Viewing posts from November 2014

Giving Little Thanks

TurkeyFaceWith Thanksgiving coming up this week, we’re all talking about what we’re thankful for. Yes, there are the traditional things such as good health and safety for our families, friends and pets. But this year I’m concentrating on the little things, the things I make a point of noticing and being thankful for every day throughout the year, like good cell phone service no matter which way I’m facing.

I’m thankful for a good hair day which, for me, means that the little bit of hair I had on my head yesterday is still there today.

CSPoliceFaceI’m thankful that no State Police officer clocked me doing 85mph this morning on the Connecticut Thruway.

I’m grateful for my microwave. Now if they could only make it cook faster.

I’m very grateful for electricity. See previous comment.

GScookiesOLDI’m grateful that today I found where I hid the last box of Samoa cookies I bought from some Girl Scout months ago.

I give thanks that the new Twinkies will have a nutrition label. I can always use the laugh.

I give thanks that my car has heated seats because my seat isn’t heated sufficiently.

Forget American Express. At this time of year, I’m grateful I never have to leave home without thermal underwear.

I’m thankful that yesterday, for the very first time, I didn’t get on a subway in NYC going the wrong way.

CoffeeRadioactiveI give a lot of thanks for toilet paper. Do I really need to explain that?

I’m grateful that while the powdered coffee creamer I use has the same half-life as Uranium, it hopefully won’t have the same lethal effect.

I’m thankful that Chanukah is eight days. It gives me seven extra days to buy stuff.

And finally, I give thanks that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade won’t have a Vladimir Putin balloon.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

6 Degrees Of Desperation

GoogleWhenever there’s a question, the answer always seems to be “Google it.” It’s not the answer, but it is the first step toward finding one. There’s almost nothing you can’t find on Google. You can be sitting in your pajamas, or someone else’s if that’s your thing, have a question about something, tap into the world’s brain, and be that much more knowledgeable in seconds.

Well, yes and no.

ResultsWith rare exceptions such as word spellings and math, there’s never a straight answer on the internet. I can’t even get a straight answer if I type in “straight answer.” According to the Google tally at the bottom of the Results page, there are at least ten pages of “straight answer” answers. So wait. I have to choose my own straight answer? What kind of a straight answer is that? It’s like sitting in a restaurant, telling the waiter I need a few minutes to decide, then having him bring me everything on the menu.

HomerXRayAmazingly, there are some things that Google can’t answer like “where the hell are my car keys?” Or “what did I do with my glasses?” That’s an especially tough one. If I don’t have my glasses I can’t even see well enough to type the question.

The problem, though, is far worse with FAQs. There may be a hundred Qs listed and they may be FA’d, but none ever seem to come remotely close to describing what I need an answer to. At best, they provide a partial solution. And of course, several links.

LostThe purpose of links is to provide “further information” when, in fact, all they do is take you further from it. Why do we need links? Why can’t there be all the answers in one place like a dictionary does with definitions? By now, though, it’s too late for me to contemplate that. I have fallen so far down the rabbit hole that I’ve lost total interest in my quest and just want to return home.

2I have now established a two link limit. If I don’t have a sufficient answer at that point, I’m done. I take whatever information I’ve gleaned and make do with what I’ve got. That’s usually when I decide to get in my car and go to the one place that does have all the answers. The library. The amazing thing about libraries is that if you need help finding something you can ask a librarian. They’re always close at hand to help.

Libraries. I hope they catch on.

 

The Best Way to Start a Fight

Fights are ugly whether they’re actual physical altercations or heated shouting matches. I don’t see any excuse for getting violent unless some jerk in the parking lot steals a space I clearly claimed by having my signal on. Hey, even I have limits. So why am I advising how to start a fight? I’m not. I’m telling you how to avoid one.

Several years ago, I didn’t realize until it was too late that I had lit the fuse of a very cute woman I was dating. And I don’t mean that in a good way. We were at her place one night watching “Seinfeld.” I’m sitting there LMAO when I noticed she was as still and emotionless as one of the oysters we had for dinner in my vain attempt to get lucky. I stared at her for a brief while and asked why she wasn’t enjoying the show. She commented that she didn’t get why I thought it was so funny. Shocked, I tried to explain the “Soup Nazi” episode we were watching. Her face remained blank. If you have to explain a joke, or in this case, what is now a classic TV episode, all the humor vaporizes. So I gave up. I turned back to the television, off-handedly commenting that she didn’t have a sense of humor.

SeinfeldSoupNaziWhat was once a calm, adorable woman instantly became Godzilla unearthed. Her screech of outrage blew out windows six blocks away. How dare I accuse her of such a thing! She stood in front of me now, face blood red, insisting that she did, too, have a sense of humor, that “The Soup Nazi” was stupid and not funny. Frantically, I looked for an exit closer than the front door a couple of rooms away. If there was one, she didn’t have any lighted signs pointing to it.

Now I had been out with one other woman who didn’t have a sense of humor. It was one of the most agonizing dates of my life. I tried everything to get her to laugh. Nothing. If I can’t get a woman to laugh, then, yes, it’s possibly my fault or maybe she just doesn’t like me. But I have refined this technique since seventh grade when I first discovered that girls like boys who make them laugh. It was a great way to cover my own feelings of inadequacy. I didn’t tell this woman that she didn’t have a sense of humor, though. We just didn’t go out again.

ScaryManSo here I was welded to my date’s couch by the heat of her fury. I tried to calm her down. That’s what we guys do when we can’t find any real gasoline to throw on the fire. I sat back and just took it like a man possibly facing his last moments on Earth. She was an actress, she reminded me. She studied with the best acting teachers. She had been on a soap opera for years. She knew comedy. I didn’t quite get that last connection, and could’ve argued it, but decided instead to put the gas can down.

LaughingPrimateClearly, I had insulted my date. Nobody likes being told they don’t have a sense of humor even if they don’t. It’s dehumanizing. It’s one of the three basic things that separates us as a species: the ability to reason, opposable thumbs and a sense of humor.

That was the last time I saw what’s-her-name.

As it turns out, I learned two valuable lessons that night—one, to never tell anyone that they don’t have a sense of humor and two, if that person is someone I want to date, I’ll find out ahead of time if she likes “The Soup Nazi” episode of “Seinfeld.”

 

The Customer Comes Second

MBAAsk most consumers, business owners, marketers and even MBAs what the most important factor is in creating a successful business and they’ll most likely say “customer service.” I am laughing so hard my salad pizza almost came through my nose.

Sure, customer service is one of the reasons businesses succeed. Treat your customers well, and they’ll come back for more even if they have to drive a little further, pay a higher price, or wait for UPS. But that’s not the main reason a business makes it. My unscientific research, including having worked in retail and talking to almost everyone I know, has led me to conclude that success starts way before anyone walks through your door, real or virtual. Great customer service begins with great employee service.

It’s your employees who are the primary engine of business. They propel it from all sides while you’re behind the wheel. They’re the people you screened and then hired to help your business be successful. They’re the ones your customers talk to. So why do so many companies treat their employees like something you step in at the doggie park? Have you ever had great customer service from someone who hates their boss and their job? Me, neither.

PCRichard&SonLast year, P.C. Richard & Son, an electronics store chain, was closed on Thanksgiving. They probably lost a ton of money to their competitors and the employees lost Holiday Pay. This retail sacrilege, however, was a clever display of loyalty to show their employees how much they are valued by the company they work for.

By putting their employees first—not customers, not corporate profits—no one had to get up to go to work at 4AM on Thanksgiving or to end the holiday by missing out on the turkey dinner the rest of us not in retail were eating that day. Everyone got to enjoy the entire day—a holiday—in care-free celebration with their families …because the owner of the company understood the true meaning of the day. To all of his employees, the engines of his business and his own livelihood, he said “I give thanks.”

GrandmaSmilesThat’s not the only thing that happened on that day. People—his customers and others—heard about this generosity, this wonderful act of good will. They marveled at its brilliance and simplicity …even though this is how all holidays used to be. Nobody worked on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Day! That’s what the spirit of the season is all about. This businessman “got it” and all of his customers and potential customers knew it. He was also a big hit on the evening news—the national evening news (free promotion from the media on a positive note!). No one can prove that this decision ultimately increased P.C. Richard & Sons’ sales or got them more customers, but I’ll tell you one thing: when there are electronics or appliances to buy in the future, I know where I’m going …and my advice to you as a friend is, you should go there, too!

 

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