A Lesson In Scammers

Some time ago, the art bug bit me and I started being pulled toward wanting to draw again. I draw very, very scarcely because I don’t like most of my drawings, and drawing itself felt very tedious with what I had. So, I had the idea to get a graphics tablet, a kind of tablet specifically made for artwork. Only problem was my naïveté rose its gullible head.

At first, I was hooked on getting a tablet called a Wacom Cintiq 13HD because not only is it generally believed tablet artwork is always better than mouse-created artwork, but Wacom is akin to Apple when it comes to graphics tablets. A lot of artists insist nothing compares to Wacom, and the huge prices (the one I link costs $800 from its retailer) are worth it. However, for $800, I could buy a desktop computer, so I didn’t exactly want to spend that amount of money on something I was only going to use for one purpose.

Amazon had a list of third-party sellers who I thought had it on offer for much less. Notice I said “thought”. I’ve had Amazon since 2008 and while I wasn’t exactly a regular buyer of theirs (mostly because I didn’t have my own bank card until 2012, when I was finally 18), I never had any trouble with them, so I thought nothing of it. I quickly learned there’s a different between buying from Amazon and buying through Amazon.

I bought from a seller who’d “just launched”. Turned out to be fraudulent.  Not only did the item never come, but it never even shipped. I’ve had orders where there was no shipping info and the item still arrived on time, but in this case, the seller couldn’t even be reached. Amazon cancelled my order and I got the money back. I thought maybe that was one bad seller, so I tried with another “just launched” seller who had the Wacom Cintiq tablet for even lower than the first did. This one got exposed even faster as a scam, as the seller’s profile vanished. Interestingly, it reappeared days later after I’d called customer service to have that order cancelled. I’m currently waiting for the pending transaction to clear, so the money is available to me again. I even went to my bank to be certain and they assured me since it’s pending, the money is still there, and the transaction will clear since Amazon cancelled the order and didn’t charge me, as charges, unlike refunds, are immediate.

You can imagine how much I kicked myself. I went on DeviantArt and asked for some alternatives. A very helpful user led me to a journal she made that detailed Wacom tablets, as well as alternatives to the expensive brand. She told me it’s likely those who insist Wacom is the absolute best say so because it’s the only one they’ve ever used. It’s no surprise I became so persistent in trying to get a Wacom tablet when it’s the one praised to high heaven, despite not having much more overall than the others. In the end, I settled on getting a tablet called an XP-Pen Artist 10S, which cost $300. Since it was eligible for free same-day shipping, I opted for that and, to my surprise, it worked! I ordered it at 11am and it was delivered to my door at 7:20. It works wonderfully!

I wish I could say that’s where this story ends, but it’s not. To help with the cost of purchasing the graphics tablet, I tried to sell my iPad, since I no longer use it. Now, I’m not so naive, I believe every buyer is genuine, but I still ended up almost falling for a scam because it was one I’d never heard of. Basically, if there’s any mention of shipping agents, cashier’s checks, wiring extra money back, or shipping to any place besides the buyer’s location (especially outside of the country), pass! I actually busted one scammer on my own, and he tried very hard to convince me he wasn’t a liar, giving every excuse in the book and changing his story a dozen times.

On to the scammer I was fooled by. This person wanted me to ship it to Texas as a gift for a family member of his, and since Texas isn’t international, I didn’t find it strange. He wanted to make the payment through Paypal, a service I’ve used for years and found trustworthy (though not so trustworthy, I’ll give it my social security number!), so I agreed. He even sent me what seemed like an official email from Paypal that the payment had been sent through, so I was ready to ship my iPad. I took it to the post office, boxed it up, and paid for it to be shipped. After I submitted a picture of the tracking number, as asked in the first email, I later got a confirmation one. I thought everything was fine.

It wasn’t until I was on my way back home I realized everything was not fine at all. I read over the emails and this time, I took notice of the email address. It was from Yahoo. That was weird to me. Why would Paypal use a Yahoo account? I searched for it myself and found something interesting Paypal’s help page. Paypal always addresses customers in their emails by their names. The scammer’s emails addressed me by the name on my Google account, which is a nickname, but I use my real name on Paypal. On top of that, there was no pending transaction for the payment. I called their customer service and after I described the emails, the representative told me those emails were not from them and suggested I return to the post office. I couldn’t go back right then, so I called the post office and asked them to hold my package until for two days, when I’d be able to come back for it. Thankfully, they did. In the end, all I lost was the $11.28 I paid for the shipping since that was non-refundable, but I didn’t care. That was a very small loss compared to losing my iPad. Just because I didn’t want it anymore didn’t mean I wanted to be scammed out of it.

When the scammer contacted me again, I furiously and unkindly told him to go away, explaining I caught him in his lie. He said it was a third-party Paypal service exclusive to Texas that people used because Paypal was too much of a pain to bother with. Even if that had a slight amount of plausibility, why wouldn’t the customer service representative have told me that? Paypal’s employees don’t know about another Paypal branch?

In the end, I learned two things. Only buy expensive items through Amazon, and buyers are terrible. Every buyer I had for my iPad was a scammer, and I tried on three sites: Craiglist, Facebook marketplace, and LetGo. I suppose I should consider myself fortunate in that I didn’t lose any money with the third-party sellers. I’ve heard Amazon, though they’re not perfect, has a reputation for not fooling around when it comes to scammers, and with how quickly they got those investigations done, I can believe it. But I can only imagine they think they have an idiot for a customer. I don’t blame them.

Spoiled Like A Princess

First off, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I figured I may as well throw it in since I’m posting on the holiday.

For someone who wants no children, I talk about them a lot. Then again, I have a strange knack for talking a lot about things I don’t have, whether I want them or not. Don’t ask. Chalk it up to “I think a lot”.

Yesterday, I saw a video on Facebook about a mother who takes her daughter to Disneyland several times a year because they have annual passes and live about 20 minutes away from the park. She sews costumes for her daughter. My first thought was, “Yeah, this is why I don’t need a daughter.”

I can’t deny it’s because I myself am female, but if I had a daughter, she would undoubtedly be a spoiled princess (or tomboy, if she preferred that)! If I had the finances and lived very close to Disneyland, it’s a safe bet she’d be going everyday. My only regret would be I couldn’t wear the costumes with her. Disneyland forbids guests over age 14 from wearing costumes. I understand the reason for the rule, but it’s one of the reasons I lost my desire to go years ago. Oh, well.

Funnily enough, my boyfriend also agrees. When I showed up him the video and told him the above, he replied we’d both spoil our non-existent daughter if we could. I was a little surprised to hear him say that because he does not like taking care of kids at all. The next thing he said was: “If I had the money, I would be spoiling [his niece].”

To me, it’s genuinely one of the cutest things he’s ever said. His niece is the exception to his dislike of caring for kids. Even I have to admit I love his niece, despite having zero familial relationship to her and only seeing her a handful of times, and she also likes me, to the point she was once screaming she wanted me after seeing me when I hadn’t been around her for some time.

However, it still prefaces why neither of us needs kids. We want the adorable parts of raising a child without the awful parts, but there’s no way to separate the two. It’s the reason I stick to fantasy and Sims games, and he sticks to being devoted to his niece. Children aren’t novelties. Dolls are for dressing up and parading around. There’s so much more to children, and they deserve parents who are willing to take all the awfulness along with the cuteness. I regularly hear raising children is 90% awful and only 10% good, but the 10% makes up for the 90%. I think it’s only worth it if you’re willing to accept those odds from the start, and even some people who are already parents aren’t. Ouch.

Still, I also think it’s ironic and a bit funny two people who do not want their own kids think nothing of spoiling our hypothetical child if she did exist. Or he. The mother from the video also has a son who she lets get in on the fun. I only emphasize “daughter” because the video mainly focuses on the daughter.

Disney: Life Lessons

I know children’s media in general has a reputation for being educational to some extent, if only to appease what’s known as the “moral guardians”.

However, Disney is my most favorite when it comes to (animated) films and recently, I found a pattern in their movies, particularly the Disney Princess line. All of their DP follow the expression about things getting worse before they get better. Right before the situation improves and the happy ending comes, it’s made to seem like there’s no way it possibly could improve.

And I like that.

Obviously, animation isn’t to be taken as realism, but it’s certainly true in life things sometimes do worsen before they finally improve. Sometimes, people do hit rock bottom before they finally move back up.

It happened to me. At first, I could think only think of two major things where that was the case – my job and my boyfriend – but upon further thought, I’ve been through it more times than I can count.

Before I had my very first job interview, I’d gotten myself trapped in another city due to following a shady job agency I was too desperate to see through. That was one of the days I genuinely came to close to giving in to the heavy depressive thoughts that returned. Before I met my boyfriend, I was ready to give up on dating because I’d gotten nothing out of it in that two years and it didn’t feel worth it to keep trying. Despite the “downs”, I’m very happy with him and he’s the best relationship I’ve had. I had never kept any steady friendships beyond school due to moving and I was prepared for high school to end the same way. I met my best friend in 11th grade and we’ve been friends for five years, and still are.

That’s not to say I’d be willing to repeat those worst periods again, or that I’m happy they happened. You’d have to kill me before I return to high school or anything lower. I’m happy there was something get out of living through them.

There’s another low point I’m anticipating this May, but I foresaw it years ago. I’m not sure what good will come out of passing through, but hopefully, I remain pleasantly surprised. The upside is this time, I have much more support than I did with any of my previous low points.

As for Disney, I hope they do continue this trend of things hitting their absolute worst before getting better. It may not be new or original at this point, but it’s definitely an important lesson.

Seen and Heard

I’ve talked about this before, using a different phrase, but after working in retail for some time now, I can’t help bringing it up again.

“Children are meant to be seen, not heard.”

The sentence ignites a great amount of irritation in me. I won’t repeat myself because I went into plenty of detail about why the similar phrase, don’t speak unless you’re spoken to, is outdated and makes no sense. But this one feels even more so.

Although it’s short, after the time I’ve already spent working in retail, if there is any age group that should be seen instead of heard, it is adults!

The majority of the customers are pleasant and most transactions go normally with zero trouble. Of the problematic customers I have had, however, I’ve never had one who was a child. Neither have my co-workers. When my co-workers talk about the trouble they have with customers, they are referring to adults.

That’s not to say the children are always angelic. Of course, I hear children cry and occasionally throw temper tantrums. Or they touch things and don’t put them back correctly. I won’t deny that behavior is annoying.

But it pales in comparison to the adult who yells at me because I can’t do their return due to lack of any proof of their purchase (receipt, phone number, and/or sale tags). It’s nothing compared to the adults who frequently come to the register at closing time with a large amount of items for purchase, layaway, or both. It’s not children who leave the aisles a mess, with clothes and trash strewn across the floor (our toy aisle is very rarely messy!).

The worst thing a child has done to me directly at my register? Chatter. Yes, the “worst” experience I’ve ever had with a child at my counter is them sparking up a conversation with me. How dare they speak to me, an adult, when they haven’t been addressed?! Actually, I’m glad they do. They’re quite cheerful and tend to be the bright spot of a long shift.

In fact, the only times so far I’ve heard children continously cry are when they are tired or otherwise uncomfortable, and they’re usually small children (under three years old). I remember one particular small girl who was wailing so loudly, she could be heard throughout the store the entire time she and her family were there. My curiosity got the better of me and when they came to my register, I somewhat jokingly asked if the little one was having a bad day. Her mother flat out said she was tired and needed a nap. Is it the child’s fault she’s not being permitted to sleep? Who isn’t cranky when they’re being kept awake?

Now, I do not at all think children should be treated like adults, and in general, adults are more mature than children. I do believe that. But this concept that a child shouldn’t be allowed to speak solely because they are a child isn’t one I’ve seen to have much merit to it.

If this also refers to interrupting adults when talking, again, that should apply to everybody. Interrupting someone is rude, regardless of your age. I don’t want to be interrupted by a 30-year-old any more than I want to be interrupted by a 3-year-old.

Classism?

I had a very interesting “discussion” earlier today… if you can call someone throwing around insults like an elementary schooler because you don’t agree with them a discussion.

It seems it’s considered “classist” by some people to suggest it’s best to wait until one can afford to have a child before actually having a child.

Now, I do understand how that statement can be taken wrongly, but most people who say this are referring to being capable of, at the very least, providing for a child’s basic needs – food, clothing, and shelter – before having them.

Apparently, however, even that suggests a prejudice against poor people. Never mind I’ve most often heard that statement from people who know the hell growing up without enough food to eat really is.

Before I continue, let me say this: I am well aware situations can change over time. This statement refers to those who do not have any children, not someone who already is a parent, or whose financial circumstances crumbled after their children were born. No, this refers to someone who is currently struggling and, for whatever reason, chooses to bring a child into their struggle and, as a result, struggles to provide for that child, or ultimately cannot provide for that child, because of what their situation already was.

With that clarity out of the way, I truly fail to see how suggesting it’s best to be certain you can fulfill a child’s basic necessities before you actually have a child is “classist”. Even if you can provide nothing more than basic necessities, you are still able to provide for that child. It’s the bare minimum, but it’s still enough to keep the child alive. Somehow, no matter how many times I explained this, it was read as me saying “if you’re poor, don’t have children”. Interestingly, I never mentioned a particular social or economic class. That assumption came out of the mouth of the people arguing against it.

Let me use myself as an example. I don’t have any children and I don’t plan to. If, however, I somehow changed my mind on that and decided to have a child… that child would die. That sounds morbid, but the job I have cannot even provide me with shelter for myself. So, where would I attain shelter for my child from? Now, I could provide food and I could provide clothes… but where would I put them? I could keep the child in one outfit, so that takes care of the clothing necessity, but that child will become hungry over and over. Without shelter, where will I store the food? Or do I buy food every time the child’s hungry since I can’t store it? And where does the baby sleep? Where do I bathe this baby? Uh-oh. This is a problem. My child has no shelter!

Now, knowing full well I have no capability of providing that child with something so fundamental, why would I go on to have a child? Answer: I wouldn’t. Because I know I can’t!

Yet, that’s “classist”. Now, here’s the trick question: Did I say I wouldn’t have a child because I was poor or did I say I wouldn’t have a child because I could provide food and clothes, but not shelter?

Time’s up. The answer is: Because I couldn’t provide shelter. Everything in that paragraph refers to the child’s needs and my incapability of meeting those needs, or at least one of them.

And that is the gist of it. If anything would prevent someone from providing the basic needs that keep their child alive, no matter what that reason is, to willingly bring in a child into the world while fully aware of that knowledge is irresponsible. My belief isn’t that poor people shouldn’t have children. My belief is anyone who knows ahead of time they cannot fulfill the most basic needs of a child shouldn’t go on to have a child until that changes. Economic class be damned.

However, let’s say for a moment this is “classist”. What difference does it make? At the end of the day, there is a child whose needs cannot be met by their parent(s). Somebody must feed, clothe, and give shelter to that child. If the parent(s) cannot do it, the child will either die of neglect or be relinquished from the parent(s) for that neglect.

There is a somewhat popular meme that says when people talk about getting a pet, they are constantly reminded of the responsibilities of owning said pet, but when people talk about not having a child due not being able to provide for said child, they are told they’ll “figure things out” or “God will provide”. I have heard more times than I care to count there is no “perfect time” to have child, but the idea of hoping things will just fall into place seems like a dangerous gamble to take with a responsibility that’s obviously much larger than a pet. If that gamble falls favorably, that’s wonderful. If it doesn’t, there will be consequences and the child will undoubtedly suffer the brunt of them.

Of course, in the end, it’s not my business and the responsibility of providing for that child is not mine. However, I think about this because, despite my lack of desire for parenthood, I don’t like the idea of any child being neglected. It is in no way fair to force a child into a situation where their needs cannot be met, and “life isn’t fair” should only refer to unavoidable events. Children should and deserve to be born into homes where their needs being met isn’t a worry.

To speak specifically about poverty, if someone is poor, but can still provide their child’s basic needs, there is not a problem. That child is fed, clothed, and has shelter. There is no issue here. If they are, unfortunately, too poor to provide those needs, there is a big problem. The message is not “Poor people shouldn’t have children because they’re poor.” The message is “People who know they cannot provide for a child’s basic needs shouldn’t have children because they can’t provide for the children’s needs.”

And if that is indeed classist, so be it. I care much more that a child’s needs are met than someone pointing a finger at me and screaming I’m classist. Of course, I would not tell any person they can’t have a child in the first place, no matter what their situation currently was. As I already said, it’s not my business and it’s not as if anything would stop them anyway. I only hope, for the sake of their child, they are certain.

Sibling Irony

Something I’ve often heard is that having siblings teaching children how to share.

As an (older) sibling, I can honestly say whoever started that belief deserves to be punched.

Having a sibling did not teach me how to share. It taught me how to hoard and hide my stuff because I didn’t want to share. I hated sharing anything with my sister. I didn’t become better with sharing until I was in my late teens and, ironically, didn’t have to share anymore because someone told me to.

But the effects of having a sibling had already been done and I genuinely feel like having a sibling, and specifically being the older of the two, is what contributed most to my lack of any desire to be a parent.

Like most older siblings, I was often responsible for my sister. I don’t solely mean babysitting. If she did anything wrong, somehow, it was my fault. I was expected to know better because I was the older sibling, but somehow, she never was, no matter how old she got. I was actually aware enough as a kid to point this out, but it’s not like I was ever listened to. The bottom line is I very much resented being given the responsibility of a child I had zero part in bringing into the world, and I’m positive merely being a babysitter a few times would not cause that feeling.

Of course, this varies. Some oldest siblings willingly go on to become parents, and my boyfriend is the youngest of his parents’ three children and doesn’t want kids, despite being the typical “spoiled baby of the family” (until a certain age). This came to my mind because I found it ironic and somewhat hilarious. What was supposed to teach me about sharing and being responsible became the biggest factor in why I want nothing to do with parenthood.

More so, my sister has a rather idealized idea of caring for children. She wants kids of her own someday, and I do not knock her for that, but she knows next to nothing about taking care of someone smaller than her. She once asked me how I couldn’t want kids and while I know this is a question sometimes shared by parents, in this case, it came out of the mouth of a 16-year-old whose closest experience with caring for a child had been looking after a baby doll. That question is annoying, no matter who it comes from, but it makes more sense out of the mouth of someone who is a parent and knows they like the experience than someone who’s never done it. Granted, one could argue I’m not very different in that I’ve never been a parent and am saying it’d be terrible for me.

However, there are two differences here. I’m talking only about myself. I’ve never said no one else shouldn’t want to be a parent. I’m saying nothing more than I don’t. The other is, as I said, my sister has never been responsible for any children, whereas I have, and not just her. I can remember being left to after a small group of daycare children when I was about 8 or under (yes, my mothet was present). Her idea of parenthood comes from what she thinks it is. Mine comes from what I’ve done, and with no say in the matter at that.

Today, as an adult, I don’t hate children and, to an extent, I do enjoy looking after them. There are times when I’d genuinely prefer a child’s company to an adult’s. Occasionally, children who come to my register with their parents will talk about something, and one child surprised me when she was so quiet while waiting in line, but started chatting with me the second her parents came to my counter. It’s rather cute, even if I have no idea what they’re going on about, and heaven knows I’d rather hear that than be yelled at by a customer for the fifth time because I can’t do their return.

But all of those are temporary. At the end of the day, the children are gone and I go home. I can have patience with children precisely because I’m not around them 24/7. It’s easier to remember they’re children and they’re acting like children than it would be if I were over-exhausted and hadn’t slept in three days. I’ve heard parenthood can teach you patience – likely because you have no choice except to learn – but it could also very well double my temper, which happens naturally anyway. “Doing your best” isn’t an excuse when what you do causes you to scar your child. I didn’t realize until I was an adult my own mother was practically winging parenthood the whole time. She tried, but her “best” was only good when everything else was good. If not, hell reigned upon us.

In the end, along with lack of interest in parenthood, I’m not interested in playing Russian Roulette with someone’s life. At least, I can argue I wasn’t willingly given the responsibility of my sister. That was my mom’s doing. But my child? 100% my fault. No room to complain about having to share then! I’d brought that kid into the world. I’d better share!

Four Small Words

Recently, my little state of NJ I call my home had a blizzard. Ah, got to love the strangeness of the seasons. I thought January was the dead of winter.

I was scheduled to work on that day and still had every intent of going. Some people didn’t exactly agree, however. No one in my household supported me going. Two questioned why I’m willing to endure a snowstorm to attend work, but not school (because my job pays me), and one even had the nerve to say something is wrong with me (this same person had to stay home from yesterday night because he got sick from being too drunk, and that’s not the first time; you can guess how seriously I took his opinion). The last of those three tried again to make his vague threat of not picking me up or dropping me off. A threat is not really a threat when you can get around it.

Yes, I know the weather was bad and potentially dangerous. I’m not suggesting they didn’t have a point (though they could’ve made it more tactfully). A small part of me felt bad for going because, as it turned out, if I’d stayed home, the manager on duty could’ve closed the store since I was the only cashier who came in (yes, we still got customers). Whoops! The joys of still learning how retail works. On top of that, she’d told me on the phone I didn’t have to come in, but I somehow missed that part. All I recall her asking is if I’m still coming in. If I’d heard her tell me I didn’t have to, I would’ve stayed home. Plus, I really would’ve loved to have stayed in bed like just about everyone else was probably doing!

So, why was I hellbent on going to work? I wasn’t. But I genuinely like being at my job, not so much because of what I do or how I get paid, but because being around my co-workers is a lot more pleasant than being around my family members. In the end, I worked for 9 1/2 hours that day (I was scheduled for 4 1/2), and I have no regrets because of one thing I got to hear from one of my (now former) supervisors: “I’m proud of you.”

To give some context, since the store was open, that supervisor decided to still come in. A broken down car resulted in him being two hours late, but he still came. I’d say he’s even more determined than I was because while a snowstorm wouldn’t stop me, my mode of transportation being dead would’ve been where I called it quits because I wouldn’t have seen another way. Anyway, when he came in, he came up to the register to see how I was doing and I mentioned I’d been there since morning. He already knew. I wasn’t surprised he knew I was there because he’d called the store three times and I’d answered every call. What I didn’t know was he knew how long I’d been there. Apparently, the first manager had told him. What followed was the quoted sentence.

It’s certainly not the first time that particular supervisor has praised me for what I’ve done, but in those situations, I’d asked for his opinion because I was anxious about if I’m really good at my job or not. On this occasion, I hadn’t asked. I was shocked to hear that come from him, especially since there wasn’t much of customer service to run since we had only a handful of customers. But it made my day and, besides the pride of doing my job, hearing him tell me that made enduring that weather to come to work worth the effort. Few times have I been so happy to have been born with a stubborn personality.

Maybe I still am crazy for going. Maybe people would call him crazy for still coming, in spite of having a broken down car. Maybe everyone who still worked that day is crazy for showing up. I can say with certainty if that ever happens again, I will opt to stay home, if only to let everyone else stay home too. But I really cannot say I wish it hadn’t happened or I regret I went. What he told me is going to stick with me.

Four small words. And they meant everything.