I can't tell you how often I'm inspired to writing from things I read in the comments here at SpouseBuzz. I think, though, that's rather the point. It's like a virtual family dinner, in which everyone talks, laughs, interacts, agrees, disagrees, and sometimes gets huffy (that would probably be me); but always comes back for more because, lets face it, we're family and no matter how little or much we like each other, we're there for each other. Because often we're all we've got.
Heather S. had a great comment here asking what our experiences with military-friendly, and un-friendly, companies were. Boy do I have some stories on that one! And boy, am I sure no one's surprised.
All in all, our family has been very blessed in our dealings with other companies. The most wonderful example I can think of was during my husband's most recent deployment to Afghanistan. You see, I'm what is scientifically referred to as humanus techno-idioticus. I pay my bills online, I use online catalogs, and for God's sake, I WORK online! But I can't figure this computer thingie out. To me, it's all some kind of mysterious magic with good and evil spirits hovering over my shoulder and bestowing blessings and curses with wild abandon. I have developed superstitious behavior that borders on the sacrilegious in order to deal with the day to day glitches and oopsies that seemingly happen out of the blue. Case in point - I baby talk to my computer.
"Honey, I've got a lot to do today. So, come one Sweetie-Weetie, just open the file for me. That's a good computer! Oooh! You're such a good computer! Here, have a cookie!"
When hubby is home, all is well. He puts on my software, he fixes the glitches, he talks sexily in computer-ese. I can call him, tell him what the problem is, and he will make sure that *poof*, it disappears. All is well in the world.
But when hubby deploys...
In September I had to make an emergency trip to California to take care of my Alzheimer's afflicted MIL. The problem was that I was going to be there three weeks, my desktop was coughing and farting as it was, and there was no way I was going to be able to take that thing with me. Throw it out a window, maybe, and spit on it's grave. But it wasn't going to be flying cross country.
I needed a laptop.
So I headed to Best Buy, armed only with a pathetic expression and a few reserved sobs. I had TRIED to research laptops, even emailing back and forth with hubby and several electronics circulars, but I was woefully confused. Hubby gave me some tips, which I wrote down, and read point by point to the salesman. I had tentatively broached the idea of taking some dude we know with me, but the technology realm at home belongs to hubby. PERIOD. That is his proof of necessity at home. We need him because I can't install solitaire with step by step instructions.
Whomever the Patron Saint of Military Spouses is (I've searched all over and can't seem to find one) was with me that day, because when my bedraggled and defeated looking self staggered in to ask for help in finding the laptop I needed - no more, no less- who happened to wait on me but the sweetest 18 year old who was just waiting to leave for Air Force basic training and was eager to put his "military family" feeling into practice. And luckily, he had a manager who, while a civilian with no military connection, felt that it was appropriate to go that extra mile for military families.
Not only did they hook me up with the exact computer I needed, they also went into the system and gave me the sale price that had expired the day before - which saved me 150$!
Now, I always go to Best Buy first.
On the bad side... Probably the worst experience we've ever had was with a landlord in the San Francisco area. Not only is the rent there insanely high (thank God for BAH), but finding a landlord willing to rent to us as a military family with children and a cat was, to say the least, difficult. It took weeks. And when we finally found someone, he hit us with deposits for everything under the sun, leaving nothing out of our dislocation allowance to cover cable, phone hook-up, or any of the other expenses moving entails.
As time went on, we noticed things. Things that pointed to the fact that our landlord was entering our house without permission when we were gone. He was also making a point of showing up unannounced. And he was making comments about our housekeeping skills.
Now, I'll admit that with four children our house can get cluttered, but I've managed to check out of base housing twice without hiring a cleaner and without a second inspection. And besides, with no damage involved it wasn't any of his business.
This matter came to a head when hubby got orders to Iraq in 2003 and the landlord kept showing up and threatening legal action for the "damages" we had done to the house. We promptly contacted the fair housing board in Berkeley, who advised us, and started taping and taking pictures and recording threats. We also had the house independently inspected. In the end, the landlord's name was put on "the list", whatever that is.
It was the LAST thing I wanted to be entangled in as we counted down the days for my beloved to leave for a war zone, and that nasty landlord was the last person we had to deal with before hubby got on that plane. And if you ever end up in the East Bay near San Francisco, let me know. This guy made no END of comments about how trashy military families are when he thought it would allow him to keep our considerable deposits (which the housing board forced him to return).
Of course, these are merely two of the experiences I've had with businesses of various sorts and their attitudes toward military families. I've had FAR more good experiences than bad, and as far as landlords go, two different complexes were willing to accept my family for less than the 6 month lease at the lease price and then bumped us up on the waiting list as "emergency housing".
Which companies have been best for you? Worst? Let's talk!