Wednesday, October 29, 2008

ADED - Can we teach older learners?

Class tonight was about "the older learner." Of course older people can learn. In fact, learning helps rejuvenate the mind. Actively using one's brain helps keep a person sharp. From my own observation, it seems like those who actively engage in learning during their retirement years enjoy life the most. While no single, generic thing has been identified as the reason older adults seek learning, I'd offer that it might be they've figured out that learning makes them feel alive and connected. After all, learning is living according to some.

As the segment of our population which is 65 years of age or older grows, as is suggested will happen by some sources, the question of how to improve life for our citizens begins to shift its focus toward an older audience. What should we be teaching our older adults?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Glynn Smith Van Repair

Yesterday I took my wife's van to the dealer so they could fix the power sliding door. My description was that the door wasn't opening and closing correctly. While there, I decided to have them check out the digital thermometer and fuel gauge.

They called in the early afternoon to tell me that had fixed the door by cleaning the electrical contacts and re-programming. If I decided to do the rest, the thermometer replacement would be $175, and the fuel gauge needed a sending unit which would cost a total of $450 for parts and labor. I said "OK" and then the fun started. He tells me that I need to have that fuel gauge fixed or it will ruin the fuel pump. If he'd kept his mouth shut I was thinking I'd go ahead and take the beating. Instead I get the distinct impression he's trying to justify an expensive part by telling me a lie. It's going to take some serious proof to convince me that he's not a swindler. The gauge operates on milli-amps and the pump on other words, the pump needs at least 100 times as much current. One can also assume the circuits are *completely* separate, but I'll check the diagram later.

Why I didn't check the power door before I left the dealership is something I'd rather not admit. I was stupid and trusting. You always check your bag at the McDonald's drive-thru, so why wouldn't you verify that something as expensive as a car repair was done before driving off? Stupidity.

At this point I should admit that I didn't precisely describe the power door problem, because I thought any idiot would recognize what was wrong. I told them it didn't open and close properly. You could push the button and it would open, but if you tried to drive after closing it a buzzer would go off. So it was possible that the technician wouldn't have realized anything was wrong...until he drove it out of the shop. But he had. And he had then turned off power to the door so the alarm would stop buzzing. He couldn't have tested it with the power off so I am rather certain he turned the switch on and off.

This morning I took the van back and told them the door was still not closing correctly. The service rep called me after a bit and says I told him it wasn't opening and closing correctly, not that the alarm was buzzing. As long as I am writing the checks, he really shouldn't be making excuses. Whether or not we didn't communicate about the exact problem yesterday is of no consequence if I am the customer. He didn't seem to appreciate my response, which was "Well the door may be covering up the hole in the side of the van, but it either isn't closing, or it thinks it isn't closing because the "door open" alarm continues to buzz telling me it didn't close." I wanted to add some four letter adjectives, but didn't.

Some period of time later he calls me again to tell me the repair will cost right about $100. I told him he was welcome to do that if it would fix it, but he blew my confidence with the fuel gauge comment. Interestingly, the part (a switch) which needed replacing cost $10.70. The labor to install it was $85. I'll describe my economic philosophy and how this relates later, but I'm glad to feel like the power door is finally fixed, even if I overpaid (2 trips, remember?).

I think I've got a wiring diagram of the fuel gauge circuit so I can be prepared for their return call. They do follow up calls to find out your satisfaction level with the visit. It's going to be most satisfying to take that call.


Over the last couple of months it has become evident to me that people can't hear one another. We've all become so accustomed to tuning in/out of the conversation that we can't hear basic answers. You ask someone what time it is; they answer 11am and you still don't know what time it is! This is not strictly tied to co-workers, husbands, wives, or kids. I've noticed the phenomenon by all of the above...recently.

I figured I'd remind folks that we should spend less time talking and more time listening. Listening to the answer of a question you just asked is simple respect, but listening to what a person is really trying to say in basic conversation would be darned useful too.

Boy am I behind. I figured that out when I got the following twitter message from Barbara Nixon:

Tomorrow is deadline for proposals for Int'l Listening Assoc. conference in spring. Have you submitted yet?

Far too many of us have been doing more talking than listening. There's an association, a website, and a convention. Cool, eh?