Christmas shopping and customer service

For many of us, the next few weeks will be filled with frequent stops to our favorite malls and shopping centers to buy those special Christmas gifts. Our shopping experiences can be greatly affected by the store employees of the places we visit. I have to admit that whether I will shop at a particular place or not is not necessarily dictated by prices or store volume, but rather by how I am treated once I enter the store. Since I live in a big metropolitan area, I have choices and expect the people at these stores that I visit to do their best to make any customer feel valued. A store’s reputation can be made or broken during the Christmas season and customer service has a lot to do with it.

The other day during a shopping trip to the mall, I encountered two different situations which are prime examples of both good and bad customer service. The bad service I received was something as simple as checking out and paying for my purchase. The checkout women had the personality of a telephone pole! She didn’t even bother to say hello to me and had this look on her face that she could hardly wait until her shift was over. After the transaction was complete, she gave me a forced thank you while handing me the receipt. At that moment, I just wanted to get the heck out of the store as fast as possible. I felt very unwelcome and unappreciated. Do stores not train employees who run the cash registers about proper customer etiquette? Is it that hard to teach a person to smile and say hello? The clerks running the cash register are practically ground zero for any store’s customer service. Those individuals who are not pleasant people should not be hired to run the registers period! I personally have avoided a local major retail store because of more incidents like this.

Shortly after I bolted from the store, I went over to another retail store and my experience was a ton better! A young female clerk noticed me walking in and greeted me with a warm hello and smile, then asked me if I needed help. I said I was just looking. She did not pressure me into buying anything; only letting me know that she was available for help. When I did have questions, she was eager to help me and seemed very knowledgeable about the product that I wanted to buy. When it came time to check out, another young salesperson at the cash register was just as friendly and personable. He went out of his way to ask if I found what I was looking for and even pointed out that the product I was buying was on sale and I was saving a certain amount of money. I was totally impressed by the store’s service and their apparent willingness to put the customer first. I look forward to doing more business with them in the future and will greatly recommend them to other people.

I realize that the Christmas season is rough on those people who work retail. I used to work retail as well early in my college days so I know the feeling many of those poor people have after dealing with customers for hours. Some customers treat the store employees like dirt and that is very unfortunate. There is very little that can be done to satisfy those jerks. However, being a good customer service person is really just a matter of knowing who your real boss is, the customer. A majority of people including myself, appreciate someone who is willing to go that extra mile and not treat us like just another person who walks through the door. We are the people who make or break your store. A lot of stores like to advertise specials during this time of the year in an effort to get bring people into their stores. Specials and sales are fine, but if a store has poor customer service or a bad website for its customers, what good is that? In this day of social media, stories of bad customer service can spread like wildfire. It can greatly affect any business and their bottom line. On the other hand, a store with a reputation of good customer service is where I want to spend my hard-earned money.


The Ferguson decison and protests

For just over 3 months, there has been a great deal of speculation over what might happen to officer Darren Wilson following his highly publicized shooting of an unarmed black teenager. Would he be indicted on murder charges or some far less charge such as involuntary manslaughter. Or just maybe, he would not be indicted at all. Monday night, in one of the most anticipated court decisions that this country has seen since the O.J. Simpson verdict, the grand jury in the case ruled that there was not enough evidence to indict Wilson on any charges. This announcement has not sat well with many folks who have expressed their outrage in many protests, not only in Ferguson, but in many cities around the country. While I understand the emotions surrounding this incident, I have to strongly disagree with the opinions of those protesting the decision. I applaud the members of the grand jury who had the courage to make this rather difficult decision.

It is very unfortunate that we have become a pitch fork society of making judgements without knowing all of the facts. Apparently, many people must have some sort of secret powers which put them exactly at the spot of the crime. They know exactly what happened even without being there physically. I wish I had their psychic powers! A white cop shoots an unarmed black teenager; it must be a racist killing! The officer surely must have shot this poor kid because of the color of his skin. Many people jumped to conclusions on this incident including several high ranking officials of the government.

The good thing about this country (well at least for now) is that we have a justice system which considers all the facts involved with the shooting. We do not have a lynch mob rule for trying cases. The grand jury was presented with much evidence including over 70 hours of testimony, autopsy reports and good forensic evidence. It all proved that officer Wilson was very justified in what he did. The evidence clearly shows that the teenager killed, Michael Brown, assaulted the officer, tried to grab his gun and did not follow the officer’s directions one ounce. Do those protesters and people who are crying about this decision even consider being in the officer’s shoes for one minute? The officer’s life was greatly in danger. Who is to say that Brown would have grabbed the gun and shot Wilson several times? If Brown had just OBEYED orders instead of acting like some punk, he would be alive today.

Those people who are going out and protesting this decision are extremely ignorant. Justice was clearly served. The facts and the forensic evidence are overwhelming in support of officer Wilson. It is unfortunate that many of the protesters in Ferguson had to resort to violence in order to get out their frustrations. What exactly does that prove? A woman who worked very hard for years to start her own business had those dreams go up in smoke when those protesters burnt down her building along with several others. People have absolutely no respect and will not garner any sympathy for the protester’s causes when they act like a bunch of hooligans!

I am hearing a lot of talk about how the justice system is broken and this incident will be a spark for change. So what exactly needs to be changed? Perhaps we need more people to quite acting like thugs and respect people of authority. I know this sounds very simple, but it all starts with the family upbringing. It is no secret that people that normally do crime are brought up in very broken families and are not taught to respect authority figures. How can a kid begin to even grow up and respect police when their parents are bashing the cops, the songs they listen to talk about killing cops and so on?

Suppose for a minute that Wilson was a black cop, we would even hear about this incident? Of course not! The number of blacks being killed by other blacks are at some very high levels yet that often gets neglected in the media. Why aren’t people protesting to stop that kind of violence as hard and with as much vengeance as they are with this incident? I would like someone to tell me why? Something tells me this has more to do with politics than with justice. In the meantime, I hope people will just accept this decision and move on.

My 2014 Turkey of Year Awards

Well ladies and gentlemen, it is that time of the year again. Thanksgiving, in my opinion, is far more than just another holiday when we sit down with family members and fill our stomachs with loads of turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, followed by a nice lengthy nap! It is also a time for remembrance; for those many things in life that we can be thankful for. It is also a great time to honor those individuals who have made complete fools of themselves. In any given year, one does not have to look hard to find a turkey, and I am not talking about those birds that we like to feast on. I am talking about the foolish behavior by many people, especially celebrities. There are always those professional athletes who make complete fools of themselves off the field of play. Let’s not forget the many politicians who say the most idiotic things. Of course, there are many Hollywood actors and actresses and famous singers who always seem to be in the mix for my award as well. I want to thank my committee for all the hard work and dedication that they have put into making this award possible. Special thanks also goes out to the Minneapolis, St. Paul airport officials for finding room so that our climate change activists can land their jets and make it to our ceremony. Before I go any further, I would like to remind people of a few stipulations concerning this award. First of all, the president of the United States is exempt from receiving this award. My committee not only has too much respect for the position, but also is afraid of losing their tax exempt status. Second of all, the author of this blog is also exempt. I simply cannot give my myself this much coveted award no matter how much of a fool I was during the past year, in some cases a big fool! Without any further delay, let’s get on with the proceedings.

I would like to begin by recognizing those individuals who were given serious consideration, but fell just short:

1) AL Sharpton- Naturally, Sharpton jumped to conclusions in the Ferguson case before all the facts came out. Just another high-profile agitator that should just shut his mouth and go away.

2) Richard Sherman- His post game rant after the NFC championship game was totally classless. There is a thing called being a good winner and Sherman was far from being a good winner in his disgusting interview. I thought for a minute that I was watching professional wrestling!

3) Hillary Clinton- Politicians always say stupid things and Clinton is no different. During a speech, Clinton told the audience that corporations do not create jobs. Huh? Really? Corporations do create jobs Mrs. Clinton and plenty of them. Maybe she needs to take a class in Economics 101 before she even considers running for president.

4) Ray Rice- Another NFL thug who got his just due. Engaging in domestic violence is one way of ruining your career, being caught on video tape is a sure way of ruining your career.

5) Adrian Peterson- Whipping a defenseless 4 year-old kid with a stick is totally over the top child discipline. He is lucky not to have a 5 year or longer prison sentence for child abuse.

6) John Kerry- Maybe Kerry has been spending too much time with Al Gore. During a speech to college students this year, Kerry labeled climate change as just a big of a threat to the world as terrorism. Seriously? The threat of terrorism causes me far more worry in everyday life than some claim of climate change.

At this time, I would like to announce the finalists for the award:

1) Dennis Rodman- Rodman sure likes to visit his pal over in North Korea, Kim Jong. North Korea is on our list of terrorist states and Jong is one of the evilest men in the world and a clear enemy of the United States. What is next? Maybe Rodman should visit the ISIS leaders and become pals with them. Or maybe we should just give him a one way ticket out of this country!

2) Jonathon Gruber- I happen to partially agree with Gruber that American voters are stupid, there are certainly many who are. His revelations about Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act might come back to haunt the President when a ruling on the exchanges takes this summer. It is one thing to be devious, but don’t brag about it especially when it pertains to a law affecting 1/6th of the economy.

3) Leonardo DiCaprio- Besides being a famous actor, DiCaprio is also an outspoken environmentalist and a member of Al Gore’s climate change club. He was a guest speaker at this year’s UN climate change summit and has been known to fly around the country in his jet speaking about the threats of climate change. I don’t have a problem with a person being passionate about his or her cause, but please back up your cause by not flying around in a jet! Just another hypocritical climate change activist.

4) Donald Sterling- As many of you can remember, Sterling, the former owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers caused quite a stir when he was secretly recorded as saying that he does not want his girlfriend showing up at his games with black guys. Imagine that! There are many black guys around the league and on his team who greatly help pad his fat wallet. The NBA is a league with a very high percentage of black players. Why would an owner insult many of his employees like that! Purely stupid!!

5) Roger Goodell- The commissioner of perhaps the most popular sports league in the world has had his share of mishaps this year. His handling of the Ray Rice situation was downright deplorable. He doesn’t seem to have a clue with how to handle player safety that is increasingly becoming a problem in the league. In Goodell’s own little world, the NFL should become a touch football league. And let’s not forget all the little politically correct crap that is becoming part of the league. Goodell is slowly becoming a pimple on a great league and would be well suited to just resign.

And the grand prize winner is……………………………… Donald Sterling. For the first time in the history of the award, he was the unanimous pick of the committee. Congratulations Mr. Sterling on receiving the trophy along with a huge turkey drumstick. In addition, Mr. Sterling is awarded free tickets to sit with Spike Lee at any Knicks game of his choice. Thanks for coming everyone and see you next year. Hope everyone has a very happy Thanksgiving.

The President’s (King’s ?) unilateral action on immigration reform

Like many good politicians who can sell snow to an Eskimo in the dead of winter, President Obama laid out his case for immigration reform in a 15 minute speech to the nation on Thursday night. He even went as far as bringing up scripture in his speech and constantly stressed his plan was the right thing to do. “How can we possible abandon all those poor children and people who have worked so hard” was a common phrase that I heard far too often in his speech. His plan is certainly one that can be debated, but how can you possible defend his extreme use of executive action in granting short-term amnesty to millions of people who have come to this country illegally? What does this say to the millions of other people in foreign countries who want to come here? What the heck, I will just come here illegally, stay a few years, get bailed out and become a U.S citizen! What incentive will there be for any foreign national to play by the rules when trying to enter this country?

Immigration policy should not be a game of rocket science and controversy like some of these politicians are making it out to be. There are certain guidelines and rules for one to follow if he or she wants to legally work in this country and become a United States citizen. My grandparents did when they came over to the United States and so should every one else. We have rules to follow, yet some people feel like they are above our laws. The fact that there are more than 11 million illegal aliens in this country is very disturbing. That tells me that these so-called rules of ours are not being properly enforced. Imagine if another 10 million people decided that are going to enter the country illegally? How can we possibly support the potential wave of new illegals in? The short answer is we could not. We simply do not have the resources or that many high paying jobs for those people to fully support their families. There are only a finite number of good paying jobs in this country. Now those illegals will be fighting for those jobs along with the people who have actually entered this country legally; that is totally unfair to those who have followed the rules. In addition, most of those illegals are seeking low paying jobs which will only ensure more government benefits to them and their families. Yes, more welfare and food stamp recipients for the tax payers to fund! Sure, there is always the case of some person who the President pointed out during his speech that will achieve greatness, but what percentage of illegals really make it big in this country and do not have to depend on long-term government assistance?

I certainly get the argument that this type of executive action has been done before by other presidents, but never to this degree. This announcement affects millions of people, not just a select group of people. I do not care if the President is a Republican or a Democrat, there is a process for making laws and the President is NOT to make the laws of the land! This is the job of the Senate and the House. Much like the people who illegally enter this country by not following our rules and laws, the President is also not following the rules that were made in the Constitution. Our founding fathers made these laws for separation of powers to prevent a monarchy from happening. They must be rolling in their graves right now when they see how President Obama is making a mockery of the Constitution. Who gave him the right to be king? I seriously question whether this action by president will hold up in a court case. If the President can get away with making a law without Congressional approval, what is stopping him from bypassing Congress on other important issues?

The timing of this action is very strange as well. Why wait until after the elections to act unilaterally on this issue? Furthermore, why was this not acted on during President Obama’s first few years in office when he had a majority in both the House and Senate. If this is such a pressing issue as he claims, why wasn’t a bill passed in his first 2 years in office? It is my belief and many others that immigration reform is strictly about gaining votes in the ever-increasing Hispanic population. Suppose some Republican president gets elected and wants to overturn this law? He would quickly become public enemy number one among Hispanic voters. Much like the Affordable Care Act, this law could have easily been delayed and thought through by the new Congress which will start in a couple of months. Unfortunately, our President did not want to wait and have the new Congress weigh in on the issue. I guess when you are a king, there is nothing to stop you from acting alone.

The biggest mistakes

We all tend to make numerous mistakes in our lives. Whether is be spending too much money, not saving enough, buying a bad house, not taking of your body properly, the list is endless. If you ask any adult what their worst mistake might have been in their lives, chances are the answer would point towards a past relationship. I tend to fall into that category. Some of my past relationships with members of the opposite sex are among the poorest choices that I have made in my life. Sometimes I think back to several years ago at how stupid and naïve I was! Fortunately, these mistakes have not affected my life in any long-term way. Unfortunately for many, dating or marrying the wrong person can bring about a permanent scar of lifetime anger and bitterness.

When we are young, we don’t really understand the consequences of dating or marrying someone who is clearly not the right person. We are blind to some of their flaws and think nothing of them. For example, a young Christian woman from a good family may fall for some hell raising guy. This guy may have a huge temper but the gal is lonely inside and wants some male companionship. She is in love with him because he is very charming and good-looking. Sure she knows he has a temper, but she feels she can change him. Shortly after they begin dating, she becomes pregnant and they decide to get married right away. She is forced to drop out of the school and the marriage dissolves quickly. He abuses her and eventually they become divorced. Now she is a single mother and might become emotionally damaged for life. She might never trust another guy for the rest of her life. The emotional abuse that she went through might carry over into any future relationships. In addition, chances are the poor child will grow up without a father in his or her life.

Shortly after I finished college, I dated a woman who was completely not right for me. We met through mutual friends. Like the example I gave, I was very lonely at the time and wanted a girlfriend in the worst way. My old girlfriend was kind of rubbing me in the face with her new boyfriend. I wanted to get back at her and this was a perfect way of doing so. I knew she had some serious flaws but that didn’t matter to me. I had a hot new girlfriend and life was good again, or was it? She was a totally materialistic type of woman. Our relationship started to sour and we got into some heated arguments which I seldom get into with anybody. She insulted me several times and I did my best to hold back from physically attacking her. She eventually broke off our relationship and starting dating another guy. I felt totally awful inside. Why was I so foolish!! Her new boyfriend started to abuse her and they broke up and guess who she started to pursue again? I told her that we could talk again and be friend but that was it. She wanted more and continued to harass and even stalk me. I eventually moved her and she finally found a new guy. I was left with a very bad taste in my mouth over that experience. I worked hard for my education, had a promising career ahead of me and it could have been all ruined by some crazy woman!

Life is all about making good choices and picking your friends and especially your spouse might be among the biggest choices one can ever make. Making the wrong choices can do irreplaceable harm to anyone’s life. Nowadays, I am still not married but my attitude is completely different. I would love to have a nice, caring woman in my life, but even without one, my life is still very happy and enjoyable. The single life is not so bad! What is bad is getting involved in a relationship with Mr. or Mrs. wrong. Life is way too short to go through that type of hell. Beware of that emotion called loneliness. It can cause wipe out any level of common sense and good judgment in a person.

Those diehard football fans

Yesterday, I had some down time in the afternoon so I decided to spend some quality time on my couch watching college football. The scene outside of my living room window would have made an Eskimo jump for joy. The wind was whipping the light snow around and the temperature outside was a balmy? 18 degrees above zero. A nationally televised college football game was taking place some 15 miles away from my home so I just had to tune in and cheer on our local major university. One of the things that really caught my attention was not necessarily the action on the field, but the poor fans who braved those horrible winter elements. I am sure the players had some level of discomfort in playing in those conditions but the fans? Imagine sitting outside for 3 1/2-4 hours in bone-chilling cold? Yet, the stadium was packed with people and I am sure the sales on hot coffee and hot chocolate went through the roof!

The football season for all levels in this country typically lasts from early August until late January. It is one thing to sit in the stands on a balmy September evening when the only discomfort you might experience is some bad hot dog from the concession stands or that occasional bug that might land on your skin. It is a totally different thing to be willing to sit for an extended period time on a cold fall or winter day to support your favorite team. I find it totally amazing at how people still show up for the games and pack the stadiums in that type of weather. Those are the true die-hard fans. In my opinion, if you are really a fan of a particular team, you will go and support your team in any type of conditions. The players have to suffer through those adverse weather conditions, why not the fans? they are all in it together. Many of those fans could take the easy way out and just sit at home and watch the game on television or maybe the internet. But a true fan will show up in any type of weather, cold, heat, rain, wind, snow or ice. The players make adjustments to those conditions and the fans should as well. Just talk to any Green Bay Packers football fan about sitting through a cold weather game. They are pros at how to handle those extreme conditions.

This is the time of year when cold weather starts becoming more of a factor in games at all levels high school, college and pro. Some of the schedule makers who put on these games in cold weather areas at night are rather sadistic!! They seem to think that scheduling a December night game in Green Bay is totally acceptable. But what are the chances that you could get a ticket to any one of the December games? Probably slim to none!! True fans like them are very inspiring to me. For those diehard fans who are willing to sit in sub freezing weather for 3-4 hours just to watch a football game, I totally salute you!!! You are some very brave and tough individuals. In the meantime, wimps like me will just stay home and enjoy the games in the warm comforts of my house where the wind chill factor never goes below 68 degrees.

5 signs that you made need to get a life

Several years ago, our company president decided to hold a company meeting to praise us for our hard work and effort during a very busy period. Several of us had been putting many long hours in the office, almost to the point of living at the company. During the speech, the president mentioned to us to watch out for signs of burning out. He stressed the importance of having a life outside of work. His exact words were “If you don’t have a life, get one” Well maybe if he paid me more, I could have more of a life!! Anyways, enjoying life to its fullest is something most people strive to accomplish. As they say, “life is short, enjoy yourself” Sometimes when I observe other people’s lifestyles, I wonder if they are really enjoying themselves or living a hell on earth. For example, the individual who works 3 jobs just to make ends meet. What kind of life is that? Or someone who has absolutely no hobbies to enjoy. I considering having many hobbies and activities to enjoy one of the keys to living a longer life. Studies probably back me up on that. The following are just a few of many warning signs that you better get off your rear end and start making something of your short life.

1) You have not visited a place more than 100 miles from your town or city. I am one of these people who just love going on a nice long trip to visit an unfamiliar location. It is always interesting to talk to someone who has visited many states or countries and hear their stories. There is so much out there to see and visit. Why not go out and explore this earth a little? I have always wanted to travel around Europe and see how life is different from here in the United States. Many folks have never left once left the state that they were born and raised in. Very sad indeed!!

2) You work more than 50 hours a week. Some people are married to their job. It is their life and passion. No time for any hobbies, just work, work, work. They are motivated by money and getting ahead of the competitors. Not only is that kind of lifestyle boring, it is very unhealthy. Everyone needs a break from the everyday work stress. Eventually this type of lifestyle will catch up to people later on in their lives.

3) You watch more than 3 hours of television a day. My first question is this, who has that kind of time? Don’t you have any chores, hobbies or better ways to spend your time. A co-worker of mine spends all day on Sunday watching NFL football from 11am to 10pm. On Saturday, he watches colleges games for the same amount of time. By the way, he is single and in serious need of a woman who will straighten him out!!

4) You have less than 4 hobbies in your life. As I mentioned in the opening, having many hobbies is critical to enjoying life to its fullest. Whenever I meet someone new, I like to quickly find out what hobbies she or he may have. I find people who do not have any passionate hobbies to be very dull and uninteresting. I make it a point every year to find a new and exciting hobby to pursue on top of the many that I already have.

5) Your idea of eating out is going to your local McDonald’s. I understand the argument that some people just cannot afford anyplace else, but just once, perhaps once a year, why not go to a nice restaurant that has really great food. Some are not really that expensive. Many cities have great restaurants that will make you forget all about those greasy fast food joints. A great night out for many people including myself is having dinner at a popular restaurant while enjoying the company of friends and family. Definitely one of my favorite things to do.

Of course, some people’s hobbies totally consume their lives as well. My obsession with blogging causes me to be a social hermit who lives his total life in front of the computer, well maybe not!!. The average human lifespan in the world is only 71 years. It is never too late to find a life and start enjoying life to its fullest.