaghan.com/

3)     Kate Shewsday – http://kateshrewsday.com/

4)     Good Humored – http://goodhumored.wordpress.com/

5)     Mark Armstrong Illustration –  http://markarmstrongillustration.com/

6)     Madhu  – http://theurgetowander.com/

7)     Katecrimmins –   http://coffeekatblog.com/

8)     I Know I Made You Smile – http://carldagostino.wordpress.com/

9)     Before Morning Breaks – http://barbfroman.wordpress.com/

10)   Being Arindam – http://arindammohapatra.wordpress.com/

11)   Rumpydog – http://rumpydog.com/

12)   Hugmamma’s Mind, Body and Soul – http://hugmamma.com/

13)   Leanne Shirtliffe – Ironic Mom – http://ironicmom.com/

14)   She’s a Maineiac – http://shesamaineiac.com/

15)   Subhan Zein – http://subhanzein.wordpress.com/

Please check out these excellent blogs.

The Envelope, Please …

By Judy Berman

… and the winner is … How often does any one get recognized for something they love doing?  I recently got a pleasant surprise when I opened my email. MJ “Michael” Monaghan wrote that he had nominated me for the Versatile Blogger award.

That’s quite an honor coming from someone who I admire. I’d like to thank him for his support, encouragement and comments on my writing. I’ve enjoyed MJ Monaghan’s stories because he has a wonderful sense of humor and terrific insights into life. His blog is at:  http://mjmonaghan.wordpress.com/

I began blogging in September 2011. Since that time, I’ve met – virtually – many creative, wonderful people who share my passion for writing and life. It was a delight to discover such a beautiful community.

If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger award. From the VBA rules, here is what you do next:

  • Thank the person who gave you the award. That’s common courtesy.
  • Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtersy – if you can figure out how to do it.
  • Next select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. (I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent.)
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award – you might include a link to this site.
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

I’d like to share the love with the following 15 blogs/bloggers and recommend you pay them a visit:

  1. Mostly Bright Ideas – http://mostlybrightideas.wordpress.com
  2. Ollin – Courage 2 Create – http://ollinmorales.wordpress.com/
  3. Everywhere Once – http://everywhereonce.com/
  4. Amiable Amiable – http://bighappynothing.wordpress.com/
  5. Love thy bike – http://lovethybike.wordpress.com
  6. hugmamma’s Mind, Body and Soul – http://hugmamma.com/
  7. Sarah M. Lawton – http://adventuremom.wordpress.com/
  8. Main Street Musings – http://mainstreetmusingsblog.com/
  9. Good Humored – http://goodhumored.wordpress.com/
  10. Deidra Alexander – http://deidraalexander.wordpress.com/
  11. Cdeminski’s Blog – http://cdeminski.wordpress.com/
  12. WatchingthePhotoReelsGoRoundandRound –      http://watchingthephotoreels.com/
  13. Chris Donner – http://chrisdonnermysterywriter.wordpress.com/
  14. arbohl – musings of a twenty something – http://arbohl.wordpress.com/
  15. Katecrimmins – http://coffeekatblog.wordpress.com/

There is one other I’d like to recognize. Five Reflections has requested that he be given no awards, but his poetry is exquisite. He can be found at http://fivereflections.wordpress.com/

Seven little-known facts about me. (I told Michael that under the Witness Protection Program covering me, I can’t reveal too much.)

  1. So now you know one thing about me – I have a warped sense of humor.
  2. John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” made a lasting impression on me about righing wrongs and speaking for those with no voice.
  3. Love the irreverent cartoons of Bill Watterson’s “Calvin and Hobbes” and Matt Groening”s “The Simpsons.
  4. My favorite suspense film director is Alfred Hitchcock, especially “Rear Window” with James Stewart and Grace Kelly.
  5. When we visited Paris, we went to many of the places shown in the movie, “Charade,” starring Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn and Walter Matthau.
  6. My favorite musical group is The Beatles and I believe I have nearly all their albums and CDs. We visited their studio when we were in London.
  7. Last, but certainly not least, my best friend is my husband, Dave. We’ve been married 27 years. We have two daughters (both married), two grandchildren and two cats.

A Ghost Sighting in Minetto

 

by Judy Berman

One crisp, clear November night when the moon was brilliant, a scenic ride along Old Route 57 turned into a terrifying experience for one traveler.

She came over what is Seneca Hill, and started down the long, long roadway which runs down the other side of the Oswego River, through the sleepy little village of Minetto, just south of Oswego.

It was so bright that night that the road was like a bright ribbon. The traveler was coming down, reaching almost the bottom of the hill. She thought she saw something outside the passenger’s side of the car.

She turned quickly. Looked. It was so pronounced that she had the feeling that something was there. But she didn’t see anything and thought, “Oh well. It must have been a shadow, a tree or something like that.”

The next November, the same thing happened.

This time, out of the corner of her eye, she distinctly saw something, turned and caught a glimpse of something … but, what?

The third year, she again made her way through Seneca Hill on that long ribbon of moonlight.

But, this time, there was no mistake.

There she was on the right-hand side of the road. A woman, who was in her late-30s, was running. She wore a nightgown, an old-fashioned nightgown. She had a little girl by the hand who appeared to be about 6 years old, also in an old-fashioned nightgown.

They were running. Running as hard as they could along the shoulder of the road.    The traveler started to stop and clearly saw the woman’s face.

She never saw such terror, never saw such terror on a human face before. The woman was frightened beyond belief.

So, she put the brake on as fast as she could and her car came to a squealing halt.

She jumped out. She could see them. They were still behind her, running up a hill.

She shouted after them, “Stop. Wait. What’s the matter?”

They didn’t turn and she thought, “Maybe they didn’t hear me.”

The traveler ran after them, but didn’t seem to gain any ground. When the pair reached the crest of the hill, they disappeared. She went to a house, the first one she saw. She knocked, but no one answered.

Shaken and confused, She raced back to her car and headed across a bridge to a state police substation

She told the desk sergeant he had to   come with her, something terrible had happened.

It seems like he moved in slow motion as he closed his book and put it down.

“Something has happened on the other side of the river,” she said, frantic and anxious.

“There was a woman and a little girl running … “

The state trooper broke in, “You say you saw a woman and a little girl?”

“Yes, yes. But we mustn’t talk about it. You must come with me. I know something terrible has happened. She looked so frightened and she was running up the top of the hill.”

“We’ve got to go over and see what happened.”

The state trooper calmly told her that he’d heard that story many times. He said what she saw people at the station called the Seneca Hill Ghost.

(An invitation: If you have a ghost story of your own that you’d like to share, please post a reply. No gory stuff, please.)

Thanks to Rosemary Nesbitt, who told me this tale, which is one of my favorite ghost stories. Nesbitt, a professor for more than 40 years at SUNY Oswego, Syracuse University and Wells College, also was a historian and author of 15 plays for children. She died in 2009. Nesbitt said others had told her they’ve had the same experience on moonlit rides through Seneca Hill between Nov. 5 and Nov. 10.