Monthly Archives: March 2012

What Ads Don’t Tell You About Car Insurance Shopping

So I’ve been looking for insurance for the first time in my life.  Car insurance, to be exact.  And I thought it would be cake.  I truly did.  After all, the commercials make it look so simple! They all say the same thing.

“Go online for a quote!”

So I did.  And this is what I found out.

Sometimes, going online doesn’t do jack squat for you.

Out of the ten insurance places I checked out, nearly a third of them couldn’t provide me with an online quote.   Even after filling out all their online forms. I’m not sure why my quote was unavailable either, as the site didn’t tell me what the issue was.  For all I know, I misspelled the name of the car or something.  If it was fixable, insurance sites, you should have said so.

But the sites didn’t completely fail me. They did provide me with their phone numbers, so that I might call and speak to a representative.

Speaking of which…

When you call insurance companies, you must first fight through the phone trees of death and frustration.

This one is probably a no-brainer.  Most big companies love phone trees these days.  Some nonsense about being able to put yourself in the correct department for your specific issue.  That’s never quite worked out for me.

When I call a phone tree, I either get lost in the bottomless menu pit, manage to find everyone’s voicemail boxes, or wind up calling the wrong department–who then send me right back into the phone tree of death.

But I have gotten smarter about the phone trees lately.  Here’s two ways to trick them:

1) If it’s a button-masher phone tree, press zero.  Chances are, that’s the operator number and will connect you to a live person who can then connect you to other live people.  If that doesn’t work, disregard the menu options and press random buttons (that aren’t a menu option, otherwise you’ll be in phone tree land forever) until it connects you to a live person.

2) If it’s a voice-recognition phone tree, scream into it and make animal noises until it connects you to a real person. You must not make any sound that sounds anything like language for this to work properly.  Coughing like you’re dying of tuberculosis also works well here.

Here’s the thing.  Companies actually want your calls.  Your calls grow their businesses and put more money in their wallets.  If you’re struggling in their systems, after a few errors the phone tree will usually send you off to an operator or a customer service agent who will be more than happy to take your money–I mean, help you out.

That money thing? It goes double for car insurance companies.

Insurance company rates will skyrocket for the slightest little thing.

Got a ticket?  I hope you’re prepared to shell out a ridiculous amount of money for insurance.  Accidents are even worse.  I was quoted up to $245 a month for car insurance when I added an accident to the mix.

Oh, and also:

There is a dramatic difference in the prices offered by different companies.

My rates fluctuated by over a hundred dollars a month, depending on the company I was dealing with.  So do your research.  Shop around.  And don’t just go to Progressive either.  Do you really trust them to give you the best rates their competitors offer? Do you?  I don’t. Besides, they won’t factor in the little local companies, and they might just have your best deal.

But the crazy price differences weren’t even the strangest thing that happened.

Insurance companies feel the need to spam you endlessly with phone calls and emails.

I wasn’t expecting this one, though maybe I should have known better.  I know I just told you to shop around, and I stand by that.  But you must also be prepared to face the barrage of emails and phone calls you will receive fromevery insurance company you talk to.  Whether you go online for a quote, or face the phone trees of death, they will spam you.

I’m getting about fifteen emails a day from these companies.  My phone is always ringing with phone calls from the insurance agents.  It’s my fault really, and it’s a small price to pay for the cheapest insurance package.

I’m not sure which company I’ll go with just yet.  I’m fluctuating between a few still, since this is sort of a big deal for me–this is my first insurance company and all and I really want it to turn out well.

Adorapuppy

LOOK AT THAT FACE.

Your heart just melted, right?

Meet Princeton! Isn’t he just the cutest thing?  Yes, this is my surprise!  And a pretty darn good one, too!

To answer a few questions:

He’s about five months old.

We’re not really sure what kind of dog he is–but we’re thinking he’s a Sheltie (Shetland Sheepdog)/German Shepherd cross.

I’ve had him for three days now.

He was given his name by a random name generator, and I liked it so I kept it.  His name also makes him sound like a smart puppy, which he is.

He’s a rescue puppy from a local animal shelter.

Yes, you can see another picture.

Happy now?

As to how I got him…

I’ve always loved animals.  Always.  But I’ve only had one or two pets that were my very own.  Most of our animals are “family pets,” which means that mom and dad get to make all the decisions, and that I can’t take them with me when I go places.  And the pets that were mine were only mine by default–they were around before my siblings were born.

We’ve had a dog for the past five years.  His name is Sugar (bless his heart, he’s gender confused and a total pansy, but I’m not willing to admit it was his name that did it), and he’s a “family dog.”

Mr. Gender Confused, aka "Sugar."

During my freshman year of college, I said I’d take him with me after graduation, and every time my siblings heard me they voiced their disapproval loudly.  Which I guess I can understand.

So I changed my tune.  I started saying I wanted a puppy for graduation.  And my parents said, “if you can get a job to pay for it, then you can have a puppy.” I held on to that dream of graduation puppy-getting for three years.  And then I graduated.  But there was no puppy like I had hoped.

I moved back home, and it took me a long time to get a steady job after graduation, which isn’t uncommon.  But two months ago I managed it.   Secretary work, which doesn’t even require a degree.  But it’s a job, and in this economy…work is work.  (It is important to note that I do love my job.  So very much. Even if it’s not related to my degree.)  And almost immediately I started trying to convince my parents to let me get a puppy.   (Their house, their rules.  Yeah, it sucks sometimes.)

Surprisingly, the convincing was harder than expected.

Even with the four years of conditioning, my parents very nearly refused my graduation wish.  They would have said “no” indefinitely, if not for what happened last week…

It was Friday afternoon, and my sister was googling kittens on the internet.  Oh, come on. You’ve done it.  Kittens are cute.  It’s okay to admit it.

But anyway, she was googling kittens, and I pulled up the animal shelter’s facebook page to show her the cute kittens that you could own for yourself!  Who needs pictures of someone else’s kittens in cups when you can take pictures of your own!

Except she decided she didn’t want a kitten, she wanted to look at the puppies instead.  So we did.  And then I saw one. He was beautiful.  A German Shepherd pup with the cutest face.  We promptly loaded up in the car, yelling “we’re gonna get a puppy!!!” to my mom as we sped out the driveway.

Okay, so maybe we asked first.  And maybe she said to ask my dad before we brought one home.  Maybe.

When we got to the shelter, I found out that the cute puppy we’d come there to see had been adopted five minutes before we got there.  Sadface.  Not to be discouraged, I asked to see the other puppies.  And, eventually, we found him.  He was curled in a ball, shaking, terrified of the shelter and the barking dogs around him.  I held him, he snuggled into my shoulder, and my heart melted.   But he was new to the shelter, and the vet hadn’t made the rounds for the rabies shots yet, and could I come get him on Thursday?

Thursday?  Nearly a whole week away?  Well…okay.  I guess I can wait that long.

And wait I did.  The waiting was made uh…less important in my life by something I’ve yet to write about here–but I will, once that situation resolves itself.

And Thursday did come, in due time.  Princeton sure seems happy to be out of that shelter.  And I’m sure happy to have him with me.  He’s the sweetest puppy–all he wants to do is give you kisses.  He loves everyone.  He listens well, and he learns fast.  I don’t understand how anyone could abandon him beside the road and leave him all alone and defenseless.

Shelter dogs are just as good as dogs you find anywhere else.  They have the same needs, the same problems, and the same ability to love you unconditionally.  They aren’t always broken and vicious, just like purebred dogs aren’t always sweet and loving.  And they need you in a way that the breeder’s dogs don’t.

Unless they’re lucky enough to be in a no-kill shelter, their days are numbered.  The day I picked up Princeton, two puppies about his age were in danger of being put down within a day or two.   I can’t save them all, but I can save one.

If I ever decide to get another dog, I will get one from a shelter.  Because pet store dogs will be sold.  Their lives aren’t usually in any danger.  But shelter dogs’ are.

He really does seem happy to be here.
I guess he hasn't realized how weird we are yet.

I think I made the right decision.  I’m pretty sure he agrees with me, too.

Beautification

What is beauty?

Much of my existence has centered on this question.  As a woman, I am judged more on how beautiful I am to others than anything else I might possess.  Men are not drawn to a woman across the room by her mind–no, it is the cut of her figure, or the neckline of her clothes, that pull him to her side.

But this isn’t a tirade about men’s sexuality being of the visual nature.

Because the real culprit here is whoever decided that women weren’t beautiful enough on their own.

Right now, I am fake.  There’s beige powder on my eyes, blue liner on my lids, mascara on my lashes.  My lips are dyed red with gloss.  My hair has been ironed and curled into submission and hairsprayed into place.  Pink paint covers my fingernails.  And this is the definition of beauty.

Women all over the world will apply unnatural colors to their bodies in the name of beauty.  Are we not beautiful without them?  Women everywhere will tease, burn, chemically alter, and dye their hair in the name of beauty.  Is our hair not beautiful on its own?

Are we not beautiful enough as nature intended?

I believe we are.  I believe that a naked face is the most beautiful, because it’s the most honest.

Makeup is a wondrous thing.  It allows us to use our bodies as a canvas, to transform ourselves into walking works of art.  But for so many women, makeup becomes a necessity.  They won’t step outside of their homes before putting on their “face,” and some even feel very self conscious about letting their partners see their natural face.

We are taught to believe that we are not beautiful without make up.  We are told that men won’t love us if we don’t look like the fashion models on magazine covers.  Those of us who find romantic partners seem to slowly unlearn this, but for us single ladies…

We spend part of our days wondering if we were different, more beautiful, would we have a relationship too?

It’s so easy to buy into the lie that makeup is necessary for beauty.  That to attract a guy, we’ve got to look like those foundation-caked models in magazines.   If we’re not careful, makeup can become yet another thing that hinders our self confidence.

We can find that we are not capable of feeling beautiful without it.

Two days ago, I felt like I  couldn’t go out without my makeup for the first time.  Today, I’m calling myself on it.  I refuse to let makeup affect my confidence in myself, especially since that confidence is already fragile enough as it is.  I refuse to buy into the lie that I need makeup to be beautiful.

I will cling to my belief that what’s inside is truly more important, that whoever I will eventually (maybe) date will be attracted by my mind and not my body, clothes, or makeup artistry.

I don’t intend to stop playing with makeup, because face painting is fun! But I do have to reevaluate how I view it, and realize that it’s okay to show my plain jane face.  But I figure I won’t have very much time to fret over makeup because I have a surprise that will probably be keeping me busy for the rest of ever.

This surprise is also why I haven’t been posting lately…and I can’t tell you any more now!  You’ll see in a few days.  Hee!

P.S.  If you know what the surprise is–I’m looking at YOU, facebook friends–don’t blab!  SHH!  If I’d thought this through properly, I’d have kept it a secret from everybody, but I was too excited, and I spilled the beans, and now you guys have to keep your traps shut.  Mkay?

So….

So today I tried out the “quick post” option at WordPress.  I thought it was going well, until one of my friends (who reads my blog, thank goodness) informed me that I was unintentionally spamming my own blog.

….I am not very happy with the quick post option.

That being said, I uh, apologize for spamming my own blog.

And then apparently deleting it.

DANG IT, WORDPRESS.