Hodge: Sharing is a mixed bag of sorrow and frustration

Kirk Hammill’s cheerful demeanor and lust for life helped create the wonderful energy of Jonathan Segal’s pub.

As fitting a true Hodgepodge column, here are some scattered thoughts with no particular connection.

First an overdue tribute to my friend Kirk Hammill, who passed April 1.

I joined a standing-room-only crowd of friends at the Grateful Fed last month for an evening celebration of Kirk’s life.

Hammill was a well known Kelowna figure and friend to many especially those in the music industry.

For a decade starting in the mid-1980s,  he ran the popular Jonathan Segal’s pub and restaurant in downtown Kelowna.

Segal’s was without question the “place to be” to enjoy the local music scene.

I was lucky enough to manage or work with a variety of popular bands that were regulars at that pub, including house bands Sea Cruise, Sea Cruise and Jimmy Shoes, The Influence and others.

Some of my most cherished musical memories of concerts or jam sessions took place in that popular hangout.

Segal’s is also well-known by the elite in the music industry as over the years many a touring rock star would pop into the local club for a late night after-concert jam or drink.

Kim Mitchell, Long John Baldry and Steve Earl are some that come to mind.

Hammill’s cheerful demeanor and lust for life helped create the wonderful energy of the special spot.

Bless you Kirk.

***

Like many of our local residents, I was shocked and saddened by the ferocity of Mother Nature’s destruction in and around Fort McMurray.

The enormity of damage and chaos caused by this huge fire leaves all of us humbled and concerned.

Kelowna residents who witnessed the 2003 inferno here can relate to the horror and heartbreak such a firestorm can cause.

It is almost unfathomable recognizing that experts suggest the fire, which engulfs the entire region, may take as long as four months to extinguish yet the area was deemed safe enough for those who wish to return and literally start again.

As shocked as I am by the decimation, I am equally moved by the caring, sharing, and outpouring of kindness by so many B.C. residents and other Canadians.

***

From empathy and sorrow, my heart and brain shift to frustration and anger over a recent episode involving a well known company.

Last month, Tez and I sought out a tax consultant in order to send in our taxes prior to deadline.

Due to health issues, our regular consultant was unavailable and so we had to look elsewhere.

Wanting to take no chances, we decided to hire a company we believed would do a fair job, and therefore made an appointment with H&R Block.

Sadly that was not a wise choice. We awaited our appointment, some two weeks later, preparing ourselves to the best of our knowledge with necessary paperwork.

Both the front desk young man and the woman who was our consultant were pleasant, personable and professional.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said in my opinion for the company itself.

Despite less than two hours consultation, Tez and I were handed a $600 bill for services.

At first I thought it was a joke but quickly the reality sunk in.

When I questioned the high rate, I was informed part of the reason was that we had booked our time in mid-April close to the end of the filing season.

Unhappy with the fee or the explanation but recognizing it had nothing to do with the staff, I contacted the local manager at the local head office.

He remained adamant that the $600 fee was standard for “late in the season” and offered no willingness to alter the charge.

When I pointed out that I was neither late nor overdue with my taxes, and had simply accepted the appointment date they had made, my objections made no difference.

When suggesting I was feeling gouged by his company’s outrageous fee, I was informed the $600 was based on their “standard rate” and told that in fact the April fee was a “normal rate” while from May to March customers received a discount offer.

When I suggested that his theory contained no logic since the term “normal” would rationally apply to the 11 months of the year and not one, I again received silence as the response.

So, if you happen to now be filing your taxes late, I strongly suggest you search for a reasonable price.

Actually, now that it is May, perhaps you may qualify for a reduced rate and only get gouged by the government instead of, in my case, your hired consultant.

I am confident that the Better Business Bureau and perhaps even the CBC may find H&R Block’s fees and rationale of interest. Stay tuned.

***

My apologies to whatever readers I might have recently led astray or sent on a frustrating and fruitless search through the phone book.

A few weeks back, I recalled how impressed I was with the work ethic and jovial personality of new-found friend and roofer Mike Pearce.

Somehow Mike’s last name came out as Pierce and not Pearce, which meant seeking him out for service may prove to be a tad difficult.

A big oops to readers and to Mikey.

Too bad I failed to communicate as precisely as Mike did in replacing my roof.

 

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